One of the huge perks of full-time employment is paid vacation time, but increasingly Americans have not been taking time off. The reasons vary, but a recent survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association listed the belief that nobody else can do the job and a fear of returning to a mountain of work as some of the main reasons people are avoiding taking vacations.
How significant is that avoidance? The amount of unused holiday time in the United States hit an all-time high in 2014, when Americans left 169 million paid vacation days on the table. That's US$52.4 billion in lost benefits!
Passengers stand out on deck during a Spitsbergen Expedition. Photo Courtesy: Cindy Miller Hopkins
Going on an arctic expedition is an excellent way to relax, rejuvenate and regain your health. Here are 5 reasons why an expedition is totally worth taking that time off!
1. Adventure Travel Is a Great Way to Blow Off Steam
Job-related stress can have a dramatic effect on a person. It can cause sleep problems and weight gain, and it reduces your resistance to illness. The mental effects can be worse, leading to depression, slowed mental processes and the inability to make decisions.
Physical activity, especially in the outdoors, improves your health and releases stress. Kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, walking and hiking in the pristine beauty of the Arctic will refresh you to the point where you might not even recognize yourself!
At Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Adventure Options include ATV rides, fat biking, stand-up paddleboarding, trail running, rafting, fishing and more. What a way to blow off steam!
2. An Arctic Expedition Is Good for Your Health
Many vacation options have limited health benefits. Spending 2 weeks at an all-inclusive – laying on a beach, overeating and drinking – may leave you a little more relaxed, but that feeling won't last long. On an arctic cruise, you can strike a balance between stillness and motion, always at the pace you want.
After eating a healthy, chef-prepared breakfast, you may spend the rest of your morning Zodiac cruising amongst icebergs while looking for humpback whales in the depths below or perhaps searching for a seal on the pack ice. Then, having enjoyed a sumptuous lunch on the shore or back on board, you may while away the afternoon kayaking, paddleboarding or hiking the tundra.
An adventure vacation gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing, and the effects are often felt for months afterward.
An adventure vacation gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing, and the effects are often felt for months afterward. For some people, it signals the start of a complete lifestyle change.
3. Creative Expedition Options Can Maximize Your Holiday Time
On average, each U.S. worker fails to use about 5 paid vacation days a year. You may think there's not much you can do in that short amount of time, but you could take a 3-day expedition to one of the most remote base camps in the world. Land on the seasonal air strip and spend a night on the ice at Barneo Ice Camp with scientific researchers and explorers.
Northern Lights, Greenland
Another fantastic option if you're challenged for time is a fly/fly expedition. You can get to Greenland and back in less than 2 weeks, and what a story you'll have to tell your friends, family and colleagues!
Imagine viewing the single fjord that creates 10 percent of the icebergs around Greenland, visiting ancient settlements thousands of years old, or seeing the spectacular northern lights in the one place on earth they're clearest.
4. You Really Get Away from It All During Your Vacation Time
In the 1960s, American psychologist and writer Timothy Leary advised people to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” The modern equivalent might be to turn off, tune out and disconnect from the distractions of everyday life. On an arctic adventure, you can leave the congested roads and offices behind – the only life you're apt to see in places like Spitsbergen, Norway, is wildlife.
Take time to reconnect with yourself, the natural world and people with similar interests, and you will feel refreshed and relaxed. You'll be amazed at the distance you can cover without seeing another living soul outside of your own group! You may just find your sense of wonder restored – there are few places left in the world where that might happen.
5. You Can Have a Totally Brag-Worthy Vacation
If you decide it's time to use up all of your surplus vacation days, why not do something truly spectacular? It used to be that traveling to the North Pole was a risky proposition, but today you can do so in relative comfort aboard authentic icebreaker 50 Years of Victory. How many people do you know who can say they've actually been to the North Pole?
Photo credit: John Weller
Imagine cruising in a Zodiac through Sam Ford Fjord – one of the world's most fantastic and least-visited big-wall playgrounds – all the way up on the northeast coast of Baffin Island or spending an afternoon photographing grazing muskoxen and perhaps the odd arctic fox in Northeast Greenland National Park! Your weekend-warrior friends will be green with envy.
Want to learn more about planning your own epic journey to the Arctic?
- Read more Arctic adventure stories from expedition experts and travelers like you
- See a variety of Arctic expedition brochures and download yours free