WNY Family Magazine September 2018 - Page 32

Don’t Forget To Put a Vacation in Your Plans! S FAMILY TRAVEL adly, summer vacation season is winding down. Americans generally earn many fewer vacation days annually in comparison to our European counterparts. But even with limited vacation days, millions of Americans aren’t using everything they earn. AAA states you don’t have to go far to reap the benefits of vacation. A day trip or staycation can certainly bring joy and enrich our lives. A recent study by the American Automobile Association revealed that Americans leave 705 million vacation days unused annually. The benefits of taking vacation are shown upon your ar- rival back to work. There has been slight progress in using vacation days. American workers took an average of 17.2 days of vacation in 2017, according to new research from Project: Time Off, jumping up nearly a half day from 2016. “It’s a matter of recharging your batteries and having a really good men- tal attitude and being more productive when you come back to work,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “The study finds that those who take regular vacation are more productive at work.”   A majority of Americans (52%) left vacation time unused in 2017 (down from 54% in 2016). Further, nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans have not taken a vacation in more than a year. A reason that many people don’t use all their allotted vacation time comes down to planning. “Those who plan to take vacation and set aside time to plan end up taking them in most cases, but the study finds that only 54 percent of us plan,” Magu- ire said. For many people, especially fami- lies, vacations are about making memo- ries and enhancing family bonds. Peo- ple’s happiest memories often involve vacations. For me, it was many days spent on the Canadian shore and trips up to Northern Ontario staying in a cottage alongside the water. To this day my best days are those spent on the water. 32 WNY Family September 2018 — by Deborah Williams Americans taking all or most of their vacation days to travel — or mega- travelers — report dramatically higher rates of happiness than those using little to none of their time for travel. Family vacations create memories that last for decades, are shared across generations and bring a family closer together, according to Project: Time Off research. Adults participating in the sur- vey say they still have vivid memories of family vacations taken in their early childhood and surveyed children say family vacations create some of their fa- vorite memories. American adults report that memo- ries formed during family vacations taken in their childhood remain vivid well into adulthood. These memories are treasured and shared with younger generations as parents tell stories about them to their children. Parents report that they plan family vacations in order to provide their chil- dren with experiences they will remem- ber for years to come. Three in every four parents believe that family vacations are worth the time and money because they “give my child experiences that they will remember years down the road.” Seventy five percent of parents indi- cated that the cost and time are justified because the memories created from fam- ily vacations are “priceless.” More than half of parents surveyed reported that “I have fond memories of vacations that I took as a child, and I want to create simi- lar experiences for my family.” In light of these findings, here are two nearby spots that are perfect for a day or shorter visit. One is a new discov- ery and the other is a lifelong favorite: • Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron (between exits 41 and 40) is the perfect stop while traveling east on the New York Thruway. The free park has drawn many rave reviews and has the distinction of being the only historic site in the nation with direct access from an interstate highway.  It was a wonderful and unexpected surprise when I discovered it this sum- mer. Opened last year, the $9.6 million park welcomes everyone including fam- ilies, dogs, and people using wheelchairs from Mother’s Day through October. It