How to Use All Your Vacation Days

I have good news and bad news. The good news: On average, Americans are earning more days off work than in previous years. The bad news: We aren’t taking those days off. More than half (55%) of American workers report not using all their days off—totaling 768 million unused vacation days, up 9% from 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. What’s more, 236 million of those days were forfeited completely—equaling $65.5 billion in lost benefits and an individual average of $571 in donated work time. 

Most employers offer time off as a benefit to their employees, a gift thanking us for our hard work. And, as dedicated as we all are to our jobs, few American workers intend to donate that time back. We simply get busy in life and forget to schedule our vacation time. 

But taking time away from work is extremely important. American workers report vacation time helps reduce stress and avoid burnout, making us better employees in the long term. We also see strengthened relationships with our family and friends when we take vacations together. And we get to experience new things when we vacation to new places. The benefits of vacations are well worth the effort of planning them.

The solution to this growing problem of unused vacation days is not complicated. Sit down early in the year and plan when you’re going to take your vacation days. Here’s how:

  1. Determine how many vacation days you have for 2020. 
  2. Create a calendar and share it with family or friends, so you can coordinate your vacation days. If it’s applicable, add the days the kids are out of school.
  3. Choose two or three date options for possible vacations.
  4. Discuss together where you might like to travel this year. 
  5. Send your date options and list of destinations to your travel agent.

You can also use this Vacation Planning Tool ( to make coordinating and tracking your vacation days even easier.

Whatever method you choose, prioritize planning your vacation days early in the year. Remember, time is the one truly limited resource you have. Spend the days you have creating memories with the people you care about. You won’t regret it.


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