Do Americans Hate Vacation?

American Vacation

Did you know that as an American you’re far less likely to take a vacation than workers in any other developed nation in the world?

There are a number of studies out there that show the value of vacations. According to research from the University of Illinois, vacations make workers more focused and productive in the long run. A separate study from Disney shows that vacations are valuable time for families, when they can learn about each other and become more affectionate. When it comes to your health, vacation can make a big difference, too. This study from the State University of New York found that taking yearly vacations decreases one’s chances of having a heart attack.

There you have it: scientific proof that vacation is good for you. So why, despite this evidence, are so few Americans taking time off? There are actually a number of reasons, from the national policy level on down to personal employment fears and growing technology addiction.

Paid Vacation Isn’t Required in the US

First off, let’s cover the legal side. A recent study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research looked at vacation policies in 21 “rich” countries including 16 European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. Among this pool, the U.S. was the only nation that did not require employers to provide paid vacation time. By comparison, European nations are quire liberal with vacation time. France, for example, requires employers to provide 30 paid vacation days, while the United Kingdom requires 28 and Norway 25.

Many American employers do still offer some or all employees paid vacations – in fact, 77% of U.S. private-sector workers are in jobs where their employer offers at least some paid vacation. Part-time and low wage U.S. workers, however, are much less likely to receive any paid vacation days – just 35% of part-time U.S. workers get paid vacation.

But You Probably Wouldn’t Take That Vacation, Anyway

A separate study from Harris Interactive for Jet Blue shows that 57% of working Americans had unused vacation days at the end of 2011. Most of these folks had 11 days on the table, or 70% of their allotted vacation time. Why the wasted vacation time? While 60% of us believe that we do in fact deserve to take time off, 39% report having reservations about asking the boss for a vacation. A separate study shows that 87% of Americans would take more leisure time if they felt they had the time and money to do so.

Or, You’d Take a Vacation and Work the Whole Time

But even if we’re lucky enough to get paid vacation from our bosses and wise enough to actually take it, that doesn’t mean we’re in relaxation mode. A Harris Poll finds that of those who plan to take vacations, 30% will read work-related emails, 23% will take work-related phone calls, 18% will receive work-related text messages and 13% will be asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague during their time off.

If money is your primary reason for avoiding valuable vacation time, stay tuned! Over the next several weeks, we’ll cover apps, stay-cations and other strategies for taking a much-needed break without blowing your budget.

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