Why Vacations are Important – Even Though Americans Don’t Take Them

Traveleidoscope: Why Vacations Are Important - Even Though Americans Don't Take Them

Overworked? Overwhelmed? In desperate need of a vacation, but it’s not in the budget or can’t get the time off? Given up on taking a vacation altogether? If so, you’re not alone! But here’s why you need to plan a getaway anyway!

Traveleidoscope: QuickChek Festival of Ballooning, NJ

First, the Bad News... At Least if You Live in the U.S.

I recently read a Washington Post article posing the question why Americans are against vacations. The article pointed out various countries that mandate at least 20 annual paid vacation days. The U.S., on the other hand, mandates no paid vacation time. Of the 36 richest countries in the world, the U.S. is the only country without it.

So, it’s not that we’re necessarily against vacation. We just don’t get much of it, if we’re lucky to get it at all. And when we do take time off, it’s usually five nights or less (aka, the “micro-cation”). Even if we do get paid vacation leave, there are the other pressures, like:

(1) Your co workers vacation shame you– Yeah, I know, making someone feel bad for taking time off? That they’ve earned? What the...?

(2) You still work when you're on vacation because you feel guilty about taking a vacation. Double what the....?

(3) Vacations can cost a lot. According to Credit Donkey, "the average vacation costs $1,145 per person (or $4,580 for a family of 4)."

And it's not just the monetary cost. Traveling poses its own special brand of stress. Between airfare, lodging, activities, it all adds up money-wise and stress-wise. And really, sometimes the last thing you want to deal with is more stress getting on an airplane, sitting in traffic or dealing with crowds. Sometimes, you’re idea of a vacation is veg-ing out, sitting on the couch in your PJ's, eating potato chips and binge watching __________ (fill in the blank).

Traveleidoscope: Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

The Gruesome Statistics:

Here are some ugly stats from the U.S. Travel Association ( for the year 2017):

  • Total unused vacation days annually: 705 million (Yes, million!)

  • American employees with unused vacation time: 52%

  • Average number of vacation days taken in 2017: 17.2

  • Vacation days forfeited annually: 21 million (Yes, million!)

And Now for Some Good News..

According to the U.S. Travel Association, it’s getting better for Americans – They’re starting to take more vacation time. Based on the info in the Washington Post article, Americans used an average of 17.4 days of paid time off in 2018, up slightly from 17.2 days in 2017. Whoa! We’re practically slackers!

Traveleidoscope: Burgundy, France

What Studies Show About Vacations and Our Health

I swear, I’m not just making this up as an excuse for another vacation! Studies show that vacations are actually good for us – they help us reset and refocus and relax. People who take vacations have fewer health problems and a better outlook on life. Take a look.

Traveleidoscope: Why Vacations Are Important - Even Though Americans Don't Take Them

Effects on Mental and Physical Health:

The Bad: Stress contributes to all sorts of health issues. According to a Mayo Clinic article, prolonged periods of stress alters the brain and contributes to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems and weight gain. Yikes!

The Good: Taking a vacation can reduce the risk of those illnesses and recharge your brain. After a vacation, workers are more productive and less susceptible to burnout.

The biggest bump of all comes from what? Not the vacation itself, but planning a vacation! Yup! A New York Times article explains that you can benefit from trip planning as far in advance as eight weeks before your vacation! Woohoo!

So, what can you do if you want to take a vacation, but don’t have a lot of time or money? Come back next week for ideas for a “micro-cation”!

Traveleidoscope: Azores

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it!

You Might Also Like:

By clicking the subscribe button, you also agree to subscribe to our marketing campaigns.

Advertiser Disclosure:  Traveleidoscope may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain products and services, or by your clicking on links posted on this website. For an explanation of Traveleidoscope's Advertising Policy, visit this page.  

Editorial Disclosure:  Any compensation that may be received does not influence our research and editorial comments.  Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by the advertiser.

Disclaimer:  The content of this website is for informational and/or educational purposes only.  


Welcome to Travleidoscope! Hey, what’s with the name?  Traveleidoscope is a combination of the words travel and kaleidoscope.  While a kaleidoscope creates colorful patterns, it doesn’t ever seem to produce the same pattern twice.  And so, I want my love of travel and outdoorsy activities to be sort of like a kaleidoscope - never really getting the same experience twice!  I’ll share what I’ve learned in my adventures through 60 countries and territories (including the bumps and bruises of it all!).   Hope you enjoy! Thanks for stopping by and here’s to always having a bon voyage! 

© 2016 Taveleidoscope, LLC. Proudly created with Wix.com