Recent reports suggest that unused vacation days are at a 40 year high. The study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, found that American workers earned just under 21 paid-time-off days in 2013 (excluding sick days,) but used only 16. While some employees can bank or roll over their vacation days into the next year, an average of 1.6 days were completely forfeited, according to their survey. In total, that is somewhere around 169 million days forfeited, and amounts to a whopping $52.4 billion in lost benefits.
And yet, further studies showed that people who used their vacation days seemed to be more productive when at work, and another independent study showed that they also received better performance reviews!
Well, if you’re a Stephen Covey fan or a graduate of his self-help “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” you already know that people who “sharpen the saw” are better workers than those who don’t! And you may already know, spending time with the family makes deposits in those emotional bank accounts and fosters family unity. Both of which are the hallmark of family unity, marital success, and having healthy, happy, and successful children.
So why am I telling you this? Because visiting your local campground can help you accomplish all those goals. It can provide your family with time together, give you the time away from work stresses you need, and do it without breaking the bank or stressing for hours on the road!
You don’t have to be a camper to go camping! Today’s campgrounds offer cabins with restrooms, kitchens, air conditioning, heat, and more. You can go camping without sleeping on the ground, or in a dirty run-down, smelly fishing camp. They call it Glamping (glamor camping), but what it is all about is introducing non-campers to camping and the outdoors! And it costs about the same as a hotel, and doesn’t require you owning an RV (recreational vehicle)!
Stay in a more rustic cabin! You don't have to stay in the most expensive or fancy cabin! Stay in one with less frills, and you get the same experience for less. You still get to enjoy all the activities and events.
You can stay closer to home! Simply book a cabin for a long weekend, stay Thursday night through Sunday night, and go home Monday. Use 2 days of vacation and get a 4 day break! Now that’s a sweet deal! And you used a whole lot less time to get there (more fun and less time locked in the car with the kids), and less money in gas and less wear and tear on the driver! It’s much more restful and relaxing!
Camp during the week or in the off-season. Many campgrounds offer discounted camping Sunday – Thursday and in the off-season (before Memorial Day Weekend and after Labor Day) because they are less busy, have smaller staffs, and fewer events. So why not capitalize on that and camp during the off season or during the weekdays when you’ll spend less and have a less crowded pool to enjoy? That way, you’re spreading your vacation out across several months, and you’re not competing with those other vacationing campers for facilities nor co-workers for peak season time off.
Choose a campground with amenities and activities for the kids! The kids are less likely to beg to go to the mall or a movie if there is a ball game, fishing tournament, or other activity at the campground they don’t want to miss. So, make sure that you involve the kids in the campground selection and that within that selection is wide assortment of activities and amenities for everyone in the family. The busier the campground keeps the kids, the happier everyone will be! Generally speaking, campgrounds with a good activity program generally advertise the specifics of the program. A little research in that department pays big dividends when it comes to both the bottom line and the quality of the get-away for your family!
Make more trips and stay shorter periods. Instead of making 1, 7 day vacation trip why not make 2, three – 4 day trips? You’ll get more “mini vacations” or “stay-cations” as we call them! That gives you more breaks from work, and you’ll use more vacation days, but aren’t missing a whole week at a time. It’ll keep you better connected with what’s happening at work, but still allows for that time off we all need.
Enjoy A Campfire Together! Skip the dinner out and the movies or mall trip. Stay at the cabin or campsite and enjoy a campfire. Dinner? Chips, dips, veggies, hotdogs, buns, and the fixin’s. Kids love roasting a hotdog over an open fire. And don’t forget desert! You have to let ‘em roast marshmallows and make a s’more! Don’t forget the campfire popping corn or peanuts to shell and eat! You can tell scary stories, strum the guitar and sing campfire songs, study the constellations, or collect fireflies! There are a host of ideas and fun to be had at a campground this summer. You save the cost of the dinner & movies, the gas to get you there and back, and the kids are thrilled with a new outdoor experience!
Why not start planning your mini vacations today? Don’t let another 25-27% of your vacation go unused this year. You need to sharpen the saw, the family needs time away, and you need to spend time together! Start right now while there’s still enough summer left to do it! But don’t stop at Labor Day Weekend! Keep right on going and take your kids to fun-filled autumn events too!
Don’t forget, you can do most of these things at any one of the many Kampgrounds of America Campgrounds! You don’t have to go a long way to get away and enjoy a low cost but high adventure camping experience! Use those vacations days and enjoy time with your family, and moreover, make memories that will last a lifetime!
Tim & Robyn Chilson are CPOs, who own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA. Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251.