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Time for a Trip? More Than a Third of Americans Haven’t Taken a Vacation in 2 Years

By Katherine LaGrave

06.28.19

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Swimming off of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which is known for its clear waters and coral reefs.

Photo by Gail Johnson/Shutterstock.com

Swimming off of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which is known for its clear waters and coral reefs.

A new survey shows that U.S. workers aren’t using their time off to travel.

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When it comes to taking vacations, Americans are sorely lacking. According to Allianz Global’s 11th annual “Vacation Confidence Index” survey, 36 percent of Americans took their last vacation more than two years ago, and more than half (at 51 percent) haven’t taken a trip in a full year. And many aren’t planning on one anytime soon either: When asked if they’d take a summer vacation this year, just 42 percent of the survey’s respondents said they would, which is the lowest percentage since 2013.

Allianz, which offers travel insurance, found that survey respondents’ decisions to not take a vacation largely came down to financials: 44 percent of respondents said they didn’t have the money for a vacation, while 19 percent said they didn’t want to spend money on travel, period. When citing other reasons they wouldn't go on vacation, respondents included “personal obligations outside of work” (20 percent), an unwillingness to take time off from work (12 percent), and the stress and responsibility of having to plan a vacation in the first place (10 percent). 

And it’s not just that Americans aren’t going on a vacation, which the survey defines as a “leisure trip of at least a week to a destination that is 100 miles or more from home.” Allianz also found that 41 percent of American workers were taking less than half of their allotted vacation days. 

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The sample size of this survey—1,005 Americans, aged 18 and up—may be small, but it’s hard to dismiss, given its consistency with other findings. In 2018, a study from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative found that U.S. employees were using less than half of their vacation days to travel, which tallied up to around eight days, on average. Another 2018 study, from Northstar Research Partners, questioned 11,144 employed adults from 19 countries about work-life balance and found that in 2018, U.S. workers took the fewest average number of vacation days of the countries surveyed, reports AFAR’s Michelle Baran.

Although financial, professional, and personal obligations may feel like they’re piling up, taking time for vacation is important. Don’t believe us? AFAR CEO Greg Sullivan noted findings from a survey of HR managers that the Society for Human Resources Management conducted. It revealed that more than three quarters of the HR managers questioned said that employees who use their vacation time are more productive than those who don’t. We’re packing our bags right now.

>>Next: 10 Ways to Make a Weekend Getaway Feel Like a Vacation

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