Have you traveled yet this year? Do you plan to?
If you’re not, says Luis Vargas, executive VP of The Clymb and chief brand officer and president of travel for LeftLane Sports, you should be. And he does not want to hear your excuses.
Vargas recently took the TEDx stage in Portland, Ore., for a talk titled “Travel More, Buy Less.” Only 35 percent of Americans have a passport, he said, and in some states, like Mississippi, it’s way lower: there, only 18 percent of people have passports.
The three reasons people typically give for not traveling are time, money, and fear, he said, but those are all things one can overcome. He and his wife spent $4,000 on a six-month honeymoon in Nepal, India, and Thailand, he said, showing how it’s often cheaper to travel outside the U.S. than within it.
“We are a nation of workaholics,” he says in the talk. “If I were to ask many of us how we’re doing, including me, what would our answer be? ‘I’m busy.’ The glorification of ‘busy’ is real, and it’s a problem.”
Americans take an average of 15 days of vacation a year, he said, down from 21 in 2000. The United States is the only highly developed nation where paid time off is not required by law, but even when we do have those days off, we often don’t take them. Each year, we waste a collective 169 million vacation days, Vargas said, worth an estimated $52.4 billion. That’s a lot of unnecessary working. And it’s a lot of time you could use to pick up and go somewhere new.
Instead of falling back on the same-old, same-old, Vargas advises, opt for watching lava flows on the big island of Hawaii over spending your time in resorts in Honolulu. Hike in Zion National Park, in southern Utah, instead of opting for a weekend of gambling and strobe lights in Vegas.
“Right now with an American passport, you can visit 174 countries without a visa at the point of entry,” Vargas says. “Even with the challenging things happening in the world, it is an extraordinary time to be a traveler. So what does this mean? If you’re young, it means go!
“You’re living a moment in your life when you have more freedom and flexibility than you may ever have. Right now, the lights are shimmering over Kuala Lumpur and a group of young people are enjoying a cocktail and a laugh. Why are you not there? Why?
“If you’re older, it also means go. It’s likely that it will take more planning, but you have more resources than you had before. Right now, in a remote fjord, the chef is ringing the bell and calling you to a locally-sourced, three-course dinner. Why are you not there?”