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The month of January can be dark and cold in many places throughout the world. And after the time and energy spent on celebrating winter holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day, the first couple of months of the new year can often be difficult and tiring. That makes this a great time to escape from the humdrum of normal life, get out of that routine, and get ready to enjoy something new and exciting! 

History of National Escape Day

The idea of taking a vacation has been around for a long time, although it’s hard to trace it back exactly. In the past, the ability to take time to rest and escape from normal life would have typically been an option only for those who were particularly wealthy or powerful because average workers simply couldn’t afford to take the time off.

As the world has been industrialized and modern workers have gained rights for themselves related to safety and working conditions, the practice of taking paid vacations or paid time off has evolved. Today, at least in most developed countries, it is now commonplace to allow regular, full-time workers some sort of time off for rest and vacation.

In Europe, the standard is four weeks each year. In the United States there are no legal requirements for paid leave, but many companies offer from two weeks to four weeks or more (including sick days), based on seniority and other factors.

For many people, whether it’s taking a vacation or just taking a day off from the normal grind, the end of January is a perfect time for some “me time”. And that’s why National Escape Day was established as a reminder to get away for a day (or more if possible), gather yourself and come back refreshed and ready for the next thing!

National Escape Day Timeline


Harry Houdini performs his great escape

Called his “Chinese water torture cell”, Houdini patents this trick and gains tons of media coverage.[1]


Escape from Alcatraz film is released

Starring the venerable Clint Eastwood, this movie is based on a true story. [2]


Europe legislates paid vacation time

Countries in the EU are required to provide at least 20 days (4 weeks) of paid leave per year.[3]


First escape room is played

The first escape room to be officially played happens in Kyoto, Japan and the trend spreads from there. [4]


First National Escape Day is celebrated

Encouraging people to get away from their normal routines, National Escape Day is established.

How to Celebrate National Escape Day

Whether it means getting out of the country, getting out of town, or simply taking the day off work and getting out the normal routine, National Escape Day is an important time to regular self care and restore balance to life. Consider some of these interesting ideas for celebrating the day, or get creative and come up with some of your own:

Get Out of Town

Throw a picnic lunch into the back of the car and head out of town for an adventure. Perhaps this means making a plan for a specific destination or it might just mean seeing where the road might take you at random. With opportunities to see the countryside or visit a city, take in a movie at a local cinema or grab lunch at a roadside cafe, getting away from it all can be a delight.

Escape into a Good Book

Sometimes the most realistic way for us to escape from our current situation is to get involved in the fantasy world of a good book! Fiction books are an especially good way to get out of the present world for a little while and escape into a world of fantasy where other people’s adventures and imagination await.

Consider one of these books for reading as an escape from reality:

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The main character in this intriguing novel happens upon the Midnight Library where she can see all of the other lives she might have lived if she had made different choices.
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. This psychological thriller based in the 1950s offers a bit of an escape from reality because no one even knows exactly who the main character really is!
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Really, any book by this author makes a great escape into the world of intrigue and mystery. This one, of course, features the great work of Hercule Poirot and a group of suspects.
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Telling the story of his English family’s adventures on the Greek island of Corfu when he was a child, Durrell’s biographical account reads more like a delightfully comedic novel.

Unplug for the Day

For those who don’t have the time or money to get away, or who just don’t feel like being away from home, perhaps consider taking National Escape Day as a time to escape from the world by turning off the wifi at home, muting the phone, and unplugging every from the outside world that might act as a distraction. Make plans to sleep late, create some art, go for a walk in nature, enjoy reading or play with your dog. Have everything unscheduled and unplugged and see what kind of small adventures might be possible!

Practice Some Self Care

Even if it’s not possible to take the whole day off of work for National Escape Day, perhaps it would be possible to take a couple of hours for a long lunch or take the afternoon off to schedule a massage, manicure or pedicure. Escape from the pressures of life by taking some special time out to relax, perhaps spend a bit of time in the sauna or whirlpool bath, or just take a bubble bath at home to ease away all of those worries and stress.

Escape on a Vacation

If it’s possible, one amazing way to celebrate National Escape Day is to get out of town on vacation to the beach or an island getaway. For parents, this might be a good time to leave the kids with grandma or grandpa and get away alone or as a couple. Grab that swimsuit and suntan lotion, book a flight and get off to somewhere warm to soak up some sunshine and get refreshed!

Whether booking through a travel agent or doing online research through travel websites, this is a great follow up from Shop for Travel Day!

National Escape Day FAQs

How can I escape from reality?

Escaping from reality for a bit can be done through reading books, watching movies, taking a soak in a tub, going camping, making art and much more. [1]

How to play an escape room?

Playing an escape room usually involves solving puzzles, communicating as a team, finding clues and sharing discoveries.[2]

Do escape rooms have emergency exits?

For legal and safety reasons, most escape rooms have emergency exits, or may not actually lock people in at all.

Who escaped from Alcatraz?

In 1962, three convicts escaped from Alcatraz: John Anglin, Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris.[3]

Are escape rooms scary?

There should usually be nothing to fear when playing an escape room and there’s nothing claustrophobic about them as it’s more of a mental game than anything else.[4]

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