Americans Have Trouble Vacationing
When we get away, we bring our work with us
By Emily Johnson
Who wouldn’t enjoy freeing themselves from a work week to go on vacation? Six in ten Americans agree that it is important for people to go on vacation annually. Despite this large majority, there has been a mere three percent decrease in people who are confident that they will take a vacation this year.
This is called the Vacation Deficit, the percentage of Americans who think that a vacation is important but will not take one.
Over the last eight years, the United States has seen quite a change in the national population’s vacation spending. With large drops in 2010 and 2011 and slight drops in 2013 and 2015, it is predicted that Americans will spend more money on vacations this year. That's a good sign, say psychologists who counsel over worked clients who need a break from their jobs but sometimes refuse to take one.
Spending is Up
Even with fewer Americans confident that they’ll travel, the average American will spend $1798 on a vacation this summer, which is up from last year’s $1621, according to findings from the annual Vacation Confidence Index from Allianz Global Assistance USA.
One could pinpoint the increase as a response of the nation’s lower unemployment rate and higher household spending. Despite any increase in vacation spending, it is still largely a problem for the country.
With work so ingrained in the fibers of the American population and play so often ignored, more individuals should be confident that they will take time off from hectic schedules to vacation this year.
Adrienne Solari, a senior clinical research associate, works from her house in Burlington, Massachusetts, throughout the year. The full-time working parent owns a summer house on Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine, that she visits frequently during the summer, particularly on weekends. Even though she has a vacation home, she does not find herself tuning out work.
“Even when I’m here, I’m not totally vacationing. I bring work here,” Solari says. Solari often travels for her job, so traveling for her does not necessarily mean down-time anymore, as the two have become confluent. We are all too familiar with the routine--your cellphone, a constant companion, bringing in email from friends AND from your boss.
"It's difficult to stop when you're going at full-pace, and then knowing in the back of my mind the work I must get done later, I often choose just to bring my work with me," she added. This seems to be a growing trend in the United States, with many individuals unable to leave work behind even just for a weekend.
A full 68 percent of the chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey said they are in touch with the office at least once a week while on summer vacation.
That’s a 20 percent increase from a similar survey just three years ago.
Contractually Americans have the opportunity to take advantage of their vacation time, but it seems to be dropping as a priority to most. Americans are unable to separate work and vacation and tend to take their work with them on their trip - a vacation habit that seems to be quite common.
Taking Away the Cellphones
Some people are striking back and using their gadgets as the first weapon. When Kate Hartshorne, a nurse in Massachusetts, and her family joined a group of teens, uncles and aunts on a family vacation to Pennsylvania's Endless mountains, she set a policy. She asked all of the children to surrender their cellphones for a week.
She also asked adults not to use their phones, and most agreed. "And not one complaint," Cosme remarked, noticing that the kids played card games, board games and swam in the lake, all without having to share anything on Facebook.
Editor Max Hartshorne of South Deerfield was along for the trip, and he too found some solace in not using his phone when family was around, confining his work hours to a few hours in the evening when he'd check email on his laptop. "I had more fun without it, and no one missed much of anything," he remarked.
Don't Let Your Vacation Go Unused
With low gas prices and cheaper travel opportunities, it could not be a better time for Americans to travel. We can only hope that Americans take advantage of the improving economy by taking a break and no longer letting their vacation time go unused. What will it take to instill a European vision to American workers---that yes, you deserve five paid weeks, all of August by the sea, and enough of a break so they will return to the office in September full of vitality and excitement about their jobs?
Well maybe the place to start is by reading travel stories on GoNOMAD and other travel sites, and then getting excited about a new destination.
Meanwhile, get that travel insurance policy before taking off to remove some of the risk from the trip.
Thanks to our partner Allianz for sponsoring this post, providing travel coverage for the unexpected. GoNOMAD Travel received financial compensation from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) as part of a broader marketing package but all opinions are our own.
Emily Johnson is a journalist from Burlington, Mass who has lived in Seville, Spain, and Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, and hopes to continue her travels around the world.