It’s Time for Your Vacation
By Annalisa Berns
Photos by Annalisa Berns and Dina Likokapis of HoundAway Dog Daycare and Boarding in Cambridge, Ontario.
You did it! With business ups and downs that were more like a tsunami than a rollercoaster, you got through a pandemic! So, it’s time to celebrate.
You made tough decisions, and while the choices might not have turned out like you wanted, you made them. You deserve to sit back and enjoy new perspectives and lessons learned.
You deserve a break; a much-needed time off with a complete change of scenery; an out-of-town, real-life adult vacation. The kind you see on television commercials, complete with fruity drinks with umbrellas, castles and picture-postcard settings; your bucket list, dream vacation.
Time off is well established as important self-care: “A number of studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals,” writes Shannon Torberg, PsyD, LP for Allinahealth.
Think you don’t have time to take off? Experts predict that without vacations, you are more likely to experience job burnout, unhappiness and more health issues.
If expenses and debt are getting in the way of a vacation, it is time for a major accounting overhaul. Find an accountant, business mentor or even a 12-step program (there are 12-step programs like Debtors Anonymous and Underearners Anonymous, etc.) and start taking action. Look at debt, income, expenses and prices. It is unrealistic not to take time off.
Still don’t have the funds to take a trip now? Think outside the box! Ask a client that has a second home if you could stay in exchange for pet care. Look into pet sitting in your desired vacation area, home exchanges, learning abroad and work exchange programs.
Close or Stay Open?
Consider if your business should stay open while you are away. Dependable staffing is of utmost concern, along with finances. Hire the staff you need to make time off happen.
Finding work-life balance is now a higher priority to staff as well, and providing time off (even if it is unpaid) might be a huge benefit. Have an open conversation with staff about priorities and business logistics and ask what is important to them.
If you do make the decision to close while on vacation, it might be the perfect time to schedule maintenance and improvements. Have your facility painted, add new enrichment, update landscaping and or do a deep cleaning while away.
Schedule time off way in advance, and at the same time every year. Mark it on the calendar, notify staff and post it all over. This is a sneaky way to “vision board” it into reality. And, that way staff and clients can plan easily.
Consider taking time off when business is slow. Every business is different, but January, June (post-Memorial Day while school is still in session) and September (when school goes back into session) are popular times to take off with pet daycare and boarding owners.
Set aside a specific stream of income for travel and time off. With this money earmarked for a specific purpose, it might be easier not to use it for other expenses. For example, save all tip money for a travel fund.
Make the Most of It
Don’t stay home! “If I stayed home, I wouldn’t be on vacation,” said Debbie Gravitt of Harmony Kennels in Galva, Illinois. “If I stayed home, I would end up boarding someone’s pet!”
Another way to boost the benefits from the trip is to spend time enjoying planning, researching, and also looking at pictures of past trips. Research shows that all of these can increase happiness and joy. Post a picture of your trip at a prominent spot to spark your daydreaming imagination!
Remember the lessons you learned during the pandemic, be sure to set boundaries and definitely take time off for yourself. You are amazing and you deserve it!