By: Eli Shostak

Do you ever feel like your daily roles are so crucial that a moment without your brilliance might lead to catastrophe? How many of us rally into each day believing our contributions are so unique and extraordinary that no one else could possibly fill in? Are you afraid of unplugging because you fear a total collapse of everything if you take your hands off the wheel? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re in good company.

Recent studies indicate that over 40% of Americans are too scared to use all their vacation days. But isn’t time off one of the best parts of having spent time on? Surely, people aren’t afraid of vacation.

Lasal 2012What’s the deal?

It turns out this prohibitive fear isn’t about losing one’s baggage or getting sunburned; we’re afraid of what will happen when we return. We’re willing to forgo the rejuvenation of vacation due to fears about the pile of “urgent” stuff that’s built up while we explored new landscapes, the potential of being seen as replaceable or obsolete when we’re not around and are plagued by the sense that things really will go bananas without our guidance. Catching up after being away can wipe out vacation vibes as quickly as clouds cover the sun. 

The thing is, we also know vacations boost performance, improve retention, increase creativity, and are absolutely necessary for maintaining productivity. And really, vacations are just plain fun.

What to do?

We’re here to offer five big ideas for overcoming fear and taking your ideal holiday. As long-time professionals who’ve helped thousands of people float beyond their own self-imposed limits, we’ve got time-tested, research-proven methods to get you off the clock and on vacation. We’ll do our part, you do this:

  1. Keep it Simple: Instead of starting from scratch reading endless reviews, maintaining long to-do lists, manipulating tricky reservations, and managing intricate logistics; just keep it simple and let someone else (us) do the heavy lifting. HRE has a huge catalog of “grab and go” adventures to choose from. You tell us what you’re interested in and, if we can make it happen, you’re good to go. Bonus: Once you get into the groove of simple-to-manage escapes, there’s a solid chance you’ll keep embracing easy adventures!
  2. Commit: Love them or hate them, deadlines provide motivation, so get vacation dates on the calendar! Once again, HRE has specific timelines and trip itineraries to help you streamline this process. There are even people in the office who’ll chase you down if you forget something. Lock it in, tell the team you have a plan, and don’t look back. Bonus: This is a good habit to role model. We admire commitment when it comes to professional responsibilities, now it’s time we embrace this practice for personal well-being.Jac rowing guests through Westwater
  3. Make an Emergency Action Plan: Rather than letting fear of what might happen keep you grounded, create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) just in case. Chances are the sky won’t fall, but everyone will feel better knowing how to find you if it does. First, make it clear exactly what a falling sky looks like, then give people explicit instructions on how you can be reached. HRE staff and guides have experience finding people in far-flung places; you can practically leave this planning up to them. Bonus: Without you around, people will take on responsibility and tackle their own challenges. Seriously, aren’t there some tasks you’d be happy to give up?
  4. Turn Off Notifications: Nothing says vacation fail like constantly answering emails in your swimsuit. As long as your emergency plan isn’t based on email (hint hint), silence the madness. Turn off the tones, ban the banners, and unplug. Bonus: You can do this anytime; once you feel the freedom, you’ll do it more often.
  5. If only I could…: Ask yourself what you would do if you had more time and then plan to do more of that very thing. Since you’ll have fewer distractions than usual, having a vision will keep you from missing the screen. If you’re not sure what to do with your new freedom, just ask, we have plenty of ideas. Bonus: An object in motion tends to stay that way; we can stick with our good habits once we get them rolling.

Our experience and science both agree vacations are necessary to optimize performance and live better lives. Whether or not we admit it, we know if we’re burned out and tired, we can’t work at our best. We can drink more coffee, stay up later, and get up earlier, but this just means we’ll eventually crash harder. Give us a call, friendly folks who are already entirely on your team and want you to have an awesome vacation will make this process as easy as possible and you’ll be on your way to a gorgeous place. Recharge those batteries, you’ve earned it!


Eli Shostak is a Lecturer of Adventure Education at Fort Lewis College. A former river guide, NOLS Course Leader, and sea kayaking instructor, he is a firm believer in the power of shared experiences in wild places. Eli is dedicated to using his expertise in mindfulness, leadership, and expedition planning to facilitate journeys for finding the personal and interpersonal benefits of exploring diverse landscapes. His favorite game to play on trips is called “Knuck Tats,” something you’ll have to ask him about.