SURVEY SAYS: How Much Vacation Will You Take?

May 29, 2008 ( - Truth be told (and why would I lie), I've never been very "good" about taking vacations.

Oh, I take time off – but like many of you, I never quite seem to get in all the days I’m entitled to – and even when I’m out, I’m generally tethered via blackberry, laptop and cellphone.    This week I’d like to know – do you think you will get in all your vacation time – and how connected will you be?

A full 45% of this week’s respondents said “yes, definitely” to this week’s question, and nearly one-in-five ( 19% ) said “probably.”   Those stood in some contrast to the 15% who responded “probably not”, then nearly 8% who thought it was “not very likely”, the 7% who flatly said “no”, and the roughly 6% who responded, “you’re kidding, right?”

Those statistics are even more compelling when you consider that more than a third of this week’s respondents have accumulated three weeks of vacation time – and more than half (nearly 55% ) have more than three weeks to get in (most of the rest had two weeks).

“Connect” Shuns

As for staying connected during that vacation, a clear plurality ( 38% ) said “they’ll call me if they need me”, while nearly as many (nearly 32% ) said simply that they wouldn’t be checking in.    On the other hand, 36.1% said they would check email, nearly 27% would check in via voicemail, and roughly 8% said they would actually call in (more than one answer could be checked).    

I also asked how folks why they wouldn’t get in all their vacation time (if applicable), and a whopping 80% said there was ‘too much to do/too few to do it/too little time to do it in.   A distant 13.2 % said more than one of the above.”  

As for what was in that more:

  • 6.6% – get too much vacation time
  • 5.3% – my coworkers make me indispensable

While 2.6% each said their boss thinks they are indispensable – or that they do/are.

There were, as you might imagine disparate thoughts on the subject:

"IMHO, some people don't take vacation because they fear their boss will find out that they are NOT indispensable!"

"At my former job, about a month after being hired, boss warned that if I took a vacation, I might not have a job to come back to. Then the work just piled-up, so the only days off I took were to interview. What a blessing it is to now have a true vacation benefit."

And a lot of folks who had had - second thoughts:

"In past years I did not take all of my vacation and when I did I was constantly checking in. Now - in my mid 40's - I have finally straightened out my priorities. The old saying that you won't look back while on your death bed and say, "I wish I had spent more time working" has hit home. I intend to take as much vacation as possible and devote the time totally to enjoying my family while I can. With a 10 and 13 year old the time is passing way too quickly..."

"After having 5 jobs eliminated through mergers, selloffs, etc., I realized that working my tail off doesn't necessarily make you indispensable.........hence I am not killing myself any longer and enjoying my job a lot more! I'm more productive and happier taking all my vacation and not being connected 24/7 to the job! After losing my spouse at age 61 to cancer last year after 23 years of marriage, I've realize that life is way too short...."

"All I know is, it is WAY more painful to come back to 300 or emails following a vacation than it is to spend an hour a day checking email while on vacation! If vacations are supposed to de-stress a person, the last thing I want is to have a coronary when I see how many emails I got while I was relaxing and now have to deal with! Whoever said that the work will get done without you? -- It just all "waits" for you to get back!"

"I'm getting married in September and this year, for the first time since I started working eight years ago, I'm determined to try to make it through one vacation (seven days out of the three weeks of vacation time I'm allowed, and the first vacation I've allowed myself to take in several years) without checking in. Hey, it's my honeymoon...if there's ever a vacation to try to take a break from work, shouldn't that be it?!"

One of my favorites was from the reader who said, " I have 3 little boys, work sometimes is vacation - and vacation is sometimes more work...."

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who noted, "With gas prices rising faster than my discretionary income, we have no money to go anywhere. No, wait, we have money to get there, but none after we do!"

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

I think that people who don't use all of their vacation are either 1) egotistical in thinking that their working world can't get along without them or 2) poor managers of their time and resources. The best manager is one who can leave the office in confidendence knowing that he/she has adequately prepared the troops to handle things.
You must, deep down, really love your job to not take vacation. I find taking vacation days off absolutely necessary in order to avoid burnout and feelings of resentment for being overworked and underappreciated (notice -- not underpaid, just underappreciated).
Remember crying in your beer with friends as you figured out your "real hourly rate" based on the hours you actually worked? I took a job with the state and now all my OT is translated into comp time. As a result, I have nearly five weeks of vacation time, plus who know how much sick time. I could NEVER take all of this time in a year - there's too much work!
I learned after 27 years in this business that if I dropped dead tomorrow, the work will still get done! I quit being indispensable! After having 5 jobs eliminated through mergers, selloffs, etc., I realized that working my tail off doesn't necessarily make you indispensable.........hence I am not killing myself any longer and enjoying my job a lot more! I'm more productive and happier taking all my vacation and not being connected 24/7 to the job! After losing my spouse at age 61 to cancer last year after 23 years of marriage, I've realize that life is way too short....
I did just take a week of vacation where I actually didn't stay connected - no voice mail; no email; no phone calls. It was wonderful! The most relaxing vacation in a long time. Of course, now I'm trying to catch back up.
All I know is, it is WAY more painful to come back to 300 or emails following a vacation than it is to spend an hour a day checking email while on vacation! If vacations are supposed to de-stress a person, the last thing I want is to have a coronary when I see how many emails I got while I was relaxing and now have to deal with! Whoever said that the work will get done without you? -- It just all "waits" for you to get back!
As Human Resource Manager, I'm constantly putting out fires and answering questions. When I go on vacation, I leave messages on VM and EMail that I am unreachable while on vacation. It's the only time I get a breather - but, crazy as it sounds, I do look forward to getting back to my flock. They keep life interesting.
I actually use my vacation as I accrue them by taking an extra day here and there so I may have at most two full weeks of vacation to take at one time.
At this point, who can afford to go on vacation? The price of gas jumps $0.30 between fill-ups. This is not good!
I have found that vacation time is so important to building family memories - it is invaluable. Besides, with working so much, it is the only time I can truly count on seeing my kids for any extended period of time (they are teenagers) - so it's not an option not to take it. If I have to stay in touch with the office, it is worth it. For me, vacation is not so much about relaxation (that would be nice, but will probably come at some future date) as about important family time.
To me vacation is not being at work. I don't need to travel away from home to enjoy that time off. In fact, some of my best vacations were ones that were spent at home with no agenda. I make sure that I use most of my alloted vacation and carryover only one to two days. No one is indispensible. Think about it, if you die they will just replace you. So you might as well take the time they give you.
The company has done nothing to help associates deal with rising fuel costs. It has, however, gone totally to telephone and online conferencing and cut out all off site training which it relied on extensively in the past. Frankly, I'd rather lounge in my office and roll my eyes in private at the less-than-bright statements that "experts" and powers that be sometimes make.
My time off is mine. If I am indispensible, then my company is not very well run, and I should be looking for a new job.
My company is in the midst of being sold. It's very likely the transaction will be complete by the second half of the year. You're dam right I'm taking every blessed vacation day entitled. Come December I will be working under the name of a different company.
I'm a big believer in completely ignoring the office when I'm on vacation. Otherwise, what's the point? To parapharse a popular quote, when I retire, I don't expect to say "If only I could've sent or received a few more emails." Life is far too short to give it all to the office.
Take your vacations, people! If you can't find the time something has gone horribly astray.
Bonus question is reason I am looking for a new job.
Jacksonville's businesses are so spread out that public transportation isn't much of an option. If fuel prices go much higher, I will be requesting a flexible work schedule.
I only check in via voice and e-mail when I take days off. If it's a week or longer, I try to stay unplugged the entire time, so I get the full benefit of a real vacation.
I haven't had any trouble using up vacation the last several years, as my folks' health continues to decline and I continue to travel to be with them for various illnesses and surgeries. Unfortunately, this means that I don't actually get any days off during the year; any time away from the office is spent with them. And I'd have to say I'm pretty happy to have that opportunity.
A few of us have started carpools on our own.
To fully disconnect from the office I usually plan an overseas trip every 2-4 years. Between the time change, the international calling, etc., it seems to reinforce the idea that I'm on vacation so maybe you shouldn't contact me.
I hope I can take a few days without pay! There just isn't enough time to do what I want to do!
Management fails to take vacations/time off into consideration when planning. For example, if a team has 12 employees each with 4 weeks paid time off, they become in essence an 11 person team. One person could be out on vacation each week of the year.
I have 3 little boys, work sometimes is vacation - and vacation is sometimes more work....
As a working Mom, there is always something coming up that I have to use a vacation day for during the year. So I always take my vacation days and wish I had more!
What is this "40 hour week" I heard about when I was a kid?
Which they would consider four day work week --
No one is indespesible on vacation. If your employees have to call you while you're out, then you have incompetent employees. I know people who leave the country on vacation, specifically so no one can call them.
I love driving but am really happy that i'm living in a city these days where public transportation is a fraction of the cost of owning and fueling a car.
I am assuming I will be so busy during my vacation time (moving, attending two weddings on the west coast, one of which is in Disneyland) that I'm assunming I won't have time to call in, check in or log in!
My cell phone stays off and at home and I do not check in. I'm on vacation, means, deal with it until I get back or I'll deal with it then.
I won't take my cell phone everywhere I go, but I will check my voicemails once every day or so.
Depends on where I go, most trips I check email
Truth be told, whether I stay connected really depends on how irritated I am before I leave. If I've had it, I probably won't stay connected. Obviously, if I'm in the midst of a big project, I'll stay connected.
I leave a very capabale employee in charge "in case of emergency".
I haven't take a truly "disconnected" vacation in a few years. The last one was a cruise about 5 years ago. I've got another vacation coming up, but I am taking my laptop so I can monitor my projects as needed.
But I tell them, don't call me, I'll call you.
I'll bring the laptop home but will not take it on vacation.
You can always take vacation, you just need to available at all times.....
I won't even think about work while I'm gone.
I'll be available if I'm in town and only out for a day. But my main goal is month long vacations out of reach of the office. Last time was Spain & the Canary Islands. Next one is New Zealand. If you are out a week, they hold everything. If you are out a month, everything is taken care of before you get back.
Check with my assistant at least 1 x a week if gone to 2 weeks.
I believe in taking all vacation days and demand that those working for me to do the same. The business world was here before any of us will survive us. Family, travel and culture should be at least as important as work. I'll enjoy life and be more productive by having a balanced life. If work becomes our life, our life becomes work.
It depends. If out of the country, I won't. If local, I'll check voice mail and glance at email. But definitely less than I used to.
Since the object of a vacation is to "unwind" and rehabilitate one's state of mind, I do not leave a phone number or specific location. I have never encountered anything that could be labeled a "pension emergency", and therefore know that my answer to any question will be the same when I return from vacation, although more pleasantly phrased.
Take my laptop ... a little work on vacation saves a lot when you get back!
My getaway has no cell phone service. There is internet but I won't take a computer. If they need me they can call the payphone at the swimming pool and leave a message.
How much checking in also depends on how many days I am out and what issues may be going on.
We get over 3 weeks of vacation and are allowed to buy 5 more days and it is still not enough!!
I'll check e-mail only to clean out the junk.
I will check voicemail before I return.
At my last job I checked in with voicemail and email to lessen the burden of when I come back. At my current position I'm not sure how to do this yet...which might not be a bad thing!
I turn off my blackberry when the flight crew says to and turn it back on at wheels down.
VPN into office to check in. Will also call in to any meetings that I may have while I am away
No place exciting to go.
I take all of my vacation...and if I have to work while I on vacation, I track that time and then take a make up day later. I guess vacation for me is "I'm checking e-mail, but I am not sitting in front of the computer all day."
My manager is actually good at not bothering us when we take vacation. I won't use all of it because I like to carry some over to the next year.
My co-workers "act" useless without me. I guess I should "make" them figure things out on their own, but then, I'd have to research and correct their mistakes. So it may be easier to "help" them through any issues up front rather than wait for my boss to call me in as the clean up crew!
Due to Physical Therapy etc, vacation time has been used for sick time. I earn 8 hours every two weeks in vacation and 4 in sick. However, due to various broken bones, surgeries etc, my leave balance is in the dumps.
not applicable
I am 64, time is worth more than $$. I always take all my vacation.
My whole department has been here so long that most of us get 27 days of PTO each year. With everyone (6 people) trying to take 5+ weeks of vacation each year it just gets too crazy.
I will get in my time because noone is indispensible
Perception of taking too much time
I fall too far behind if I take extended time I take small doses...and save the rest to cash in at about a year or so.
I've always taken all my vacation days, every year. I have way too many things to do outside of work to miss a single one!
Eh, I have more fun at work than I do on extended vacations with those I'm required to vacation with.
can't afford to go anywhere with the fuel prices and airfares what they are. I most likely will just take a Friday and or a Monday here and there in the months I don't have a holiday day off.
I will so this doesn't apply!!
I build vacation plans around fishing trips and can only afford so much, might as well work so I can afford to pay for the time off.
I would love to have the option "I get too much vacation time", although I wouldn't check it. Anyone who clicks that response should be thankful.
New Clients!!
Combination of the fact that I get 13 more days than my wife (there are only so many golf days I can take) and that I work in a bonus enviornment, so the more days I am out means that I do less work which means I have fewer accomplishments to bring up when it is time for compensation discussions.
I expect I'll get it all in.
I'm using every minute!
And everyone believes their need is immediate and, if unanswered now, will carry apocalyptic consequences.
With 1,100 employees it's just me and a Benefits Assistant and it's hard to just leave her alone to tread water for a week at a time.
I work extremely hard and I believe you should play just as hard. You need the break from your job to let you relax your mind and your soul and then when you return from vacation, you can tolerate the everyday occurrences a bit better.
Saving time and money for extended vacation next year.
I get 4 weeks vacation, I have plans for 3 of the weeks. I can and probably will roll over the other 5 days.
I actually will probably be using all of my vacation time this year, but it's due to work I am having done on my house, not due to any great trips planned (sadly).
I make sure I get it all in. Sometimes I'm still tethered by phone, but even if I just stay home and watch day-time TV (UGH!!) I take the days away from the office.
I prefer to save some of my vacation time in case of emergency. I will use up what I need to so that I don't "lose" any of it, but I will have the remainder rolled over to next year.
We have a bank that we can keep of 24 days - I accrue 2 days per month. Although I am at the max of 24, I make sure I take my 2 days per month.
I will get all my vacation this year, just have to take it one day here and there instead of all at once.
It's not that I get too much vacation, you can never have enough. I just don't take all of it so it rolls over till the next year. I need to know that I have a vacation cushin (I like to have at least 3 weeks saved) so I know that if I need to get the heck out of here, I can 🙂 .
With the number of days I get for vacation there is no way I'll be able to take it all but we do get to carryover up to 5 days to the next year so I'll be sure to use everything I have to to not loose any days.
I have a four week sabbatical in addition to the four weeks I'll accrue, in addition to the week I carried over from last year.
I don't need that much time off. But when I am off, I am not connected to work. Thats like sleeping with one eye open. I think people do either, stay connected while on vacation or sleeping with an eye open, because they are afraid of something. I have no probelm completely relaxing, and coming back refreshed. The sky will not fall while I'm away, and if it does, I work with professionals that can handle it.
Knowing my vacation habits, my boss, for years, has earmarked my unused vacation dollars to "other misc" budget items for the good of the department and my team knows the show will go on while they're out. So, call me indispensible, but not for the customary acclaim. Besides, somebody has to be anal enough to stick around and spell definitely.
Experienced serious family medical issues this year which took up more time than originally anticipated.
I have "Paid Time Off" which is vacation and sick time combined. I usually try to keep a couple of days until the end of the year just in case someone in my house is sick. If I don't need the days, then I carry them over to the next year.
I'm leaving for a new job and I want the cash, and I have used quite a bit for school!
I tend to use my days off in chunks of time and then hoard the few remaining days for the odd day off I want to use randomly. Ultimately, that tends to mean I close out the year with 1 or 2 days unused. We can roll the unused days over for 6 weeks but then they disappear.