You’ve probably heard of burnout. The condition, touted by the World Health Organization as “an occupational phenomenon,” is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”

It’s a very real thing—and a very big problem. It’s probably why workers in the US have been fighting for paid time off for over 100 years. The problem existed far before there was a word to define it. Humans simply need breaks.

It’s not always easy to admit that, though. American culture seems to applaud burnout. It’s a sign of hard work; a part of living the American Dream! In fact, 1 in 4 Americans still have no paid vacation and no paid holidays, according to a 2019 study. Companies, and the US government, still don’t view vacation time as a priority for workers.

That ethos is, of course, absurd. So if you’re one of the lucky ones who can take a vacation, we believe it’s your obligation to exercise agency and actually take it. But if you want to get the absolute greatest benefit from your time off and really show the man what’s up, plan vacation as far in advance as possible.

Studies show that the greatest utility people get from vacation is from looking forward to it. You’ll actually experience more joy planning a trip than you will while you’re on it.

That means you have the power to choose how much joy you get from your time off. The further out you plan it, the longer you’ll reap the benefits of anticipation. You’re also less likely to experience burnout when you know, for sure, you have something to look forward to.

Oftentimes people take last-minute vacations to quickly escape impending burnout. That might feel like a good solution in the moment, but it’s not a recipe for long-term success. Preemptively planning for burning out will decrease the likelihood of it happening, and you’ll feel more satisfied in your job in the interim.

While society tends to romanticize spontaneity, it's the planners who are actually getting the most from their trips.

We still can't travel to a lot of international destinations right now. The silver lining? Booking a staycation or "nearcation" is just as effective if you plan ahead, and you can find some hidden gems in a nearby zip code.

AirBnB nearby vacations
AirBnB added a "Go Near" feature to help you plan an escape nearby.

If you’re not into staycations or nearcations, planning a trip at least a year in advance is the best way to do it anyway. And by that time, a trip to New Zealand to pet some sheep might not be out of the question anymore.

New Zealand travel 2021
We're ready to join you ^

At AE Studio, we’re thinking about setting up a company policy to require everyone to have at least 1 vacation planned at all times, at least 6 or 12 months out. We haven’t yet run this by anyone official like our lawyer. We figured we’d tell random people on the internet about it first. Thoughts?