If you’re an average American you earn three weeks’ vacation each year, yet you leave 20 percent of it on the table.
According to a study from the travel site Expedia, by taking only 12 of our 15 vacation days in the last year we amassed a total 375 million unused days—or more than a million years. Scary.
Why do we do it? Guilt seems to be a big factor, along with insecurity. For example:
- One in seven of us (14 percent) feel guilty about taking vacation, period. In fact, 6 percent of us (one in 17) feel so guilty we just avoid vacation altogether.
- One in 11 of us (9 percent) believe our boss will think poorly of us if we take all our vacation.
- Nearly one in three of us (29 percent) go a year or more between vacations.
- More than one in five of us (22 percent) wait at least a year to take time off when we get a new job.
Your Scribe, being the insecure soul that he is, fits right in there. Given three weeks of vacation last year, I left nearly a week of it behind. To be fair, no one I work for thought I should forgo any vacation—in fact, they let me take the time up to six months into the new year, and they sent several warnings as my deadline approached. It didn’t much matter, though. I guess I’m just a typical American.
The good news?
You might take some comfort in knowing we’re not the worst. The study says the average South Korean worker is even more stressed, getting 15 days’ vacation but taking only eight. At the other end of the scale, typical workers in Spain, Finland and France get 30 days’ vacation and take them all.
What’s the takeaway? Who knows. Clearly many of us need to focus on work-life balance. And maybe, on occasion, when we get the chance, if it isn’t too inconvenient for everyone else, we can just relax.