We're huge fans of taking vacations here at Lonely Planet, so we were surprised to learn that almost 44 million workers in the US report having seven or more paid vacation days left to use this year.

A happy man outside an office building
Almost 44 million US workers report having seven or more paid vacation days left to use this year © Westend61/Getty Images

According to the 2019 Priceline Work-Life Balance Report, 55% of those surveyed report having more than ten paid vacation days available to them each year, compared with workers in Europe, who typically enjoy a minimum of 20 annual paid vacation days. More than half of Americans (53%) leave paid vacation days unused each year, and a third reported leaving at least half of their days unused. "Work guilt" is the reason cited by 18%, with the same percentage reporting that they are simply too busy to go on vacation. 

Woman outdoors on her mobile phone by the Eiffel Tower.
Some workers feel pressure from employers to be available while on a break © Sam Edwards/Getty Images

When the employees actually leave the office to go on vacation, many say that work follows them. Nearly one in three (29%) say that their company, or supervisor, expects them to be “available” while on break, while 38% report that they feel pressure to check email or voicemail while away. They may be on vacation, but 15% of workers say that they end up working during some portion of every holiday they take.

A woman in a bikini on a laptop by the pool
Many workers feel presure to check mails on vacation © Monica & Michael Sweet/Getty Images

Nearly half of Generation Z workers (47%) reported feeling the most pressure to check email and voicemail while on vacation, although those pressures diminish with age. Four in ten millennials report feeling the same pressure, as do a third (34%) of Generation X workers. Baby Boomers, at 24%, feel the least pressure. More than six in ten respondents said that they would wait a minimum of six months before feeling comfortable enough to take a vacation of any appreciable length, while 21% of respondents would wait at least an entire year.

A woman with her hand in her heads in an office of other people
"Work guilt" is the reason cited by 18% for not taking vacations © Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

“The respondents in this study report feeling pressure to work while they’re on break," said Liz Dente, chief people officer at Priceline. “They shouldn’t. Instead, their company should feel pressure to show employees that they’re valued, by making it clear that ‘out of office’ means fully disconnected. At Priceline we give our employees an extra bonus every year, specifically to use on travel. Not just because we’re a travel company, but because our employees are happier and more productive when they have time to recharge.”

Further information on Priceline can be found here.

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