America is facing an epidemic. We are overworked, underpaid, and neglecting our vacation time. If we do use our time off, it’s not being used for vacation. Project Time Off noticed this was a problem, so they started researching and reporting about the state of American vacation time. Their mission is to educate Americans the benefits of taking advantage of their time off and change the downward trend.
According to their research, Americans have an average of 17.1 vacation days per year, and only 8 are used for travel. Out of those surveyed, 52% don’t use all of their eligible vacation time, yet 84% say it’s important to use vacation days to travel. So why aren’t we using that time?
It mostly boils down to America’s work ethic. There are things we’re told to not discuss, such as salary and vacation time. Additionally, the competitive “you could be replaced at any time” mentality in our careers creates a fear of taking your full vacation time – what is actually owed to you. This fear is what leads to the phenomenon experts call work martyrdom.
Other causes of work martyrdom include incredibly heavy workloads and lack of coverage. Working hard non-stop my look good on paper, but in reality, it leads to burnout, loss of productivity, and extensive stress. Additionally, when employees do not take leisure time from work, their personal relationships suffer as well. This lack of work-life balance leads to a lower quality of work.
With this information, it’s no surprise that 70% of vacation-goers are more motivated about their work than those who didn’t use their time for vacations. Only 55% of people who don’t take vacations regularly felt motivated. Along these lines, 63% of vacation-goers feel a sense of belonging at their company, while only 43% of people who don’t use their time do. Feeling comfortable enough in your job to take a real vacation, whether domestic or abroad, is a great way to relax, expand creatively, and bring your life to a healthy balance.
There are different ways to take advantage of your vacation time depending on your budget and amount of time you receive.
- Staycation- a vacation spent in one's home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions. It’s a great way to save money and enjoy local resources.
- Workcation- popular with millennials, a vacation where one spends time getting work done remotely, whether domestic or abroad and for any length of time.
- International- a vacation spent abroad.
- Domestic- a vacation spent in one’s home country.
All four are great options to take a break from the 9-5 and clear your head. Workcations can be planned with your company, and there are even groups like Remote Year which allows for a year-long workcation where you can travel around the world while doing your job.
If you don’t have the opportunity to work abroad, you want to break the cycle and take advantage of your vacation time, there are ways to protect yourself. Some travel insurance companies offer Cancel for Work Reasons. If your vacation time is revoked or you happen to lose your job your trip will be covered. If you’re not sure you’d be covered for Cancel for Work Reason, there’s also Cancel for Any Reason which refunds up to 75% of your trip cost depending on your coverage.
If your goal is to be the best employee possible, take that vacation. Go somewhere you’ve always dreamed of going, or, if that doesn’t fit in your budget, stay local and explore your locale’s hidden treasures. Take the time to care for yourself, explore new hobbies, and enjoy time with loved ones. You’ll end up feeling refreshed and ready to put in the work.