1. You view it as a badge of honor.

“I haven’t taken a day off from work in five years.” There are correct and incorrect inflections for this sentence. If you’re using the same tone of voice you would bragging to your friends about how much you lifted at the gym yesterday, your priorities may need readjusting.

2. Your sunscreen has actually expired.

Does sunscreen even go bad? You aren’t sure, but you’re definitely not going to trust whatever squeezes out of those gnarly-looking bottles at the back of your medicine cabinet. Thanks to a series of bitter-cold winters, paired with summers when you were “just too busy” to emerge from the cocoons of home and office, your skin these days is several shades lighter than it was when you were a kid.

3. You’ve come to think of squirrels, raccoons, and pigeons as “wildlife.”

There’s more to fauna than trash scavengers and mangy birds. You can interact with Earth’s creatures in ways other than desperately trying to trap that squirrel in your attic. Think swinging through the rainforest canopy with howler monkeys, diving with dolphins…

4. Your sanity feels a lot like an endangered species.

Do the words “overworked” and “under-vacationed” describe you with terrifying accuracy? Do you stay cooped up in an office all day, sacrificing time in nature, time with friends and family, for the illusion of “getting ahead”? Here’s a message for you:

5. You’re sitting on over two months of accumulated paid leave…with no intention of using it.

According to Expedia’s 2013 Vacation Deprivation study, we leave more than 500,000,000 perfectly legit vacation days unused every year in the US. If those aren’t epidemic-level numbers, I’m not sure what are. Do your part to end the scourge of squandered time off. Take the pledge: “I’m going to use all my days this year (and throw in a few sick days for good measure).”

6. You don’t recognize yourself in your passport photo.

Who is that carefree young adventure traveler staring back at you opposite all the faded entry and exit stamps? Whatever happened to her?

7. Talking with your neighbor from Des Moines qualifies as an “intercultural exchange.”

There’s a wide world out there, with peoples and cultures you can learn a lot from. You’re doing yourself a disservice by staying rooted squarely in your own geographic bubble.

8. That time you almost spilled coffee on your keyboard was your only adrenaline spike in months.

Put the coffee mug down, close your eyes, and just imagine the feeling you’ll get when you’re surfing the breaks of Tamarindo, trekking through the Arenal rainforest at night, whitewater rafting down the Naranjo River…

9. You don’t mind working 60 hours a week because you get to telecommute on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


10. In that photo of you on a tropical beach that’s hanging in your cubicle, you’re wearing a fanny pack.

Or is that your mom? Either way, the neon one-piece is looking pretty hideous…and not in an ironic way. It’s about time for an updated family vacation photo.

11. You logged 40 hours on Kayak last month when you were supposed to be working.

You’ve transformed the activity of airfare shopping into a neurotic obsession. “Wait, will it be cheaper if I connect through DFW instead of MIA?” “Prices might be lower if I search at 3am on a Tuesday!” Time to click “Purchase” already!

12. Your work/life balance is best graphically represented by a humpback whale and a red-eyed tree frog on a seesaw.

Work-life balance cartoon

13. Your hiking boots have been swallowed by dust bunnies in the back of your closet.

Your suitcases have become de facto junk drawers under your bed, and you can’t remember the last time you cracked open your once-prized travel journal. Step 1: Clean and declutter. Step 2: Book a ticket and go.

14. You’re unable to define pura vida, even though you speak fluent Spanish.

There are only two explanations for this: 1) You’re not quite as fluent as you thought you were, or 2) You’ve never been to Costa Rica. Time to fix that, and learn what “pure life” is all about.

15. You can count workweeks like tree rings by measuring the depression worn into your office chair.

The research does not pan out in your favor on this one, with recent studies correlating adverse health effects with overly sedentary (read: office worker) lifestyles, and suggesting that employees who fail to take time off can actually become less productive over time. It’s time to save the Americans!

16. Inner peace sounds more like the punchline of a joke than a legitimate state of being.

That’s just a term people throw around, not something anyone actually feels, right? Sounds like you haven’t had enough yoga time on the beach lately.

17. You have nothing to contribute when the topic of travel comes up in conversation.

Lisette went paragliding in Austria last month. Stefan is taking a month off to backpack around Central America. Caroline volunteers at a sea turtle conservation center every year. What do you have going on…reorganizing those sales databases yet again?

18. You’ve mistaken the concrete jungle for the actual jungle.

No, that mound of dirt in the construction site on your way to work does not look like the Poás Volcano. And the morning fog in the suburbs (or is it smog?) bears no resemblance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

19. You’re worried about getting lost on the way to the airport.

Remind me…where is that big place with all the planes coming and going? We have one of those here?