Planning a vacation at the last minute can be daunting, as can figuring out how to use all those vacation days. Luckily there’s a day set aside to plan for both and it’s coming up soon — National Plan Your Vacation Day is on Jan. 31.


But why plan for a vacation so early on in the year? Visit Anchorage representative Julie Saupe said the beginning of the year is the time to start thinking about how to use the vacation days people hold onto.


“Even though Jan. 31 is a couple weeks away, it’s time now to start thinking about it,” she explained. “Making a plan so that by the 31st you really have a good sense of how to spend your year.”


She said there are also a lot of discounts only available in the first month of the year.


Many people don’t take vacation days for a number of reasons, the most common of which are they don’t have the time or money. But vacations matter — there are mental and physical health benefits, plus career benefits, according to Saupe.


“One thing that has been discovered is those who take 10 or fewer days of vacation receive fewer bonuses and fewer raises than those that take 11 or more days,” Saupe added.


She also mentioned that those who take more vacations tend to have less stress in their home life.


What if a person can’t take a vacation due to financial constraints, but still want to use their vacation days? Take a “staycation” instead, Saupe suggested, meaning take a few days off and explore what’s near home. Alaska is a huge state with varying landscapes and diverse communities a few hours outside of the Anchorage bowl. Visit Anchorage has a lot of great resources to start planning a “staycation” today.