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Thread: Vacation or Holiday, Do American’s need to get away?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.

    Vacation or Holiday, Do American’s need to get away?

    I read a recent book on the art of vacationing and the author, who spent a month in Italy, noted something sad. A tour guide at an old church ask him how long they are in Italy for, and when he responded a month, the guide was surprised and noted that for American’s it is almost always a week, and on occasion, maybe two, but a month was unusual. On the other hand, it was not all that uncommon for people from other parts of the world including Australia, Europe, and even Asia to take a month or two vacation.

    A quick Google search of “Do Americans take enough vacation” brings back a range of websites but a common theme… no, we don’t. Often times at our jobs, we are given two weeks of paid vacation, but how many actually ask for more than that, even if it is unpaid?

    I personally think that is where American’s are different than the rest of the world. We spend so much on our day to day lifestyles with fancy gadgets, nice cars, and big houses, and we go so far into debt, that we often don’t have the money available to take unpaid time off from work.

    This is something that the wife and I have been talking about for quite some time now. In the past, we have used up all of our vacation time just going up to visit my family in the UP over several weekends a year. This year, we are making two trips. One in the summer and one in the winter, both around a long holiday weekend so not to use our time off. In the next few years, we want to progress into the idea of taking a month long vacation where we would actually rent a house for a month, but we need to get debt free before we can accomplish that.

    Why is it that other countries have a different mind frame than the US in terms of vacationing, or as they call it, going on Holiday? Do you take more time off than just your paid vacation time (in one lump sum?) Being that this is a global forum board, I would be interested in knowing what people overseas think about this topic. There have been several cyburbians who have traveled the world, and one who even stopped into say hi to Stan & Stan a few years ago. But she was from New Zeeland, not New Jersey.

    What say you?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  2. #2
    Sep 2011
    newark nj
    I definitely think that people in the US could use some more vacation time. But, I also say that because I have commitments outside of the US.

    90% of my family lives in Spain and France and my parents have a vacation home in Spain. As they grow older I'll need to take a greater part of the responsibility of taking care of it, eventually it becomes mine entirely. The house needs 2-4 weeks a year just to air it out and do regular maintenance.

    My fiance on the other hand has a similar issue where she'll be inheriting a log cabin in Nova Scotia. And beyond that, we have the travel bug and want to go to all sorts of places. So I find myself in a spot where paid or unpaid I'll need to take ~1 month a year off, and more if possible.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    U.S. is a lot less socialist than most of the other 'wealthy' countries. Our economy drives our ability to get the days off that others get because we focus so much on productivity instead of quality of life.

    I know that if I tried to take off an extra few weeks one summer I would screw up the productivity of my employer as everyone here is assigned a specific set of tasks and we have little duplication. It would be frowned upon and probably impact advancement, salary, or both.

    I also have a vacation house that I purchased. I too am finding that keeping it impacts my ability to do other things as it does need maintenance. With the passing on of my brother, my sister moving to California and the aging of my parents it is increasingly falling more and more on me to do everything. The place does not get used anywhere near what I had expected it to, and when I do use it, I am often stuck spending the majority of my time doing chores. With so little vacation time and the need to remain prductive at work, it is a mess trying to keep things balanced. In fact on July 1 I handed my agency back vacation that I did not use because I am constantly wanting to do better at my job and that means spending more time at it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Another factor is the way in which vacation time is earned and spent in the US. In many European countries, entire businesses or organizations may close down for a month. While this forces employees to take their holiday at a time they may not have planned on, the advantage is that the entire public knows that the place is closed and so no one is expecting them to get work done. One of the major reasons many Americans cite for not taking more time is fear of work piling up for them when they return. Personally, I would love that.

    My work uses a Paid Time Off system whereby every week we “earn” a certain amount of PTO each week. Aside from major holidays, this time can be used for illness, personal days, vacation, whatever, Its all just called PTO. We also get a floating “personal holiday” each year which I took for my birthday (my favorite personal holiday). I like this system and I do work to take my allotted time off each year. This summer I took 2 weeks and went to Belize with the family and just got back from three days in California (unpleasant family business, but still, I was able to do it). And I still have another 30 hours of PTO with more piling up each week.

    Family definitely helps me keep the issue of taking enough vacation in check. Despite the pressure one feels to be there for the office, the kids are not going to stay young forever and its near impossible to look at them and tell them you aren’t going to take the time you earned to be with them.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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