Vacation Deprivation


A 2011 Expedia survey about time off from work concluded that Americans are “vacation deprived.” Here are the results, comparing vacation time given and taken among various countries:

Vacation deprived indeed! In half of the countries surveyed, the average worker received more than twice the number of days off than we do in America. In a Time article about European vacation policy, economist John Schmitt said, “The U.S. is the only [industrialized] country in the world that does not have statutory requirements on employers to provide paid holiday, paid parental leave or paid sick days. We are enormous outliers.”

But before we shake our fists at our national lot, we have to own up to the fact that even with our paltry supply of vacation, last year on average we left two days of vacation unused. Sixteen hours when we could have been at the beach, in the mountains, or under a blanket, we chose the office instead.

What gives?

Expedia asked participants why they don’t use all their vacation time. 15% of Americans said “they don’t schedule far enough in advance,” while another 15% simply said, “Work is my life.”

“Vacation deprivation” isn’t just a fabricated condition to help Expedia sell more plane tickets. Vacation is linked to improved relationships with coworkers and enhanced quality of work. It grants us perspective and motivation to achieve our goals.  And it may even make us live longer.

So why is it so hard for us to take a break?

–Tommy Grimm

(Image by Flickr user Via Tsuji/via Creative Commons)

Read more on the importance of vacation

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About Tommy Grimm

I have an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and currently work as a Wellness Advocate with Spirited Life. Born and raised in the heartland of America, I'm a certified Hoosier who loves basketball. I've recently discovered the wonder of beets, and I take guilty pleasure in gas station candy, particularly circus peanuts and spice drops.

5 thoughts on “Vacation Deprivation

  1. One thing that holds me back from vacations is the fear of having to cram a whole week’s worth of work into just a few days. I’m beginning to discover that if time away doesn’t include Sunday, the stress of piling the worship and sermon preparation into the shorter timespan unravels whatever benefits I got from vacation. I think finding creative ways to be present on Sundays without the typical pressures of preaching or leading worship could help preachers take shorter, mid-week breaks.

  2. John, that makes a lot of sense. Most people in the corporate world wouldn’t take a vacation days before the occasional presentation to a wide audience, and that’s every week for most pastors.

    I like your suggestion about finding creative ways to decrease Sunday responsibilities for pastors returning from vacation. Are you familiar with any resources? Sounds like this could be a great follow-up post.

    • Tommy, the first idea that comes to mind is presenting the Word in a different way, whether through a lay speaker, a skit or dramatic presentation, or something else. I think it was Taylor Burton-Edwards who suggested the possibility of doing lectio divina instead of a sermon one Sunday. I’m not sure if you could do that as effectively with a large congregation but it might work well with a smaller group. Also, doing something from Godly Play with the “I wonder” statements would be an interesting twist as well.

      • John, those are great ideas. They seem like creative approaches that might transform the pastor’s absence from a weakness to a strength, from a “second-rate worship service” (in the minds of some) to something special to be excited about. Thanks for your contributions!

  3. For many Americans it is hard to take a break when there all people always willing to work harder, longer hours. Even though studies show productivity increases with time off, American management hasn’t been very forthcoming in allowing employees extra time.

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