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Did you know that people who plan for vacation are happier? In general those who plan for vacation are happier with everything from their personal relationships to their work/life balance, health, well-being and their job. It’s true. 

Sadly, Americans are still not using all of their vacation days. In fact, American workers left an average of 29% of their paid leave on the table last year. This National Plan for Vacation Day, we’re reminding you to make a plan to take time off this year. In this post, we’ll show you why planning travel is a good idea. We’ll also share some of our favorite places to travel in the Midwest

A plan for vacation reduces burnout

A 2021 research study about employee burnout found that more than two-thirds (68%) of American workers feel at least moderately burned out. Furthermore, 13% are extremely burned out. Wouldn’t a view like the one below help you relax and unwind? 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

The valley of the Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit) near Medora, North Dakota

Those surveyed also said avoiding burnout was the top-rated motivator to book a trip in the next six months. Furthermore, it ranked even higher than travel discounts and deals. 

Travel remains a top priority 

After spending much of the past two years at home, 91% of Americans say it is important to use their paid time off to travel. Not surprisingly, 61% plan to make travel a top budget priority in 2022.

Luxurious bedding at Raphael Hotel Kansas City

The pandemic has caused us to largely put vacation planning on the back burner. This is odd considering nearly eight in 10 (79%) Americans believe vacations are important to their overall health and well-being.

Things to do in Grand Forks biking

Chances are you’ve been carrying a heavy load. Planning a vacation might be just what you need to ignite a much-needed spark in your life. 


plan a vacation in the midwest small pin

The impact of planning for vacation

Americans who make a plan for their vacation time actually travel more. Sadly, almost one-quarter (24%) of American households don’t take this simple step. As a result, they wind up losing or having to forfeit their days.

Things to do in Jamestown

Indeed, planners travel more than non-planners. More than half (56%) of Americans who typically planned their time off took an overnight vacation in 2021 while only 33% of non-planners did. Best of all, though, anticipating and planning travel makes Americans happy. 

Indeed, nearly three-quarters (74%) of planners reported being extremely or very happy anticipating and planning vacations in the next year versus just four in 10 of non-planners.

How we’re planning for vacation this year

While we do plan to cruise in 2022, we will also explore some places closer to our home in the Midwest. Here are some of our top picks for Midwest destinations to visit in 2022:

Plan for vacation to Rochester, Minnesota

About an hour south of the Twin Cities, Rochester is world-renowned for its legacy of care and innovation. The Mayo Clinic sees more than 1.3 million patients each year, and its culture of caring is clearly contagious, making Rochester an extraordinary travel destination. 

rochester minnesota skyline

This year, we wrote an article for the Explore Minnesota Travel Guide about how to spend 48 hours in Rochester. Think Minnesota sounds like a nice place for a vacation? Order your complimentary Minnesota vacation planning kit by mail HERE

Plan for vacation in North Dakota

The last state of the 50 visited by most Americans is North Dakota, which means that most Americans are making a huge mistake. We absolutely love North Dakota with its wide-open skies, friendly people, uncrowded attractions and loads of legendary adventures. Also, the wonton and havarti cheese-wrapped fried dill pickle spears are a plus.

fried pickles at Outlaws in North Dakota


Read THIS POST to see why you should surprise yourself with a trip to North Dakota. There’s also a post on our blog about Grand Forks – the coolest town you’ve never visited. Finally, click HERE to see why Jamestown should definitely be on your list of places to visit on your summer vacation. And stay tuned, we’ll have more on our blog from legendary North Dakota, soon. We absolutely love this state and can’t wait to go back! Click HERE to order your North Dakota vacation planning kit.

Plan for vacation in Wichita, Kansas

Like most people, for years we drove THROUGH Wichita often without ever actually stopping there. In the fall of 2020, we actually took the time to get off of I-35 and spent a couple days exploring. We found public art, nature trails, botanical gardens, and outdoor museums. We also found the best, most authentic neapolitan pizza we’ve had anywhere outside of Italy. Yes, in Kansas.

Postcard Jar in Wichita

Click HERE to read how we filled several days with outdoor activities in Wichita. You’ll also want to read all about nine different restaurants where we enjoyed great cuisine, all while not dining inside during the pandemic. Finally, click HERE to order a visitor’s guide for Wichita.

Plan for vacation in Kansas City

Looking for a city that’s up-to-date? Why not try Kansas City? With museums, culture, music, amusement parks, professional sports, and an incredible food scene, it’s easy to spend an entire vacation there. We were thrilled to spend a few days in KC this past spring, where we relaxed and reconnected at our stay at the classically elegant Raphael Hotel

Raphael Hotel Country Club Plaza Kansas City

Located steps from the Country Club Plaza, one of the nation’s premier shopping destinations, the hotel also has an excellent restaurant, Chaz on the Plaza. While in KC, Ann found her entire spring wardrobe at the Legends Outlets. When you’re in the area, be sure to also take time to check out the Kansas City, Kansas, food scene, as well. Offering everything from barbecue to boba drinks, there’s something for every taste. Request a Kansas City, Kansas visitors guide HERE.


Plan for vacation in Mason City/Clear Lake, Iowa

If a smaller-town feel is what you’re after, then look no further than Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa. The inspiration for the classic American small town, River City, from the musical “The Music Man,” Mason City maintains a small town feel while offering art, culture, and dining options normally found in larger cities.

Things to do in Clear Lake Iowa in the off season.

Just a few miles down the road (about six, actually) is Clear Lake. This small lakeside town is full of friendly folks, great food, and recreational opportunities. It’s also home to one of the most iconic places in music history, the Surf Ballroom. Everyone who is anyone has played the Surf, including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Indeed, it was right after their concert at the Surf that they boarded the plane at the Mason City airport on the day the music died. You can request visitor’s guides for Mason City (HERE) and Clear Lake (HERE).

Plan for vacation in Kearney, Nebraska

Most people just see Kearney, Nebraska, as a place to get off the interstate for a meal or for gas. Consequently, they miss a lot! We invite you to think of Kearney as a bucket-list destination, instead. Each spring, more than a half million Sandhill Cranes descend on Kearney and the surrounding area. Drawn there by the perfect conditions offered them by the Platte River, the cranes make a stop to feed and prepare for their migration north.

crane migration

Seeing the cranes land on the Platte River at sunset is among our top five travel experiences, ever, and it can only be found in the spring in Nebraska. The best times to view the cranes are at sunrise and sunset so you’ll find yourself with some free time in Kearney. No worries, though, as there are plenty of things to do while you wait for the cranes. Request a visitors guide HERE.

Ready to plan for vacation?

In conclusion, here are the steps we use to plan our vacations. For short trips close to home, we usually plan one to three months in advance. We typically plan three to six months in advance for bigger trips that require airfare. For international travel, we plan one or more years in advance so we have time to save for and anticipate our vacation.

  1. Set aside time to plan your vacation
  2. Prepare a realistic budget
  3. Choose a destination
  4. Save money to pay for your trip in advance without debt
  5. Research your destination and what you’ll see and do
  6. Make travel arrangements (flights, routes, lodging)
  7. Mark your calendar and get excited!
  8. Enjoy your vacation

So, where will you plan to vacation this year? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Source: Destination Analysts, 2021 Methodology: This research is based on an online survey of employed Americans distributed to the Dynata Business Professionals Panel, one of the largest in the world. Survey respondents must have worked at least 20 hours a week at a company that employed at least two people and earned paid time off in 2021. The survey was fielded December 6–December 17, 2021. In total, 1,200 completed surveys were collected. For more information, visit the U.S. Travel Association website

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