According to data released in a 2009 vacation study, US adults who only receive an average of 13 vacation days per year, typically leave three days unused. When considering that the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics has recorded approximately 153 million employed Americans, this means that each year an average of 459 million vacation days are going unused in the United States.
The fact that people are not using all of their vacation days is well documented and the statistics are staggering.
“Vacations are not a luxury, they’re a necessity,” said John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, a nonprofit organization that studies issues related to overwork. “Men who take them are 32 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who don’t. For women, it’s 50 percent. And women who don’t take vacations are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression. Pass them by at your peril.”
A recent travel industry survey suggests that close to half (45 percent) of working Americans let hard-earned time away go to waste in 2009; furthermore, three-quarters (78 percent) anticipate leaving as many as 10 vacation days on the table in 2010.
Why the annual commitment to all work and no play? Most confess that coordinating schedules with family and friends is too difficult (51 percent) or they are not able to afford a “real vacation” (40 percent). Others admit it is less about personal situations and more about work-life being too busy to enjoy time away (47 percent).
While consumers express pessimism towards the possibility of a work escape, adults who choose to go on vacation feel reconnected with the family (53 percent), more productive and positive about their jobs (34 percent), as well as the health benefits of being rested and rejuvenated.
If the President of the United States, who just returned from a respite on Martha’s Vineyard, can still find time to take a vacation, then shouldn’t everyone?