Americans Not Using Their Vacation Time

Employees taking on average less than half of entitled days off
A grounded plane in the distance

While most job seekers often expect paid vacation time as a benefit, many working Americans actually don’t take all of the time they are entitled to, new research shows.

Travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance USA commissioned public opinion polling company Ipsos to survey 1,005 American adults as part of Allianz’s Vacation Confidence Index, which has been conducted every summer since 2009. They found that vacation may not be as big of a priority among the nation’s workforce as some might think.

When it comes to using their entitled vacation time, working Americans only take on average 41% of their days off, the study found. Over one-third of employees take less than a quarter of their time off, while 20% don’t take any time off.

The research also suggests that company culture may be to blame for some employees’ decision to leave vacation time unused. Survey respondents said their bosses take, on average, 51% of entitled vacation time. Slightly more than half (52%) of those surveyed said the amount of vacation time they take is comparable with the amount their bosses are taking.

Those findings underscore the fact that many are skipping vacations entirely, which are defined for the study’s purposes as a leisure trip of at least a week to a location at least 100 miles from home. Approximately 36% of respondents haven’t taken a vacation in more than two years and over half — 51% — said they have not taken a vacation in more than a year. Only 42% of respondents said they felt confident they would take a summer vacation this year, which is the lowest percentage since 2013. The survey was administered from May 30th to June 2nd.

Survey respondents who weren’t confident they would take a summer vacation gave a variety of reasons why they might skip a getaway this year.

  • 44% don’t have money to spend on a vacation
  • 20% have a personal obligation outside of work preventing them from taking a vacation
  • 19% don’t want to spend their money on a vacation
  • 14% cannot take time off from work
  • 12% do not want to take time off from work
  • 10% said planning a vacation is too stressful and time-consuming

If taking a vacation is a priority for you, start planning early, first by exploring the average cost of a vacation so you know what to expect. Then, budget a certain allotment to pay for your vacation over time. If your credit card offers travel rewards, you may be able to cut down on some of your travel costs by redeeming points for hotels, airfare or car rentals. If you don’t have money for a long vacation or can’t take a week off from work, you may also consider taking a weekend trip as short getaways have become more popular recently.

Even if you choose not to go away on vacation, consider using all of your entitled vacation days just to get some rest and relaxation. Earlier this year, a Gallup poll revealed Americans were among the 10 most stressed populations in 2018.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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