Summer is here, but depending on what part of Ventura County you live in, your summer may be very different. While overcast mornings and the smell of ocean mist covers the Ventura area, residents of Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley will experience 90-degree weather on and off all summer. Either way, with the kids out of school, the time to vacation is now. Vacation, unfortunately, has become a dirty word in many people’s vocabulary. The fear of getting behind at work or spending money across state lines seems more like a hassle than a relaxing two weeks away, but what a great vacation can do is stimulate the economy, bring a better awareness of the world around us, and make a return to work more productive. U.S. News & World Report recently found that most Americans want to do nothing for their vacation time, and this stems from many reasons, but one reason not mentioned could be a lack of pride in America. Americans used to pack up their station wagons to see the amber waves of grain; but with all the recent scandals, Americans feel they need a break from life, which hurts America more than most understand.

America is such a beautiful and diverse country, filled with sites that all Americans should see. One reason middle American families seem more “patriotic” is because, unlike elitist Leftist states California and New York, they appreciate their own states’ offerings plus the offerings of the Left Coast. If you haven’t seen the beauty of God’s creation at The Grand Canyon of Arizona, the caves of Carlsbad, New Mexico, the lakes of Michigan or Washington, or the red hills of Utah, you haven’t seen America. The 101 freeway is lovely scenery, but to truly understand what makes America great, traveling across state lines can bring a renewed love of America.

U.S. News & World Report found that many Americans are just staying home, and that isn’t healthy for anyone. The study found that “43 percent of Americans won’t take a summer vacation, with 49 percent of non-vacationers saying they can’t afford it. Another 11 percent said they can’t take time off from work, while 3 percent said they don’t like to be away from work. The survey also found that 41 percent of working Americans do not get paid vacation time from their employers.”

Often vacation is seen as a European/socialist ideal. Yet it was Republican president Teddy Roosevelt who was the biggest proponent of active vacations and seeing the country. Teddy was known to trim trees at Sagamore Hill and play tennis with artists around the country. Being active in new ways is stimulating and invigorating. Our perverted view of the Puritanical work ethic makes many Americans afraid they’ll lose their jobs, and many bosses refuse to vacation due to fear that employees will slack off, but the Society for Human Resource Management argues that vacation is good for Americans. Here’s what it found:

“The majority (77 percent) of HR managers agree that employees who take most or all of their vacation time are more productive in their jobs than those who do not. Further, HR managers believe that taking using vacation time leads to higher performance (75 percent) and increased job satisfaction (78 percent).”

The SHRM study also found that the “use it or lose it” strategy was better overall for the worker and company: “An overwhelming majority (85 percent) of talent managers at “use it or lose it” organizations agree that employees who take most or all of their vacation time are more productive in their jobs, 16 percentage points higher than HR managers at firms with rollover policies (69 percent).”

President Donald Trump talks a lot about making America great again. He can’t do that. But we can. And one simple way is to be better workers and better American citizens. When we travel, we make everything better again. Gas companies, hotels, restaurants, gift shops, tourist attractions, etc., all benefit financially; and the traveler benefits spiritually and professionally as well.

Stress levels are high in this country. The political climate isn’t helping. The American Psychology Association did a survey in January showing that Americans are at their highest stress in a decade. So make America great again by going out to see her, in all her glory.