Press | Blog

Blog Categories


The Secret to Maximizing Your Vacation Time This Year


The Secret to Maximizing Your Vacation Time This Year


By The Nebraska Tourism Commission

January 30, 2018


“So much to do, so little time.” While the phrase may sound like it perfectly describes our lives, research shows there actually is time.


Americans universally say that vacation days are important to them, yet 54 percent of workers aren’t using their hard-earned vacation time. Project: Time Off research found that workers are taking nearly a full week less of vacation than we did in 2000, resulting in a stockpile of 600 million unused vacation days.


The secret to achieving your travel goals this year, while maintaining your excellent employee status, is planning. Planning is the most important step in making vacation possible and, according to Project: Time Off, a majority (52%) of workers who set aside time each year to plan for travel take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. Planners also tend to take longer vacations: While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).


The benefits of planning extend beyond days spent away from the office for rest and rejuvenation. Planners report greater happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. Their bosses are probably happier, too, since they’re in the loop on when you’re going to be out and can prepare accordingly.


What are you waiting for? It’s time to take back your calendar and put vacation at the top of your list of priorities. Planning for vacation can be achieved in three simple steps:

1. Determine how much time off you earn and identify the vacation policies at your workplace.

2. Get to dreaming! How do you want to spend your time off this year?

3. Plan out your days with Project: Time Off’s vacation planning tool and share with your manager, your colleagues, spouse—everyone!

This year, don’t let your vacation days be part of a statistic. Put the fear of missing out behind you and turn your bucket list into a to-do list by starting to plan now.

Need some ideas?


Immerse yourself in Nebraska’s natural beauty.

Enjoy Nebraska’s metro area.


Discover the history of Nebraska’s western culture.

Read more about the importance of planning at

Five Nebraska spots to satisfy your inner astronomer

Five Nebraska spots to satisfy your inner astronomer

You came for the daytime show, The Great American Eclipse, now comes see Nebraska’s sky at night. Wide-open spaces and minimal city lights make Nebraska a top destination for seeing the stars. Photo: Merritt Reservoir


1. Merritt ReservoirValentine, Nebraska

At Merritt Reservoir in north-central Nebraska is home to the annual Star Party. This 3,000-acre body of water is in the midst of the Sandhills and a prime spot to explore the sky.

2. Double R Guest RanchMullen, Nebraska

The Double R Guest Ranch is also in the Sandhills, miles away from just about anything. Here, rent a cabin and view some of the darkest skies in the state.

3. Bootleg BrewersTaylor, Nebraska

Another Sandhills oasis, Bootleg Brewery is a spot where you can not only find a great beer, but also a sky full of stars on a clear night.

4. University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History and Mueller PlanetariumLincoln, Nebraska

View the stars on the big screen, University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History and Mueller Planetarium is the home to a 360-degree full dome theater, Archie (The largest Columbian mammoth fossil in the world) and much more.

5. Boswell ObservatoryCrete, Nebraska

Boswell Observatory is the oldest extant building on Doane's campus. Built in 1883, the observatory is still functional, and sky-viewing is held regularly through the original, 8-inch equatorial telescope.

Want to learn more about great Nebraska destinations?
Check out No eclipse glasses needed to view these Nebraska marvels


No eclipse glasses needed to view these Nebraska marvels

No eclipse glasses needed to view these Nebraska marvels

See them without the obstruction of the sun! Revisit, or visit for the first time, these great spots along Nebraska’s Great American Eclipse stretch of totality. This time around, we promise, Mr. Moon won’t block your view.

Courtesy: Omaha World-Herald

Crane Trust or Rowe Sanctuary; Wood River & Gibbon, Neb.

See one of wildlife’s most extraordinary shows. The largest single migration in North American takes place right on the Platte River as more than half a million sandhill cranes pass through the area on their northward migration. Trips to crane-viewing blinds are available every morning and evening during March and early April at the Crane Trust and Rowe Sanctuary.

Scotts Bluff National Monument; Gering, Neb.

Rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, there is much to discover while exploring the 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Chimney Rock; Bayard, Neb.

"Towering to the heavens" is how one pioneer described Chimney Rock. Today, an interpretive center overlooking the most recognized landmark along the Oregon Trail pays tribute to those pioneer travelers.

Carhenge; Alliance, Neb.

A famous quirky roadside attraction, Carhenge is a unique replica of the world-famous Stonehenge constructed of old cars.

Nebraska State Capitol; Lincoln, Neb.

Seen from miles away, the Capitol's majestic four hundred foot domed tower and low spreading base contain exterior and interior artwork representing the natural, social and political development of the state of Nebraska. Truly an architectural wonder!

Indian Cave State Park; Shubert, Neb.

Named for the large sandstone cave within the park, Indian Cave State Park encompasses 3,052 rugged acres bordering the mighty Missouri River.

Buffalo Bill Cody State Historical Park; North Platte, Neb.

Home to showman Buffalo Bill Cody for nearly 40 years, this land is now a state park. On-site find Cody’s Victorian home, massive barn and acres of open space.

Middle Loup River; Near Mullen, Neb.

Winding through Nebraska’s iconic Sandhills, the Middle Loup River is a fun spot for canoeing and tanking. Get your river adventure equipment at Glidden Canoe Rental.

Homestead National Monument; Beatrice, Neb.

Homestead National Monument of America commemorates the lives and accomplishments of all pioneers and the changes brought on by the Homestead Act. The park includes museum exhibits and videos, historic structures, hiking trails and a designated watchable wildlife site.

For more information on all that Nebraska has to offer, browse

Fat Bikes on the Prairie

I immediately noticed a familiar sound turning onto Whooping Crane Drive toward Crane Trust. The chirp of crickets and cicadas, the whispery rustle tall bluestem in the wind. It’s the sound of a living prairie.


I met with Ben Dumas, a recent addition to the Crane Trust team. Ben was hired to run a new initiative that offers VIP excursions through their historic tall grass prairie of Mormon Island and kayaking tours of the Platte River. Guests get the opportunity to experience this rare and complex ecosystem, equally enjoyed by the sandhill cranes and a herd of genetically pure bison.


It’s no secret I like riding bicycles, so when Ben offered to ride Crane Trust’s fat bikes around the prairie, I couldn't say no. Ben and I saddled up on our trusty steeds: a Surly Ice Cream Truck and Surly Moonlander. We headed south so he could show me some of the work they’ve been doing on their blinds to prepare for crane season. They also work on landscape management on the Platte River to maintain it as prime habitat for cranes. During lower flows they till the sandbars to rid them of vegetation, keeping a nice landing pad for cranes to roost. During higher flows the river naturally erodes this vegetation.


Next we headed North. The Trust maintains a set of trails in their prairie for these excursions that take you from the headquarters to the Nature center. Fat bikes are the perfect vehicle for this kind of terrain and ecotourism experience. It leaves very little footprint, is extremely capable off-road and without the noisy, erosive side effects of ATVs. To prove this Ben and I were startled when a doe jumped out of the tall grass just feet from us. Continuing on, we aimlessly rode around and shared our ideas on ecotourism.


I left the Trust that day with greater assurance that fat bikes are a perfect fit for experiencing the prairie. And a great guide like Ben makes the experience even better. It’s amazing how ecotourism continues to evolve as more people grow their interest in the prairie.

Q&A with Kirk Nelson - Nebraska Game and Parks

By Alex Duryea, Ecotourism Consultant, Nebraska Tourism Commission

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is implementing a plan to restore native prairie grasses and increase pollinator habitat along the Cowboy Trail. I talked with Kirk Nelson, the Assistant Division Administrator of Planning and Programing Division, who is leading the effort.

Q: Tell me about the Prairie Restoration Plan for the Cowboy Nature and Recreation Trail 
A: The trail is both a recreation and nature trail, it’s nationally designated as such. We’re interested in both facets of that designation. We want to increase the recreation aspect and increase the nature part of it to make it more of an ecological component of importance to wildlife. It's a narrow corridor, so it has it’s good sides and bad sides — but right now we’re focusing on prairie restoration.

Q: What was the catalyst in the pollinator movement?
A: There’s a national effort to help all pollinators. One of the big species that’s up front is the monarch butterfly. We’re focusing on milkweeds, first off, because we can get milkweed seedling and, second off, it’s something we can do that involves the communities [like] people planting the milkweeds and then learning about the plight of the monarch. So the milkweed is one component of that, the other component is a broader pollinator approach that benefits all pollinators. That's the prairie restoration part.

Q: Why the Cowboy Trail?
A: Well it needs work. We haven’t done much on it as far as habitat enhancement, and it was kind of a step-child that never got a lot of attention. It was expected to be a lot bigger of a recreational tourism component than it’s proven to be. So we’re looking at whatever avenues we can find to increase that. We’re hoping that people will be drawn to the trail if it has more ecological appeal. If you drive along it, ride along it, hike along it and see more butterflies, see more wildlife — watchable wildlife is one of the nation's biggest outdoor activities, and we’re trying to hook into it.

Q: Any challenges you’ve faced implementing the Prairie Restoration Plan?
A: It’s tricky, but it’s something that can be overcome. I think the biggest stumbling block we’ve got is the cost. It’s expensive. Prairie seed is expensive, it’s expensive to plant it, it’s expensive to maintain it. Those are items we’re going to have to have help with as we go on. That’s another thing that is something we can turn over to the communities.

Q: What role will the communities play in this plan?
A: Right now I hope they come out and help us plant and then maybe they can help us water these things, because it’s staying awful warm. These little milkweed plants need water ... that’s the first major emphasis. After that if they want to start to do more with other pollination species, we’re going to continue to expand this whole project to include them. We’re willing to work with people if they’re willing to work with us.



Learn more about the monarch migration here! See which of our ecotourism partners are good sites to see butterflies and other pollinators here.