Happy Fourth of July! The Most Patriotic Way to Celebrate: Catching Up on Work?

Americans Take the Least Vacation Days in the World—and Almost Half Love It!

As the Fourth of July approaches, while you’re enjoying fireworks and barbecues, remember: the most patriotic way to spend it might just be at your computer, catching up on work. Why? Because Americans are workaholics who rarely take a break, and our vacation habits prove it!

A recent report from Expedia reveals that Americans take fewer vacation days than any other country in the world. On average, Americans get 12 vacation days a year, and 53% of us don’t use them all. Despite feeling like we don’t step away enough, two-thirds of Americans say that life is “too busy to plan or go on vacation.”

When comparing our vacation habits to other countries, Japan, which gets fewer paid days off at 11, manages to take all their days and prefer long weekends. Meanwhile, Americans tend to take vacation days in chunks. Only 5% of us take at least one day off a month compared to 32% of Japanese people.

And who takes the most vacation days? The French, with an average of 29 days off a year! That’s two-and-a-half times more than Americans. Yet, 65% of Americans think they deserve more time off, compared to 69% of French people. Over the course of their careers, the average American will let 45 vacation days go unused.

Why Aren’t Americans Taking Their Vacation Days?

It’s incredible to think about how often we hear from older generations that Americans are lazy. Yet, here we are, leading the world in unused vacation days! We get 12 vacation days a year, and half of us don’t use them. Meanwhile, the French are on vacation almost a month every year, and they still think it’s not enough! Next time someone calls Americans lazy, remind them we’re the pizza-denying heroes of the workforce.

Why Are You Not Taking Time Off?

We asked our listeners why they aren’t taking their vacation days. Here are some of their responses:

  • Guilt

    “I feel guilty leaving my team short-handed, especially during busy seasons. It’s hard to justify a break when the workload is so high.” – Sarah from Dedham

    via GIPHY

  • Too much work

    “My workload is too high, and no one else can cover for me. If I take time off, I’ll come back to a mountain of work.” – Mike from Natick

    via GIPHY

  • No Money

    “I don’t have the money to go anywhere, so I end up just working through my vacation days. It feels pointless to take time off just to stay home.” – Lisa from Norwood

    via GIPHY

  • Boss discourages it

    “My boss doesn’t encourage taking time off. There’s always an underlying pressure to stay on top of things, even during vacations.” – Dave from Braintree

    via GIPHY

  • I don't WANT TO!!!

    “I actually love my job and prefer working. Taking time off makes me feel like I’m missing out on important developments.” – Karen from Westwood

    via GIPHY

  • Vacations are too stressful

    “Planning a vacation is too stressful. The idea of organizing everything just makes me want to stay at work where it’s predictable.” – Sam from Canton

    via GIPHY

  • Freelancer

    “I’m a freelancer, so no work means no pay. I can’t afford to take time off without it impacting my income.” – Rachel from Walpole


    via GIPHY

  • Nothing to do

    “I don’t want to use vacation days for staying at home. If I’m going to take time off, I want it to be for something special.” – Joe from Wellesley

    via GIPHY

  • Final Thoughts

    So this Fourth of July, maybe skip the work emails and enjoy the fireworks. Or at least take a break from being “lazy” long enough to prove them wrong with some good old American overachievement. Let’s aim to use those vacation days, even if it means planning long weekends like our Japanese friends. After all, a well-rested worker is a more productive worker.

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