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Would you like to take a vacation?

It’s that time of year again, when we start getting our bags packed for our summer trip to Europe. Ten glorious days on a ship, followed by a two-month vacation in France, and then, (sigh), I awake from my dream.

I am back in the year 2006, but at least I was right about one thing – that wonderful time of the year we call summer is fast approaching! My children and I are really excited to have no schedule and lots of fun.

According to Expedia.com, the workforce will leave 574 million vacation days untouched this year, which is an increase from last year’s record of 421 million. I wouldn’t exactly call that an encouraging trend. Upon researching the subject, I came across some interesting facts I wanted to share with you. The following is a short list of the number of compulsory vacation days instituted in different countries around the world:

Brazil: 30 consecutive days

China: 0 days

Canada: 10 days

European Union: 4 weeks (more in some countries)

Finland: 5 weeks

Israel: 14 days

Japan: 5 weeks

Tunisia: 30 days

United States: 10 days

If you are planning a company transfer, my advice would be to avoid China and shoot for Finland!

In a study by the University of New York State, researchers followed a group of 1200 men aged 35 – 57. The results of the study suggested that the men who took their vacations every year reduced their overall risk of death by 20% and heart disease by 30%. Those who hadn’t taken a vacation in over 5 years suffered the highest overall death rate and highest incidence of heart disease.

So the real question is, why are you not taking a vacation? Yes, I can hear all of your reasons; "I am busy, who will do my job, I will have too much work to do when I get back, I just want to complete this project", and so on. I am hoping this will give you some food for thought, however. If you are truly a dedicated employee, then TAKE your vacation. You, your family, and your employer will benefit.

Join our vacation contest – send me a note at alan@CareerJoy.com with your best ever vacation story. We will choose some of the best stories for a special edition WORKout, then send the writers a copy of "Unforgettable things to do before you die" by Watkins & Jones.

Bon voyage!