America, We Need To Talk: Take a Vacation

The U.S.A. is not taking vacations.

The average American vacation is just 4.3 days long.
Just 14% of our vacations last seven days or more. Photo:Doug Wheller (Flickr Creative Commons)
America, We Need To Talk: Take a Vacation
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America, We Need To Talk: Take a Vacation

Everyone counts down the days to vacation, right? Well not in seems we’d rather keep working.

Yes, despite all the data that time off makes you happier, healthier and MORE productive, a majority of americans - some 57percent had unused vacation time at the end of 2011, and most of them left an average of 11 days on the table.

Meanwhile, profits per-employee are at a 10 year high. What if we just cut into those corporate profits by taking a day we’ve earned here and there?

The rest of the world seems to get it: The British mandate 28 paid days off! France and Greece 25 days! Even the Chinese - the country we fear is manically running us into the ground economically - they give workers 10 days off a year.

So, why aren’t Americans taking vacation? Don’t we know that all the problems that plague us as a nation - obesity, depression, anxiety, can just be cured by a few days off?

We’ll consider America’s Vacation Deficit disorder - and we want to hear from you. 



Email from Clay

I'm getting sick and tired of everyone jumping on the "leisure" bandwagon.

Every day on NPR, I have to sit through Faith Middleton talking about new barbecue recipes, fabulous cocktail recipes and "The Hamptons".

We should be spending LESS time sitting on beaches getting drunk, and more time doing things that matter.

America saved Europe from Hitler and Stalin. We created Oxfam and ChildFund and Habitat for Humanity. We created the United Nations and the Gates Foundation. We give more to charity than any country.

I prefer to spend my free time raising money for Foodshare, cleaning up litter, and writing books that will change people's lives (and put a few dollars in my retirement account). Stop telling me that Americans need to spend MORE time indulging themselves.

Email from Larry

Great show. I try hard to balance work and family life. There is a competitiveness in the workplace around how hard and how much people work and how much they do for the company. I feel bad about taking time off because I don't want to seem like I'm letting the team or the company down. In short, if everyone else isn't taking time off, I can't either because I don't want to be seen as a slacker.

Email from Bev

I have two groups of women that I hang with. We make a point of getting together 1 day a month (each group) and it is therapy time. We laugh and cry together and each of us leaves with a lighter load than we walked in with.

Email from Lauren

Salaried employee
2 weeks of paid vacation / year
1 week must be taken during an annual company shutdown I don't have time for a nice, long vacation American corporations need a culture shift.