Thoughts, Travel, travel tips

Americans Don’t Use Their Vacation Days, but They Should

Summer isn’t over yet and I’m already worrying about how I am going to occupy myself during winter and the slight seasonal depression that comes with it. My first thought is to escape to a warm island. Some people are busy planning their winter tropical getaways; however, many are not. They’re not going anywhere, even if they have time available at work.

Photo courtesy of STIL from Unsplash.

A new study from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos revealed that in 2018, 768 million vacation days went unused, which is a surprising 9 percent increase from 2017. America is notorious for being a work, work, work nation, so this doesn’t come as a surprise for me.

So why do Americans skip their paid and unpaid vacation days? I don’t know about you, but the first thing my mind goes to is people are scared to take off because they’ll fall behind at work or be seen as a slacker. I definitely have been groomed to feel this way, and I dread any day I have to take off work—even if it’s for something fun. It’s not just me, though, as I have read multiple articles that point to this trend and have experienced it with coworkers. And of course the economy comes into play, so even if workers would be happy to take off work for a vacation, they simply can’t afford it. There are so many reasons people choose to give back paid vacation days: money, family obligations, not wanting to return to a pile of work, feeling that the team will suffer when they’re gone, anxiety from the lack of connection, and so on.

Photo courtesy Estée Janssens from Unsplash.

But did you know there are so many countries around the world where taking vacations is normal? I just spoke to a coworker about her Greek roots that encourage long vacations. Her friend recently got back from a month in Greece and she was able to go for three weeks last year. I have thought for a while that America can take a lesson from other countries when it comes to our work ethic. Yes we need to work to live, but we are not living to work! It is so important to take time for ourselves, even if it’s just an extra day or two. There are endless benefits that come with taking vacations or a simple day off: relaxation, rejuvenation, a break from the stress of daily life and quality time spent with yourself or loved ones, to name a few.

This inevitably brings me to the life motto I have had since I was a tween: live life to the fullest. It may be cliché, but it gets me a long way. Work is important, but we never know when it’s our last day on Earth, so I think it’s essential to take a break from reality when we can.

Have you ever been conflicted about taking time off work even when you had the go? Let me know your thoughts below!



3 thoughts on “Americans Don’t Use Their Vacation Days, but They Should”

  1. I believe that I can truly say that I’ve rarely, if ever, been seriously conflicted in a choice between work and vacation. For the first half of my career I was fortunate to be a member of a very fine organization which not only granted relatively generous vacation periods (starting at two weeks and going to six weeks) and which provide great coverage during my absences. For the past many years, I have been self employed in a profession which allows work to be accomplished from any site that has internet access. Therefore, I have been able to address my need to travel while managing to avoid falling behind on matters that require a few hours of attention while I am out of the office. I recognize that this practice represents a bit of a compromise and a step back from a pure no-work vacation, but for me its an adjustment that’s represents no real sacrifice. I count myself very fortunate to be blessed with a vocation that permits me great flexibility and loved ones who tolerate slight deviations from a pure vacation when we travel together!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I certainly think everyone should vacation, especially while they are younger. Things
    get harder as one ages, such as illnesses, fatigue, lack of funds etc. So, if you
    can manage, then do it!

    Liked by 1 person

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