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Americans Would Rather Work Than Travel

Need a vacation?

You’d be hard pressed to find any American workers who would not nod affirmatively, vigorously, to that query. So you might assume that anyone with employer-paid vacation time would take full advantage of that time off. To take a vacation.

You’d be mistaken.

As a new Bankrate study shows, more than half of American workers choose not to use all the paid vacation days they’re entitled to. Only 47 percent of those surveyed said they planned to use all their allotted vacation days in 2016, versus 52 percent who planned to forego at least some of their earned vacation days.

The survey pointed up some striking generational and regional differences. While 53 percent of Gen-X workers are likely to use all their vacation time, only 43 percent of baby boomers and 44 percent of Millennials are likely to do so.

Regionally, 60 percent of Northeasterners will use all their vacation time, compared with just 39 percent of Southerners, 47 percent of Midwesterners, and 49 percent of those in the West.

So, what accounts for American workers’ reluctance to take a well-deserved breather? A number of factors come to mind. The Protestant work ethic. Job-loss fears in an uncertain economy. The need to earn extra money (assuming compensation for unused vacation days). The demands of high-stress jobs. Peer pressure.

The study results tell a somewhat different story. The most-cited reason for deferring vacation among survey respondents was the desire to save up time to be used next year. Of course, if workers actually followed through on that strategy, they’d eventually match their vacation usage with their vacation availability. And that’s not what’s happening.

Whatever the real reasons might be, the fact remains that Americans aren’t vacationing nearly as much as they could.

That’s not good for workers. It’s probably not good for their employers either, as stressed employees are likely to be less productive. And it’s not good for the travel industry, which loses the revenues that would be generated by millions of foregone trips.

C’mon Americans, just chill!

Reader Reality Check

What’s your excuse for not using all your vacation time?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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