Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 02 2013

Americans Failed to Take 500 Million Vacation Days Over the Past Year

By Daniel Metz

vacation days

Vacation. It’s a word that sounds relaxing, refreshing, and unfortunately, overwhelmingly difficult to actually enjoy. Whether you have too much going on at the office, your spouse can’t take time away from the job or your kids are involved in too many activities, planning a getaway can be challenging.

A new study shows that those challenges are getting even bigger for the majority of American workers. According to the most recent Vacation Deprivation study from Expedia, the average American will leave four vacation days unused in 2013. In 2011, the figure was just two days. Based on employment numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, Expedia’s research reveals that Americans will collectively waste 577,212,000 vacation days this year. How’s that for depressing?

SEE ALSO: The Warning Sign That You’re Working Too Much

The most common reason that people don’t use those days is thinking too far ahead. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents indicated that they “like to accumulate vacation days for trips that I may take in the future.”

However, every employee knows how that game ends. While planning in advance for a big getaway sounds appealing, those plans can be easily interrupted by scheduling issues or the next big project that lands in your lap at work. Expedia’s research reveals that 11 percent of employees say that work is “their life”, and eight percent worry “important work decisions” will be made while they’re gone. Another eight percent worry their bosses will question why they’re draining all of their potential days away.

“No one retires wishing they’d spent more time at their desk,” John Morrey, vice president and general manager, Expedia.com, says. “There are countless reasons that vacation days go unused - failure to plan, worry, forgetfulness, you name it. But rested employees are more productive employees, so taking regular vacations may well help the company more than failing to do so.”

Okay, so it’s not surprising that anyone at Expedia wants you or me to spend our money on hotels, flights, rental cars and other travel expenses, but Morrey does make a strong point. We live in an era dominated by overworking. From checking email inboxes as soon as the alarm goes off to eating lunch at the desk to finishing another presentation at home, work-life balance seems to be continually tipping toward the office.

SEE ALSO: When Meetings Meet Family Vacation Time

It’s early in the month, which means there is still time to take advantage of one of the biggest perks of having a steady job: the ability to leave it behind for a bit. 

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