Long holidays or short vacations: which should you choose?

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After weeks slogging it out at work, the idea of a nice, long vacation can be intoxicating. A couple of weeks unwinding on a beach, far away from the constant ping of emails and phone calls, cocktail in hand. Or maybe you're an adventure junkie who would prefer to spend their time exploring the South American jungles, the Saharan desert or some snowy capped mountains?

Whatever you prefer, we all need to get away from time-to-time. But what's the best way to unwind and use up your annual leave allowance? Should you cash it all in for one big holiday every year, or take a few shorter breaks more regularly?

Holiday anticipation has its own benefits

A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that the days before a vacation, when you're excited and looking forward to getting away - perhaps even mentally winding down at the office with each incremental handover you give to your colleagues - kicks off the relaxation process and you start to reap the mental benefits associated with holidays.

In fact, planning your vacation and thinking with excitement about what you'll be doing can even offer bigger mental health payoffs than you get from remembering the good times you had after you return home. If you're looking to maximise the total benefit you get from a vacation, a solid argument could be made that more frequent holidays, though they might be shorter, would give you this anticipatory benefit more often, giving you a greater total benefit.

Asking for vacation time can cause stress, too

In an ideal world, every boss would happily let you take your vacation time when you wanted to, as long as you made sure measures were in place to take care of things while you were gone. Unfortunately, not all bosses are this understanding, and many workers feel guilty asking for time away, even making compromises about 'being available' while they're on vacation. For some people, it can feel easier to simply ask for one longer holiday and get the guilt out of the way, than to ask repeatedly throughout the year.

If you don't disconnect, you're not doing it right

Technology allows us to be more connected than ever before, but it also makes it harder for workers to fully escape the office, even on vacation. A longer trip might give your team anxiety about not being able to contact you for an extended period, while it might be easier to convince your team to let you completely disconnect for a shorter period of time on a more regular basis.

To combat the stress of being constantly connected, some countries are even implementing laws to try and give workers a break. Both France and Germany have enacted laws that protect the 'right to disconnect', banning companies with over 50 employees from contacting employees out of hours, to combat work-related stress.

If you're taking a bucket-list trip, the rules change

Many of us have those big-ticket trips on our bucket lists - touring the wine regions of France, trekking to Machu Picchu, taking a cruise to Antarctica. It's long been established that experiences bring us more joy than things, and if you're planning a longer trip in order to tick an item off you list, the sense of satisfaction and the life-long memories are absolutely worth cashing in all your vacation time in one go.

Curious how much some common bucket-list holidays cost? We've got the answers. Got a holiday in mind but lacking the funds to finance it right away? Speak to one of our Betterers about a personal loan as an antidote to your wanderlust.