American Vacation Habits

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Every year since I was a child, I would go on a vacation with my family. When I got to school, I was kind of surprised to learn how many of my friends didn’t have this experience. I feel very lucky that I got to go on vacation so regularly–I wish everyone did.


But one thing I found kind of curious was that many of the people I spoke to said their family had plenty of money for vacations–they just chose not to go on them! That surprised me. What can the experts tell me about people’s vacation habits?


Everyone loves a good vacation, and many Americans take vacations regularly: 45% of us will take a vacation any given summer, and others take vacations at other times of the year. Family vacations are popular, say the pros who run a San Diego family resort, and individuals and couples also take time to hit the beaches or go on a cruise.


But, on the whole, Americans don’t spend as much time taking vacations as you might expect. In fact, we lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to taking time off from work!


It’s not that our work isn’t giving us enough time off–at least not most of the time. The truth is that, every year, Americans leave vacation days on the table. This is true even though, in many cases, those vacation days expire and can’t be used the following year! The statistics are impressive: every year, the majority of working Americans sacrifice unused vacation days. For salaried employees, it’s as if they’re working for free!


In Silicon Valley, where work-life balance is (allegedly) a big part of attracting top talent, some companies give employees unlimited vacation days. That may sound like a good deal, but the reality is that employees with unlimited vacation days often take fewer days off, on average, than they otherwise would!


It seems that American work culture has it in for the vacation, and that’s not a good thing. As you’ve discovered, it’s hurting families by discouraging employees from taking time off. And lest you think that the companies are benefiting, here’s a surprising statistic: studies show that skipping vacations actually makes us less productive, not more. So workaholics aren’t actually helping their employers by skipping those vacations. It’s only hurting everyone!


Unfortunately, the trend shows signs of continuing. Young people are taking fewer vacations, even though they should take more. Perhaps, when you enter the work force, you can help reverse the trend by taking the sorts of vacations that you enjoyed so much in your younger years.


“Your mind will answer more questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” — William S. Burroughs