Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation study has found that Americans took six fewer vacation days (less than 12 days) than the global average in 2021, leaving the majority feeling vacation deprived (59%) and more burned out than ever (72%).
Surveying more than 14,500 working adults across 16 countries, the 2022 report also sheds light on the reality that pandemic-era flexible work arrangements can make it more difficult to unplug (54%), blurring the boundaries between time on and off the clock.
While many Americans made the best of this new-found flexibility by taking a workcation (traveling to a new destination and working remotely), most don’t consider these to be “true” vacations (61%). Furthermore, even as most Americans (78%) enjoy feeling “unproductive” during their vacations, half bring along their work laptops and 41% frequently join Zoom calls while out of office.
“Despite the nearly universal belief that regular vacations are critical to our health and well-being, the research shows we struggle to fully unplug from work,” said Christie Hudson, senior PR manager, Expedia. “Instead, we try and do it all—checking email from the pool and taking work calls while out of office. This study is a reminder that vacations should be a time to rest, recharge and prioritize the things that really matter. After all, work can wait.”
This year is promising to be the year Americans take back control of how they find joy during vacations and give themselves permission to PTO. In fact, working adults in the U.S. vowed to take an average of 14 days this year—almost three days more than they took in 2021—and nearly all (92%) agree that regular vacations are important for general health and well-being. About 44% of Americans have already booked a trip to look forward to and, based on 2021 habits, they are more likely than most other regions around the world to splurge on upgrades such as choosing a bigger room or flying first class, stopping at multiple destinations during a single trip or booking back-up trips.
Breaking bad vacation habits
From reconnecting with loved ones to easing burnout, research consistently underscores the benefits of vacation. However, more than a few bad habits are preventing Americans from having the fulfilling travel experiences they deserve—and it’s time to break them.
Not setting boundaries: 63% of Americans admitted to including their cell phone number in their out-of-office reply for their coworkers or clients, inviting interruptions during valuable time off. Breaking the habit of being easily available, when possible, ensures vacation time stays sacred.
Leaving vacation days behind: Americans took the least amount of vacation days globally in 2021, even though more workers in the U.S. received unlimited vacation days (14%) than those in other countries (8%).
Hustling without breaks: 49% of Americans admitted to feeling guilty when they don’t do anything “productive” while on vacation. About 51% used some of their time off doing a side hustle and, on average, Americans used three vacation days last year to take care of a sick family member, go to a doctor appointment or run errands.
Asking permission to take time off: 52% of Americans feel guilty having coworkers cover their work and 44% feel the need to apologize or make excuses for taking time off, despite most agreeing their colleagues are supportive of them using their vacation time (80%).