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Vacation maxed out? Not likely in America, survey says

A blue heron walks along the beach at

A blue heron walks along the beach at sunset in Orange Beach, a vacation destination in Alabama. Credit: AP / Brynn Anderson

Thinking of taking all of your vacation time?

There’s less than a 50-50 chance your thought will translate into action, according to a national survey that found that 54 percent of working Americans failed to use all their time off.

Those workers, surveyed last year, left 662 million vacation days unused.

“In New York City, 53 percent of employees leave 37.4 million days on the table each year — the equivalent of giving $7.8 billion back to their boss,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., a AAA Northeast spokesman.

The survey results were reported in Project: Time Off’s “The State of American Vacation,” conducted by the U.S. Travel Association in partnership with the automobile association.

The survey also found that the most effective “remedy” for American workers who want to use more vacation days is better planning, yet only 54 percent set aside time to plan for using their vacation days each year.

“Through good planning, Americans can come to enjoy more of their accrued vacation time while reaping valuable benefits to both their physical and mental well-being,” Sinclair said in a news release.

But throughout New York State, 38.1 million vacation days go unused, Sinclair added, ranking the state No. 25 nationwide in that category.

Idaho holds the distinction of having workers who are the least inclined to take all their vacation time (78 percent), while those in Maine are most likely to take a break (38 percent), according to Sinclair.

The online survey was conducted among 7,331 American workers age 18 and older during January and February of last year. Those surveyed all worked more than 35 hours a week and received paid time off from their jobs.

Top among the “workaholic martyrs” are women: Only 44 percent used all their vacation days, compared to 48 percent of men.

Nevertheless, the survey shows American workers overall are using more vacation days than in the past two years. In 2016, workers used an average 16.8 days, up from 16.0 days used in 2014.

In showing planning, or a lack of planning, to be a major factor in the use of vacation time, the survey found that 52 percent of planners took all of their vacation time versus 40 percent of nonplanners, with 75 percent of planners being more likely to take a full week or more of vacation time at once.

Nonplanners take significantly fewer days at once — zero to three.

How can Americans get out of the workaholic rut? AAA offered these tips to assist with vacation planning:

  • Create a tentative budget and a schedule so your trip planning can be accomplished in a realistic manner.
  • Research and understand the pros and cons of traveling to a destination during your preferred time frame. Identify attractions or activities you are most interested in and determine if they will be available.
  • Leverage a travel company’s exclusive travel discounts for car rentals, flights and hotels.
  • Plan ahead. If you are leaving the country you will need a passport, and possibly a visa or health documentation. It can take up to six weeks to get a new passport, so allow sufficient time.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. It’s designed to offer protection against unforeseen events. Carefully review insurance policies before purchasing, as coverage options vary.

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