Study: American vacation usage highest in 7 years, but many days still left unused


American workers took an average of 17.2 days of vacation in 2017, reaching its highest point in seven years, according to a new study.

According to the study "Project: Time Off" by State of American Vacation 2018, the trend may "signal the beginning of a cultural shift" and there is still more room for improvement as a majority of Americans (52 percent) left vacation time unused in 2017 (down from 54 percent in 2016). Further, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Americans have not taken a vacation in more than a year.

The study also found that 84 percent of Americans say it is important to them to use their time off to travel. Yet workers use less than half of the vacation time they take—just eight days—to travel. It follows that a staggering nine out of 10 Americans say they have not seen enough of their own country.

Barriers to Vacation Time
While Americans rank cost (71 percent), children (45 percent) and pets (39 percent) as the top barriers to travel, these barriers have little impact on actual vacation usage. Respondents who agreed that cost was a top barrier take about the same amount of vacation time as average (53 percent leave time unused, compared to 52 percent overall).

According to the study, it is work-related challenges that continue to have the most influence on Americans’ ability to vacation. Employees who were concerned that taking vacation would make them appear less dedicated or replaceable were dramatically less likely to use all their vacation time (61 percent leave time unused, compared to 52 percent overall). This held true for those who felt their workload was too heavy and no one else could do their job.

Meanwhile, Americans taking all or most of their vacation days to travel reported "dramatically higher rates of happiness than those using little to none of their time for travel."

Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation series surveyed 4,349 U.S. employees who earn time off with economic analysis by Oxford Economics.

See the report for more information: