Vacation Days – Take Them All!

Once again, vacation time is in the news with a new study by the US Travel Association showing that most Americans forfeit almost a week of paid vacation per year.

The study – based on a survey of over 7K workers – says that people earn an average 23.4 paid time off days/year, but take only 17.2 days off. The time forfeited equals $66.4B in free labor for employers, or about $600 per employee.

Sadly, according to the study, the number of vacation days people say they take has dropped quite a bit over the last 15 years …

Over 60% of workers forfeiting paid time off say it is because “they fear looking replaceable” and 56% say they “lack coverage at work.” 56% also say that their workload is too much for them to get away.

These feelings often pop up when I talk with people about taking a permanent vacation – reaching retirement. I had a beer with a former colleague two weeks ago who said that he didn’t think anyone else at MegaCorp could effectively do his job. He said he was super busy in his role and said “if I leave, it will be a major setback for the company.”

If that’s truly the case, he himself needs to focus on creating his successor. That said, I doubt a $30B+ company with almost 90K employees is that dependent on one person. Still, it demonstrates how pervasive the culture of ‘No Vacation Nation’ is embedded into people’s mindsets.

For my part, I did an excellent job maximizing my vacation time during my entire career. Any vacation days I may have forfeited over 27+ years were certainly made up unofficially with an occasional ‘Ferris Bueller Day’.

Need more assurance that taking all of your vacation time is a good plan? The vacation days study even shows that folks that max out their vacation allotment typically perform better on the job than those who stay at work. They benefit from relaxing and taking time off.

What summer travel plans are you taking time off for?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Vacation Days – Take Them All!

  1. At the IT place I used to work I would occasionally overhear other long time co-workers saying they lost a week vacation time etc. Sometimes it was hard to use it all as different jobs and projects were coming in all the time and many long time workers were getting like 6 weeks a year. Plus even though you had a backup, they didnt really know all the in’s and outs of everything that was going on. That said I would always find a way to use up my PTO time even if it meant taking off on a Tues or Wed. The trick is taking it before the end of the year and inevitably something comes up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the MegaCorps that I worked at, you weren’t allowed to carry unused vacation over from year to year. Some bosses didn’t care, but others were real sticklers about it. As a result, the office would be largely empty at the end of the year as people ‘burned’ up there extra days. As you say, better to use them on a Tuesday or Wednesday than lose them.


  2. Vacation is an accrued benefit. Don’t ever let an employer dictate that you can or can’t take vacation. If you give proper notification of your intent and offer suggestions on coverage you have done your part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well put. The same goes for people giving final notice before retirement. Many companies come back to people close to their departure date and ask them to stay on longer because of a project, or a backfill not being decided on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, it is so funny you said that! I worked at a place for 17 years and we called it hotel California for that very reason. When I gave notice in January my team half jokingly said see you at the Christmas party. Sure enough they came to me and ask me to stay longer. After 4 weeks they came to me again with an offer to stay indefinitely until a proper replacement was found. 8 weeks after giving my 2 week notice I finally had enough and left. I would probably still be there or dead if I didn’t just go.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I thought of it because an acquaintance is going through it right now. As an executive, he gave several months notice, but with just a few weeks to go they came to him asking if he would stay until the end of the year.

        Liked by 1 person

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