Lonely Planet Writer

The average American worker has only taken HALF of their paid vacation time in the last year

If you love travel, packing trips into every eligible vacation day is the perfect way to use that time. But more and more people in the US are struggling to go on vacation and actually get away from work.

More than half of Americans can't unplug from work during their vacations.
More than half of Americans can’t unplug from work during their vacations. Image by Monica & Michael Sweet/Getty Images

According to a survey from job site Glassdoor, the average US employee with paid time off has only taken about 54% of their eligible vacation time in the last 12 months. The findings echo that of a similar report from Project: Time Off, which discovered than more than half of US workers left vacation time unused in 2015

The Glassdoor survey found that only 23% said they took 100% of their eligible time off, and 23% said they took less than 25% of their vacation time. About 9% said they took not vacation or paid time off at all.

Glassdoor first conduction this survey in 2014 and found that the percentage of people who report working while on vacation has increased from 61% three years ago to 66% now. People are less able to check out entirely from work when they are away, as 27% said they are expected to stay up-to-date on work issues and jump in if needed, which is up from 20% in 2014. About 12% of employees are expected to be in contact, deliver work and take part in calls and other necessary meetings while on vacation.

In the last 12 months, 29% of those who vacationed said they were contacted by a co-worker about a work issue, while 25% were contacted by their boss. Even without being contacted, 23% of people said they couldn’t get work off their mind even while trying to enjoy their vacation.

A woman works on her laptop inside of a tent.
Most Americans are not taking their holiday time or working while on vacation. Image by Gandee Vasan/Getty Images

The reasons for remaining work-obsessed, even while travelling, are unsurprising. About 34% said they fear falling behind, 30% said no one else at their workplace can do their job, 22% are just totally devoted to their company and 21% just feel they can’t be disconnected.

“While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits. It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized”, said Carmel Galvin, Glassdoor chief human resources officer in a statement. And to make life easier, Glassdoor even ranked 25 of the top companies for providing vacations and time off

Some companies do recognize the importance of making sure employees can enjoy their holiday time, like FullContact. The contact management solution company actually pays employees an additional $7,500 if they promise to take a tech-free vacation. CEO Bart Lorang said he believes that it helps for employees to unplug.

And if you find that you just don’t have enough hours in the day for planning your next vacation, Kayak has introduced a tool that lets you plan your vacation at your desk and still look like you’re working.