It is time to have a serious talk about the American fear of taking paid vacation days. Its starts by making a firm resolve not to let another year go by without making travel plans. Every other country in the world knows how to put work on hold long enough to rejuvenate soul and return to work with a happier and healthier attitude. Where did we go so wrong as a nation?
In 1992, Juliet Schor wrote a book called The Overworked American. This problem has been around and documented for at least 23 years. It has gotten far worse now that we have smart phones and social media to keep us connected to our jobs 24/7. That’s a lot of extra unpaid time for most of us by the way….kudos for volunteering your time to big corporations with no regard for your personal wellbeing. You are not alone.
- According to the US State Department, 1/3 of the population has a passport, but few are using them.
- A study by the US Travel Association states Americans Accumulated 429 million unused paid days off in 2014.
- The same study determined that the average 20 days of paid vacation per year dropped to 16 days after 2001 wasting $52.4 billion in paid benefits.
- The Center for Economic Policy and Research found that theUS is the only rich nation without legally mandated vacations for employees.
These statistics have no rationale. Other countries go to work, take a leisurely stroll home, pick up a few items needed for dinner on the way, and proceed to enjoy their evening. They are not interested in working harder to obtain more material stuff and they are not afraid to take the entire month of July off to spend with family, experience new cultures, learn new things and meet new people. Taking time off does not mean you’re a terrible worker, it means you’re a smart one. Be as crazy and driven about your work as you want, but take the time for paid vacation and a much needed break to reconnect with reality.
As a content writer, I am hearing about reaching out to solve consumer needs and problems, altruistic behavior being put before the company bottom line, using trust and honesty to engage people, and improving quality of life. Whether a hard-working, low level employee or corporate executive, you too qualify as consumers and are, in fact, people. Take your given vacation days and return to us a better version of the person your boss and staff rely on.
Do I need to remind anyone that our economy recently collapsed over materialistic greed and a lack of empathy for the hard work done by the majority of middle class Americans? The same people who worked themselves to death in order to retire one day and finally have the time to see the world and all its promise. Go now while you still can. Our Western peers are:
- France mandates 30 days of paid vacation annually
- Austria commands 22 days off plus 13 paid holidays
- Sweden has CEOs considering asix-hour work day, get 25 days off each year
- Skift report shows that 51 percent of Americans didn’t takea single vacation day in 2014.
Sadly, fear is a motivator: the fear of getting behind in work or being replaceable. But a survey by The Creative Group shows 40 percent of executives thought their employees would be more productive if they took their vacations and only 9 percent said they believed productivity would decrease. Also, if employees took one more day of earned leave a year, the US economy would benefit in sales to the tune of $73 billion. Guilt assuaged.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain.
The American ‘all or nothing’ attitude describes how we eat, drink, spend, and work. Taking time off would increase our mental health, our understanding of ourselves, families, and other cultures. Vacations have been known to actually reduce the risk of heart disease and even recharge the brain. We have over 195 countries on the planet to explore.
To learn more about how to travel more often no matter your budget, go to VacationSooner.com and then contact me for more information.
Dannen-Redman, L., 2015. Conde Nast Traveler, At Home in the World, Why Are Americans So Afraid of Vacation? http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2015-12-21/why-are-americans-so-afraid-of-vacation?mbid=nl_122715_Daily&CNDID=25398595&spMailingID=8382749&spUserID=MTAyNjE4ODE2MjUyS0&spJobID=822901407&spReportId=ODIyOTAxNDA3S0