America has a growing “vacation deprivation” problem: American workers left 768 million unused vacation days on the table in 2018, up 9% from the previous year. And 236 million of those days were forfeited completely, totaling more than $65 billion in lost benefits.
To address this issue and encourage Americans to map their time off and travel plans for the rest of the year, thousands of travel organizations around the country are celebrating National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD) on January 28 with tips, planning resources, destination ideas, and other incentives for Americans to get the most out of their earned time off.
Data shows planning ahead is crucial—not just for using all of your time off, but for using it well. Most American workers (83%) want to use their time off to travel, but only slightly more than half of families take the crucial step of sitting down to plan their vacations.
That’s why U.S. Travel has developed an interactive Vacation Planning Tool to help Americans get a jump on planning. By entering their earned number of days off, users can plot out their trips or vacations for the year, export that to their work or personal calendar, and share with their family and co-workers.
“As a CEO, not only does it not bother me to see an ‘out of office’ email—I encourage my colleagues to include a note on how they’re spending their vacation,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “Time off is essential to a healthy work environment because it gives us a chance to recharge and reconnect with family and friends, as well as see more of our beautiful, diverse country. Workers who take the time to plan ahead bring more and better energy to the workplace.”
American workers who fail to plan their vacation and travel sacrifice not only their hard-earned time off, but also the numerous personal and professional benefits achieved through vacation. Research points to planners having an advantage over non-planners in job performance and physical health and well-being. Research also shows a connection between planning and stronger personal relationships with friends and family.
Americans took an average of 17.4 days off in 2018—higher than the previous year (17.2), but well off the average of 20.3 days taken between 1978 and 2000. Many companies and organizations are taking notice of the workplace payoff that vacations can have: they’re introducing sabbatical and other work-life balance programs that both participants and organizations say have shown results—including stronger engagement, productivity and profits.
There are also economic benefits of increased travel that go beyond the personal and professional. If American workers used their time off to travel and see America, more than $151 billion in additional travel spending could be added to the U.S. economy, creating an additional two million jobs.