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Do Americans really only take an average of 10 days vacation per year?

Do Americans really only take an average of 10 days vacation per year?

Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Do Americans really only take an average of 10 days vacation per year?

I've just been reading a story on the web about how many Americans don't take their minimal amount of vacation time. I live in England and changed jobs 3 months ago. I used to have 28 days per year, now my vacation allowance is 23 days a year, rising to 25 after two years, and with the option to "buy" 5 extra days per year. I'm guessing that this is well above most of you working in America, and is possibly above average, but not by much, for England.

How on earth do you put up with an average of 12 days, some of which remain untaken? Is it really true that everyone is scared to take their vacation time because if the company can manage without you for 2 weeks, it can do so for the other 50? I have never heard that kind of attitude this side of the Atlantic.

Or are the stories we hear about an average of 12 days vacation time simply not true?

I'm genuinely intrigued by this - I, like many of you, live for my vacations (many of which are spent in the US) and couldn't imagine how I would manage without 5 or so weeks away a year.

Looking forward to your thoughts....

Alan





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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:24 PM
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I work with 2 workaholics who hardly ever take vacation days off for family emergencies, and when it gets known I'm going on vacation they always ask me: again?? The "sell" their vacation days to stay stressed out at work.

I don't worry about being not needed at work - always come back to a mountain of papers on my desk. So far I have 2 main concerns: if my health permits me to travel and if I will save enough for all those days.

Can you tell I was born in Europe
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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On average, Americans take less than 10 days vacation per year.

There's a reason the USA is the most powerful nation in the world economically. We actually work for a living.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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I'm a teacher so I work just 190 days/yr. I travel as much as possible--or as much as my wallet will allow! My husband gets 10 vacation days/yr. plus a few floating holidays and sick days and uses them all.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:36 PM
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Alan, American's generally put in long hours at work and they certainly do not get the vacation time that Europeans do. I am always green with envy when my Italian friends all start winding down their work the last week of July to "prepare" for the month of August vacation.

The only reason my DH and I could take long vacations once in awhile was because we owned our own business. But for weeks before the vacation we would work until 10:00 or 11:00pm in the evening to get all caught up so that we could do so.

You cannot believe the percentage of Americans that only take about 30 minutes for lunch. And I know many that don't take any lunch time at all.

Throw in the average long commute and many people are out of the house at 7:00am and arriving home at 7:00pm. At least in the SF Bay area.

So many Americans always seem to be apologetic if they take the vacation time that is due them.

I think that those here on Fodor's take more vacation than the average person I know, for various reasons.

For example, the owner of the beauty salon I go to is so excited. She and her husband are taking their one vacation a year in two weeks. They will take 10 days.

My stepdaughter is trying to work out going to Hawaii. She "hopes" that they can go for 10 days but due to work may only be able to go for 7 days. And she has a lot of banked time off but she doesn't dare take it.

My SIL was in Rome for 3 1/2 weeks due to family emergencies. He is now
working 6 days a week instead of 5 to pay back his employer for the personal time off. Otherwise he will not be paid for the time he was gone. His other vacations weeks do total 3 weeks but the company shuts down and so everyone has their vacation than whether they want it or not. And the vacation time is one week in November and two weeks in December. No summer vacation trip for them.

Yes, basically it is a sad situation and I always wonder if you Europeans realize how fortunate you are in that regard.

In fact I have a friend who is born and raised in Seville, Spain. She is married to an American. In five years they are selling everything here in California and moving to Seville because her husband can no longer take the mentally of living to work rather working to live and enjoy life.

Enjoy your holidays, lucky you!

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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Mr Gekko, I was expecting a response like yours. With all respect, you really think that the only way to do your job successfully is to do it all the time? If you work all the time, why bother with a travel forum?
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:43 PM
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My husband and I used to be on that hamster wheel at Corporate America where we were given two weeks' vacation, with three after five years - whee!

We got really sick and tired of being told we couldn't take more than a few days in a row, and that we COULD NOT take more than two weeks total.

We both now work for companies that give us three weeks of vacation.
BUT, before we took the jobs, during our interviewing process, we told them that we WOULD be taking at least four to six weeks of vacation per year, and that we would be taking it in one to two or more week increments. (It is unpaid over the three weeks that we get.)

After having six weeks of vacation for the last four years, I will never again work for a company that tells me how much vacation I can take and when I can (or CAN'T) take it.

No one is going to die and the company is not going to collapse if I take two weeks of vacation at once...
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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Also included in this "average" are all Americans, including those on minimum wages.

When we've started, with my husband we both worked in a small place with no benefits at all. There is a law regarding vacation days, and the boss had to offer the minimum, he had no choice. In early 1990s it translated into 2 (yes, only 2!) paid vacation days per year.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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My husband has worked for the same company for 18 years, has 5 weeks paid vacation, 11 holidays and both sick/personal days (I'm not sure how many -- doesn't matter since he doesn't use them anyway, except when once when we had a family crisis). It is almost 7pm and he is still not home...hmmm...wonder where he is...

In our near 26 years together, he has taken a vacation for 10 consecutive business days only once. He can never be away from the office during bookclose, or year-end. And plans must always be made accordingly. My husband's company runs a very, very tight ship but they do come through during a crisis.

During the balance of his year, he travels away from home, ususally leaving on a Sunday afternoon (in order to make a 9am meeting) and returns Friday, if he's lucky. Sure there's comp-time, but taking it is another matter altogether, lol.

I'm not saying that he never takes a vacation or mini-vacation, he does or I think he would go insane or drop dead like many of his colleagues. He needs to carefully plan but always carries over vacation and therefore, never really uses all that he is entitled to.

Btw, that man will get a big hug from me when he walks in the door.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:50 PM
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Interesting thread...

I am a teacher and am lucky enough to have off a week in December, February, and April, as well as the entire summer and several 3-day weekends throughout the year. I love my job immensely, and I also love the many travel opportunities it affords me. Before I switched to teaching, I worked at a newspaper with 2 weeks of vacation per year...not enough for me!

My husband still works at the newspaper, and after 12 years, has just received a 4th week of vacation per year. However, he has to earn his vacation time in hours before he uses it.

We have no children yet, and are planning to travel while we can in the next 2 years or so. Although my husband enjoys traveling and loves vacationing, he doesn't have the immense passion for it that I do...Good thing I'm the one with all that vacation time!

Next week....off to Hawaii to celebrate our 1st anniversary for 2 weeks
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:54 PM
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Good grief Faina, that wasn't a job, that was slavery. We did give our employees two weeks off after one year of employment and three weeks off after three weeks of employment. We had a vacation schedule that they could sign up for at the beginning of the year in order of seniority. The only time we did not allow them to take off was the last week of the year due to closing of the books and other last of the year work that had to be done. We also did things such as give 50% of the employees the Friday off after Thanksgiving and the other 50% chose a day in December that they want off.

We gave a lot of holidays too. Other business friends thought we were to generous but we sure didn't have a big employee turn over. In fact I insisted that everyone take their vacations. A burned out employee does not do a proper job IMHO.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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We accrue personal leave time at various rates according to how long we have worked here - I've been here 15 years and get 11.08 hrs/pay period (every 2 weeks)-we have to use that for both sick and vacation time. Its great for me because I am rarely sick so I can use it all as vacation if I choose but I do save at least 150 hrs in case I do get sick - I think its great but not so great for people with a lot of illness -
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 03:08 PM
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Americans have to work. You don't even get your time off until you've put in your year, and many get combination sick/vacation leave, which is fine if you don't get sick. Yes, people are afraid of losing their jobs, with good reason, there is no company-employee security or loyalty anymore. If married, try to put away for retirement (ha!) at the same time as paying mortgage, 2 cars etc. (because you both have to work and mass transit is not very available in most of the U.S.)and if you have children, do all of this and save for college. Who can afford vacations?
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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I'm kinda wondering if this question is for real as this fact has been discussed, at length, in many places for quite some time.

Anyway....

It really depends on the company one works for and the individual person. Teachers don't work a work a full year. Trial lawyers have full dockets that often don't allow them much time off. Accountants are not able to take time off at certain times of the year. The list goes on. As well, there are people who take time off to do things like paint the house. Go figure.

Most American jobs (not all) start out with 10 days per year, with the ability to carry over to the next year any unused portion. This amount may increase based on years of service. These hours may or may not include those given to be used in the event an employee is ill. Typically, an employee is also granted a certain number of days holiday pay, which varies by company or location. (For instance, I receive 4 weeks vacation per year as I have passed more than 10 years of years of service, plus 10 days sick leave, plus 12 holidays. I also have 2 weeks of Comp Time built up. In total, I have almost 800 hours in the "bank" - much more than the average American.)

Do Americans take their full vacations? It depends. Some do, some don't. Some don't because of finances. Not everyone can afford to travel. Others prefer to take long weekends throughout the year rather than taking one long trip. Still others divide up their vacations: one week to do home improvements, a long weekend to attend cousin Sophie's wedding, another long weekend for that family reunion, and that extra long weekend to go skiing. Just a matter of preference. Still others do prefer to "cash out" their vacation if/when they can to pay bills or save money - they are also the ones that do not usually enjoy traveling.

For me, I usually try to take at least 2 weeks a year. Sometimes that just doesn't always work out. More due to finances than anything else. Traveling can be expensive, and, unlike some European countries, American companies do not give their employees an additional month's salary to vacation with. We need to save that money throughout the year, and one emergency can blow the travel fund completely. Also, for my job anyway, when I am gone there are large parts of my job that cannot just sit and wait for my return, nor can I do it remotely from wherever I would happen to be. That means I would be placing an extra burden on my fellow co-workers to do my job for me. Yes, they do it willingly because they know I would cover for them, but no, I do not want to take advantage because I know they cannot afford to take extended vacations.

It really comes done to simple things: economics and preferences.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Chele, yes that is another thing, at least in Italy anyway, they get that extra salary annually. Wouldn't that be nice? I have some family members that are government employees and they have a lot of time stored away. I don't know why they do not use more of it for vacations. I sure would.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 03:55 PM
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I could never use unused vacation days for a following year. I'd lose them! And We could not use sick days as vacation time. I'm amazed so many of you did or can.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 03:56 PM
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Short answer: yes, the ones that have jobs that actually give them vacation days.

Our trip to Italy this year was the first time in 2 decades DH was actually away from his office for more than a week -- far more often, we've lived from long weekend to long weekend or piggy-backing vacation days onto holiday clusters. And, sadly enough, he still checked his email every day and answered the ones with "potential bombshells" (as he put it).

Meanwhile, my brother has worked for 25 years for a small group as a permanent part-time worker -- he works 35 hrs. a week without benefits (other than SocSec) and when he takes a day off, he doesn't get paid. For reasons I can't go into here, he's lucky to have a job where he can do what he does despite the horrible pay structure -- and he represents a huge segment of our population in similar hour-by-hour situations.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2005, 04:53 PM
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My BIL is American by citizenship but European by all other measures. Moved to the US at age 15 with French as his mother language - raised as a European. There is more than a "pond's difference" between the American work ethic and European norms.

Is neither right/wrong or good/bad but a completely different culture.

Many Americans don't take their full vacation - whether it is 10 days a year or 20 or more.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Yes starsville, a different culture for sure.

And Cassandra, that is terrible. I am sorry to hear that you two haven't take some well deserved longer trips.

To many sad stories IMO.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 05:17 PM
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We have never used sick days for vacation -- to me that would just be tempting fate.
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