In a country that is obsessed with working long hours, it should come as no surprise that unfortunately some Americans are not using all of their vacation days. America is home to a workaholic culture and that renders many Americans incapable of taking advantage of a benefit they’ve earned through that very same hard work: vacation days! Let’s take a look at why the average American leaves 4 unused vacation days on the table at the end of every year.

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Are Americans afraid to take vacations? In a nutshell, yes. Despite the overwhelming evidence that taking a vacation is good for your mental health and work productivity, most Americans let their fear get the better of them. Job security is a luxury that is tough to come by in America which makes many people fear missing more than a day or two of work. Many people don’t feel supported by their bosses, so they could be afraid that their job won’t be waiting for them when they return, or they could be terrified of falling behind in their work, which puts a damper on being able to relax while on vacation. Some also fear judgment from their boss or co-workers and worry about being viewed as one of the less committed employees if they take a vacation. There are those who are even expected to keep working while they’re away, so why bother leaving in the first place? And the few who do take those golden vacation days admit to feeling guilty for requesting time off, even though vacation days are part of every employee’s compensation package. It’s a tough balance in this economy, so many Americans choose their jobs and their livelihood over their own well-being.

There are other factors besides fear that keeps Americans from using their paid time off, such as financial hardship and logistics. Studies show that 65% of Americans don’t have a savings account of more than $1000, let alone funds squirreled away to plan a memorable vacation. This lack of savings leads many people to think that they can’t afford a getaway and so they don’t even bother enjoying any time off from their stressful workplace. Instead of taking ‘staycations’ to rejuvenate and save money, many employees just forgo their paid time off entirely. Then there are those who work in small offices and can’t take time off unless someone else can cover them, which can be a logistical nightmare. If you have kids and need to take vacations in the summer when everyone else is, it might be harder to fit a trip in amongst everyone else’s summer requests for time off, which may not be worth the frustration to some.

If you’re one of the Americans that fall into this vacation-time trap, please start taking your happiness as seriously as your work and check out the non-profit Take Back Your Time to learn more about becoming a happier employee. You earned those vacation days, now go enjoy them! Maybe it’s time to book a flight.


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