Top 12 Reasons Americans Do Not Take Their Vacation Days

Why is it that Americans are known for making endless excuses for not taking their vacation days? Everybody loves a vacation, am I right? People around the world cherish their vacation and would never freely give it up. So why are workers in the U.S. often willing to forgo their earned (and paid) vacation days?

This top 10, no make that top 12 list offers the set of reasons I discovered why so many Americas are not taking their vacation days. Or at least not treating them with the respect they deserve. Do any of them apply to you?

Vacation Sign - Next 12 Exits

Luckily you can turn your fear (is that the right word?) of vacation around and never take paid time off for granted ever again. Are you ready to stop making excuses and overcome your vacation deprivation?

1. I’ve got too much work to do

We all believe that we have too much work to do but that is what a “full-time” job is all about. This excuse isn’t going away anytime soon unless you take action now to put vacation on equal footing as work and life. The appropriate solution is to push the pause button on your work. It will still be waiting for you when you return from a needed vacation.

2. I’m too busy to plan a vacation

Planning a trip isn’t as much work as you think. Travel agents can book everything at no cost to you. Plus you can stay at an all-inclusive resort, pick a packaged tour, or go on a pre-planned cruise. Don’t be too busy to capture the excitement that comes with imaging the possibilities of a vacation. Just think back to your last memorable vacation.

3. My children are too young to drag on vacation

While it is true that young children present a challenge, the travel industry has a solution for every family. There are places to visit that are baby friendly, toddler friendly, child friendly, and of course young adult friendly. Do a quick search online and you’ll be amazed by the number of tour operators and travel agents that specialize in planning family vacations.

4. I don’t know where to go on vacation

It’s called decision paralysis since the choices of where to go on vacation seem limitless. That doesn’t stop you from browsing the monstrous cereal aisle in the supermarket (at least I have this problem) and making your best choice for today. The same goes for vacations. Just like with breakfast cereals, there are few bad choices, or destinations for which to visit at least once.

5. It is impossible to coordinate my vacation days with my partner

Does your spouse or travel partner have trouble taking vacation at the same time as you? Or perhaps also when the kids are off from school? You can overcome this common excuse by using compromise while being a bit creative and flexible. You may end up taking several long holiday weekends, go on one massive summer holiday, or even take separate vacations rather than lose paid vacation days.

6. I can’t get my preferred vacation days approved

Does your company approve vacation requests based on seniority or a who-asked-first order? Either way it is impossible to always take off at the absolute perfect time. Instead go for “almost perfect” and take a vacation when no one else wants to. Turn this excuse into an advantage. You’ll likely save money and run into fewer crowds and tourists.

7. I am too important to my company to take time off

Did you tell yourself this or did your boss say so? It doesn’t matter because time off has proven benefits to your productivity and success at work (and their bottom line). Vacations revive and refresh your mental energies and you’ll return with greater creativity, focus, and drive. You are too important to your company to NOT take time off. Tell them that!

8. I may not get a promotion if I am seen taking too much vacation

Taking all your vacations can be seen as a weakness when your performance is being ranked against your peers. Get rid of those worries now because it is still possible to put 100% into your job and still take your time off. It might mean a small amount of work on the road and checking in with the office, but that is still better than skipping vacations altogether.

9. I don’t want to overburden my colleagues with my workload

This excuse sounds noble if you fail to remember that life is a two-way street. You may have to hand over some of your responsibilities to your co-workers, but they’ll do the same when they go on vacation. As long as you coordinate your time-off calendar in advance, you’ll empower your colleagues to take all their vacation too.

10. I’m afraid of visiting another country

Vacations don’t have to involve leaving your home country, but at least a few times in your life you have to find a way to go abroad. It has never been easier in the history of the world to hop on a plane and arrive in a foreign country, often on the same day. Where is your dream destination and what places in the world must you visit before you die? Talk to the people around you and read travel blogs to become inspired to travel to the place that you’ll never forget!

11. I can’t afford to take a vacation

This is probably the best reason for not being able to take a vacation, but once again it can be overcome if you make it your goal. A vacation can take place in a state or national park or involve a multi-day drive around your home region. Saving for an annual vacation might mean forgoing a few luxuries such as cable TV, an extra car, or going out as often. Create a vacation savings account at an online bank (auto-transfer from your regular checking account monthly) to build up a nest egg for your next big vacation. There is a vacation out there for every budget.

12. It’s too difficult to plan a vacation for my entire family

If you get into the mindset that a vacation is a chore or a pain to plan, you are setting yourself up for vacation failure. Planning a vacation is just like any project at home or work. You need to break the task into smaller pieces, even as little as 15 minutes of your free time. Learn how to create a project plan and allocate 2-4 months to plan a short trip and 4-9 months to plan a major vacation. Check off tasks as you accomplish them and before you know it you’ll have an entire vacation itinerary ready to go.


So what’s your excuse for not taking every one of your vacation days this year?

Comment below and add your reasons and how you have learned to overcome them. Also pass along this post to your co-workers and friends who are having trouble overcoming their own fear of vacation time.

  • Sara says:

    You seem kind of out of touch with what real people are. “I’m afraid to visit another country.” Well that sounds like an affluent person problem, thinking you have to visit another country in order for it to be a vacation.

    Unless you have a major case of OCD or worry about everything and freak out if it’s not on an itinerary you don’t need 9 months to plan a vacation. Unless you’re going to some great exclusive place with tours and schedules it takes about a week or 2 to work out the details and if you’re going during peak season (summer normally) you should make reservations a few months in advance.

    You’re part of the reason people feel like they can’t take a vacation. It costs nothing and takes almost no great planning other than checking the weather and supplies to go on a road trip and stay in the car or camp in a tent.

    But then… you don’t make money off of that kind of vacation, do you?

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes I absolutely agree that you don’t have to visit another country to take a vacation. That is why that reason is only 1 of my 12 biggest reasons why Americans fail to take their vacation days. Vacations can be close to home and planned at the last minute for sure.

      However I believe when you take the time to plan a big and bold vacation months in advance, you will gain from the experience. Budgeting for an international trip is a great way to get out of our comfort zones and gain new insights into the world. And you’ll have a fun and relaxing time too! For those who don’t like long flights, remember that Canada is just north of the border and the islands of the Caribbean plus Mexico can be visited by cruise ship.

      In my opinion there is no wrong destination to go to on vacation (and no this website doesn’t make money based on where VacationsCounts readers take a vacation), but I feel it is a mistake to not take all of your paid vacation days. This article includes a few of the many reasons that my research has uncovered about why Americas are so bad about taking vacations. Happy traveling…

  • I agree on #11 – it doesn’t have to cost a lot to vacation. My places are even free!

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