Vacation Inequity

Most Americans only take one vacation a year. I thought that was an interesting statement when I read it in an article a few years ago and have not given it much thought until I started thinking about this weeks blog post. One vacation a year— that seems so dismal, so depraved and I cannot help but wonder why that is. There is no simple answer to this question, but I think the answer starts with the fact that the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that does not legislate paid time off as part of compensation. On average Americans are provided 10 days of paid leave per year with 25% of American workers having no paid time off.


According to the American Travel Association 52% of Americans don‘t use all the paid leave that they have earned in a year. In fact, between 1978 and 2000 the average number of days workers took off per year was 20.3. Between 2000 and 2014 the number of days off fell dramatically with an all time low of 16 days in 2014. The good news is that, since then, the numbers have been steadily increasing with an average of 17.2 days being taken in 2018. sadly Many companies have adopted a “use it or lose it policy” and 212 million paid vacation days were lost because they were never used.

The American Travel Association study found a direct correlation between job satisfaction/performance and using paid time off for travel. The following table showed a substantial increase in happiness with one’s job and employer when they work for a company that encourages and supports time off vs a company that is ambivalent or discourages use of time off all together. Beyond job satisfaction, the data also suggests that people are happier overall if they are regularly encouraged to air time off from their jobs.

There are many reasons why Americans only use a portion of annual leave— too many to examine in a single blog post. Given the above data, it is clear that taking time off from work is important on many levels and only utilizing a portion of that time for travel make the time used even more important. Recharging your mental and emotional batteries appears to be a key component to being a successful and productive employee and the best way do that is to go somewhere on vacation. Throughout my adult life I have found myself getting anxious if I have gone too long without taking a trip of some kind. This could be something as simple as visiting family on a holiday weekend or a big vacation that required research and planning. The table below shows the effect on your general happiness traveling has and the negative effect not using all your time off can have on your outlook.



So, what can we take away from this study? The first, and most important thing, is take time to rejuvenate yourself. Make vacationing a priority in your life and spend some time away from the daily grind. The second thing you can take away from this study is that taking time off from work is important, but HOW you are spending your time off is equally important. When compared with other developed countries, many of whom mandate 30+ days off in the form of paid holidays and mandated PTO offerings, America is lagging in this important area of employee benefits. Maximizing your time off becomes exponentially more important in this context, and planning your vacation is a great way to make every minute away from your desk count. Let Grandeur Travel Planning help you plan the perfect respite to refresh your life.


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