Americans work hard. And when it’s time to take a break, a much-earned, battery-charging vacation? Far too often, we don’t. That’s not just me talking (although my wife would tell you I fit that picture), the data confirms it: In 2018, Americans did not use 768 million days of paid time off—time that could have been spent kicking back with families or friends or traveling or (god forbid) just not working.
Whether by choice, fear of looking bad or even fear of losing a job (especially when so many feel lucky to have one), what makes this pattern particularly jaw-dropping is a comparison with other countries. By law, employers in France are mandated to provide 30 paid days of vacation each year. In the UK, the number is 28. In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Spain and Sweden, the number is 25 days. Italy, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and New Zealand? They get 20 days of paid vacation (in addition to paid holidays). Some employers, by the way, give more than these minimums.
And in the United States, proudly hailed as the world’s richest country? The average number of legally mandated paid vacation days is…zero.
So all this got me thinking about the value of vacations, especially during this Fourth of July weekend and as vaccination rates have convinced people that they can pack their bags and travel again: What does a good vacation look like? Where will you go this summer? What will you do? And what is the best vacation that you’ve ever had?
As always, I look forward to hearing about your thoughts and experiences—and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other.
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Photo by Gary John Norman via Getty Images.
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