Survey Says: Half of Americans Take No Summer Vacation Time

Family Vacations | Family Road Trips
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An annual summer vacation was once a treasured part of the middle-class lifestyle, but is it becoming a thing of the past? A recent survey sponsored by the travel intelligence site Skift shows that almost half of Americans (48.4%) took little or no vacation days in summer 2016.

Another study by the U.S. Travel Association's Project Time Off revealed that 54% of American employees ended 2016 with unused time off, collectively sacrificing 662 million vacation days.

This is part of a disturbing trend that suggests the erosion of the summer vacation.

In 2015, a Skift survey asked over 2,000 people what they planned to do over the summer. More than six in 10 said that they had no plans because they couldn’t afford a vacation (31.3%) or they were too busy (30.2%). When Skift asked a similar question in 2014, more than half (52.9%) of respondents said that they had either taken no vacation (42.8%) or fewer than three days (10.1%). Only a quarter of those polled (26.5%) took more than a week off.

Rise of the Fake-ation

A 2015 study from Alamo Rent A Car revealed just how difficult it is for families to truly get away from it all. Half of American adults do not unplug while on vacation, with one in four reporting working every day of their vacations.

Despite these constraints, 71 percent of people reported feeling more positive after their vacations and 40 percent said they are more productive when they return to work, according to the 2015 Alamo Family Vacation Survey of over 1,000 adults married or in a committed relationship.

Interestingly, parents tend to take shorter vacations than non-parents, with 37 percent reporting their family vacation lasted five days or less, compared to 26 percent of non-parents.

Leading up to a vacation, one in four Americans (26 percent) are stressed about packing. Women are twice as likely as men to report packing as the biggest stressor before vacation (30 percent vs. 16 percent).

Does your family use screen time or classic car games to pass the time while traveling? If you said "both," you're in good company. Just over half of families use screen time to keep themselves entertained on a flight or car trip, while almost two-thirds of parents report they still play traditional car games with their family while driving to a destination.

Other findings from the Alamo study include:

Gadgets and car games get the green light.

  • Just 6 percent of parents do not let their children use any electronic devices on vacation.
  • Dads are a bit more likely than moms to approve the use of electronic devices for their children on vacation (98 percent vs. 93 percent).
  • Single parents are more likely to play car games with kids on vacation than married parents (73 percent vs. 59 percent).
  • I Spy is the favorite traditional car game for 45 percent of families, followed by the License Plate Game (28 percent) and the Alphabet Game (24 percent).

    Where you live may influence where you go.

    • Midwesterners are most likely to prefer a beach vacation, or someplace warm and sunny (43 percent).
    • Westerners prefer outdoor vacations (13 percent). They are also the most likely to play traditional car games with children (67 percent).
    • Southerners are the most likely to prefer a cruise vacation (11 percent). 
    • Northeasterners are the most likely to prefer to take vacations to theme parks or water parks (14 percent). This region is also the most likely to take a vacation during the summer (42 percent).

      Leaving Vacation Days on the Table

      The U.S. Travel Association's 2015 Overwhelmed America study revealed that the average American leaves 3.2 days of paid time off on the table each year.

      The study also reaffirmed what we already knew about Americans' desire for affordable family vacation options and money-saving travel strategies. Just under half (46 percent) of respondents reported feeling apprehensive and nervous about spending too much money on a family vacation.