“You’re not battling against the friction you might feel if you’re currently employed and you feel you can’t get away. When you do start your new job, it’s better if you’re not rolling into it exhausted, with baggage from the last position,” said Michelle Gielan, a positive psychology expert who, along with her husband, Shawn Anchor, partnered with the U.S. Travel Association on a 2016 vacation study for the organization’s Project: Time Off initiative. The study found that 55 percent of American workers who are employed at least 35 hours a week with paid time off, don’t use all of their vacation. In 2015, Americans took approximately four fewer vacation days than they did in 2000, the study said.
“It used to be that you’d have lifetime employment with one employer, and that you’d never really have breaks,” said John Challenger, the chief executive at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive-outplacement firm. “Now we’re seeing plenty of people who decide to take advantage of the natural gaps that occur in one’s work history.”
Data suggests that job-hopping behavior may be generational; according to LinkedIn, in 2016, millennials switched jobs 2.2 times more than nonmillennials and had a lower median tenure before hopping.
Mr. Challenger said that the chance to take time off can be the silver lining to “no-fault job loss”; say, companywide downsizing.
When she was laid off from Tasting Table last fall, Bertha Chen, 26, dove headfirst into networking, interviewing and freelancing. “With no job, I was worried about where my life was going. I’m someone who has to know my next step before doing anything crazy — like jumping on a plane,” she said.
After six weeks of searching, Ms. Chen got an offer as an account coordinator at Pinterest; the position was to begin in two weeks. Two hours and eight minutes after accepting it, she bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica and departed less than 36 hours later. Although she didn’t love traveling alone and wasn’t wowed by the destination, the five-day vacation impressed upon her one important lesson. “I had zero time to do research, and although the trip wasn’t perfect, I realized that going with the flow also works out,” she said. “I don’t have to plan every minute.”
However unusual it may have felt to her at the time, Ms. Chen’s getaway matches a trend; today more than 50 percent of Google Flights searches are for trips departing less than 30 days out. To counter the premium of 11th-hour airfare, Ms. Chen paid $11 a night for a serviceable, if bare-bones, hostel.