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Are Americans really using more vacation time?

A new study found that American workers used an average of 17.2 days of vacation in 2017, marking the highest level for vacation usage since 2010. 

The research from Project: Time Off showed an increase of .4 vacation days from 2016, which was over a full day more than the low of 16 days in 2014. While it’s a good start, 52 percent of Americans still left vacation time unused last year.  

The State of American Vacation 2018 survey also found that an astounding 24 percent of Americans have not taken a vacation in more than a year. While 84 percent of Americans say it is important to travel during vacation, less than half of the vacation time they take is used to hit the road.  

Last year, Americans accumulated 705 million unused days, up from 662 million days unused in 2016. Despite Americans taking more vacation, the increase in unused days is attributed to employees earning more time off. The study found that unused vacation time is a $255 billion missed economic opportunity that has the potential to create 1.9 million jobs.  

“While Americans are now using more vacation time, the benefits aren’t being fully realized because most workers are using less than half of their time off for travel,” Project: Time Off vice president Katie Denis said in a statement. “Simple and avoidable barriers to travel end up costing American workers in the long term. When we forgo travel, we miss out on defining moments, experiences and memories, and end up costing our economy, too.”  

While Americans rank cost, children, and pets as the top barriers to travel, the biggest issue remains work-related challenges. Travelers don’t want to appear less dedicated, have too heavy of a workload when they return or say no one else could do their job, so they leave vacation time unused more than other Americans.  

On the bright side, those who use all or most of their vacation days to travel report dramatically higher rates of happiness than those using little to none of their time for travel.  


(TravelPulse is a leading travel authority on the web, providing consumer travel news and insider tips and advice for an ever-changing travel world. Read more stories at

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