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Americans Don’t Take Enough Vacation Time

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Yesterday I wrote, Are You Taking Enough Vacation? My answer to that was “no, I am not!” Well, thankfully, my wife and I have an upcoming two week vacation, and we are very excited about it. :)

While I admit I haven’t been taking enough time awayfrom work, I don’t think I am alone in this. Matt, the author of the personal finance blog To One Million and Beyond, made the comment on my earlier post that people in North America don’t take nearly enough time off, and that many Europeans receive more vacation days from their employers and generally take longer vacations.

I agree. I lived in England for around 2 years, and I have traveled throughout much of Europe. There are actually times when entire towns virtually shut down because most people are on vacation! In fact, over 50% of Italians take a 2-4 week vacation during August! In my opinion, they are doing something right over in Italy. Taking time off is very important for the body, mind, and soul.

A month long vacation is a national tradition in Italy, although lately some stores and towns are staying open throughout August. The biggest reason is financially driven. There is no money to be made when all the stores are closed. I just hope the Italian people are able to easily balance this transition with their vacation time.

On our side of the Pond, Americans tend to have fewer vacation days from their employers (12.4 on average), but Americans don’t even use all their time off! According to this CNN article about vacation time, Americans as a whole give back 1.6 million years worth of vacation time to their employers every year!

Not only is forfeiting vacation time a waste of your own time and money, it is also bad for your health, productivity, and sanity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t plan on giving back any of my vacation time! I’ve already started my vacation countdown, and I am ready to go!


Published or updated March 1, 2011.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt

Nice Post, thanks for the link. Wow that 12.5 day average for vacation time is tiny! I can understand and appreciate the fact that the world gets really busy sometimes. With that said as a manager I might have to ask someone to work late or decline a last minute vacation request if its incredibly busy but those are rare and I don’t like doing it. Vacation time is needed to recharge your batteries, have some fun, and to experience something new or at the least a change from the day to day. I think people have forgotten that.

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2 Ryan

I agree, last minute vacations can be a pain and managers have to do what is best for the company. I was in the military for several years, and while we earned 30 days of vacation every year, due to mission requirements, we were not always able to take leave when we wanted. That was tough sometimes, but I think every military member understands that. Even if they don’t always agree with it. ;)

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3 Stuart

I agree. It is madness not to have worthwhile breaks. I have spent some time in Paris and Brussels and both cities – Paris more so – seem to just shut down for the month of August. For the whole month!!! Where are we going so wrong?

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