Do you take more than one vacation a year? If not, it’s time to plan. 

Europeans take their vacations seriously. France, Denmark, and Sweden’s employees receive a minimum of 25 paid days off each year, while in the United Kingdom workers get at least 28 days of paid vacation time.*

How many days of paid vacation time are workers in the United States required to receive? None – although fortunately many American companies give their employees at least some paid time off.*

However, many workers in the United States are reluctant to take their time off or prefer to take “working vacations,” splitting their attention between work duties and leisure.  Why?  The culture of the organization, fear of being perceived as “not dedicated”, deadlines, etc.

According to Project: Time Off, a coalition of travel industry organizations, 52% of Americans left vacation time on the table in 2017, with a total of 705 million unused vacation days, more than 200 million of which were forfeited. That means in 2017, American employees essentially donated an average of $561 in work time each to their employers.  How does this help YOU?

The benefit of taking a true vacation, not a “working” vacation, has positive impacts to YOU and everyone and everything YOU come in contact with, including your employer. 

Why should we prioritize vacation time? Consider these three reasons:

  • It’s good for your heart. The oft cited, decades-long Framingham Heart Study found that men who skipped vacations for several years had a 30% higher risk of having a heart attack than men who took regular vacations. And women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were more than eight times more likely to have a heart attack than women who took two vacations per year.**
  • It helps you sleep better. Researcher Mark Rosekind found that after two or three days on vacation, people realized longer quality sleep and better “reaction times,” effects that lasted even after they returned home.†
  • It may result in better overall work benefits. Remember those employees who forfeited more than 200 million work days? Project: Time Off found that they were less likely to get promoted within the last year or receive a raise or a bonus within the last three years than their colleagues who enjoyed their paid time off.

The moral of the story? Perhaps we should take a cue from our European counterparts. R&R could lead to better health and a better overall work experience. Don’t leave time on the table; it’s one thing you can’t recover.

*Source: CNN, January 30, 2018

**Source: Project: Time Off

†Source: New York Times

Take our Vacation Poll!


Written by:  Carol Swanson, a health & wellbeing writer located in Rhode Island

Carol can be reached