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Tom Purcell: Americans too worried to vacation |

Tom Purcell: Americans too worried to vacation


“Here we are in peak vacation season, but I’m afraid to take my paid vacation time off!”

“Regrettably, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Travel Association, more than half of American workers aren’t using all of their vacation time. In its Project: Time Off report, the association found that nearly a quarter of Americans haven’t had a vacation in the past year — some 12 percent haven’t had a vacation in three years!”

“You got that right. While some are enjoying fun in the sun, I’m logging long hours at the office to make sure the boss knows I’m doing a good job.”

“You’re not alone there, either. According to, the association found that 61 percent of employees surveyed said they feared appearing replaceable to their bosses, while 56 percent said they can’t take a break because there is too much work on their plate. In the 1980s and 1990s, Americans averaged 20 days of vacation a year, now it’s down to 17 days a year.”

“As bad as I am about taking vacation, the younger people in my office are even worse. They hardly take time off.”

“It’s funny you say that, because the association found that older generations are more willing to use their vacation time than younger generations. Baby boomers take almost 20 days off a year, whereas millennials, often maligned as lazy, take fewer than 15 days of vacation each year. According to CNBC, this is partly because millennials have fewer vacation days, but also because they ‘are preoccupied by a host of worries, including heavy debt loads and career fulfillment.’”

“Sometimes I wish I lived in Europe. Those cats know how to enjoy paid time off work!”

“That is true. According to CBS News, workers in France are guaranteed at least five weeks of paid vacation, as well as a dozen public holidays and a maximum 35-hour work week. Such policies may be why France’s economy is barely growing and why unemployment is hovering around 9 percent, but the French surely know how to vacation. Besides, many Americans prefer to work because it makes us happy.”

“It does?”

“Sure! According to a report by the Journal of Happiness Studies, Americans believe hard work is associated with success. The harder we work and the more successful we become, the happier we become.”

“With all due respect, I’d be happy with more leisure time. When I’ve taken vacations in the past, it really helped me recharge my batteries.”

“You speak the truth. The association found that people who enjoy true breaks are more creative and productive when they return to work.”

“Maybe there should be a law forcing us to take time off!”

“An interesting point. According to Forbes, the United States is the world’s only advanced economy that does not require employers to provide paid time off. Unlike France, I suppose, we prefer that free individuals negotiate their vacation time with their employers.”

“Whatever the case, my wife and I are not taking enough time off this year. It’s not just that we worry someone else may take our jobs. We also feel oddly guilty whenever we’re not working hard — as though we’d be breaking an unwritten law.”

“You and the rest of America have to get beyond such silly guilt. Vacation is good for you!”

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood!” Visit him on the web at .

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