Expedia released its 23rd annual Vacation Deprivation study revealing insufficient leisure time remains a pressing issue. After analyzing the work-life balance of individuals across the globe for over two decades, the study shows that an increasing number of people continue to suffer from vacation deprivation, particularly among younger age groups.
This year's study found that younger generations are particularly prone to vacation deprivation. A staggering number of Gen Zers (73%) and Millennials (66%) reported feeling vacation deprived, compared to 58% of Gen Xers and 43% of Baby Boomers. On a global scale, 53% of respondents go at least 6-12 months between vacations.
Vacation deprivation has been a problem for several years now, but this year's study suggests the issue is only getting worse among younger generations. If people don't make enough time for leisure, it can have serious implications for their physical and mental health.
Vacation Deprivation Levels Have Reached a 10-Year High
Common barriers to vacations include navigating inflation, workplace labor shortages, and busy schedules. Americans receive and take the fewest vacation days annually compared to the rest of the world, receiving an average of 12 days but only taking 11. This is over a week less than the global average.
More than half of U.S. (58%) and global (56%) respondents say their workplace or industry is battling labor shortages, making it challenging to take time off. 63% of U.S. working adults report they are vacation deprived, up from last year (59%).
Gen Zer Bella Bucchiotti, owner of xoxoBella, shares her difficulties with insufficient leisure time. “With a focus on building my own business, I failed to carve out time for a real vacation. As a result, I struggled with maintaining my mental health. I found that the culture of having to hustle led to significant burnout.”
In 2022, the countries that took the fewest vacation days were the U.S., Mexico, and Singapore. Across the globe, the level of vacation deprivation has exceeded the rates seen during the pandemic and is currently at its highest in the last ten years.
Although leisure time is necessary for physical and mental well-being, many people still struggle to book a break due to financial constraints or work obligations. The Expedia Vacation Deprivation study revealed that 62% of working adults feel vacation deprived compared to last year's 58%.
Alex Caspero, MA, R.D., Dietitian at Delish Knowledge, is a millennial who prioritized her goals ahead of leisure time and wasn't able to find a work-life balance. “When I was both working full time and starting my hustle (now full-time job), I didn't think I had the time to take a vacation. Any time that wasn't spent at my full-time job was spent working on building my private practice. Time was my most valuable commodity, and taking vacations would have taken me away from my goals.”
Ashlee Fechino used to have very limited days off and wasn't able to go anywhere with only a few days off in a row each month. “As a millennial, I thought climbing the corporate ladder would help me achieve my dreams. Instead, I found myself on call 24/7 and only off two weekends a month. I had a lot of responsibilities, and taking a vacation was difficult. At the time, my idea of a vacation was a staycation at home cozied up on the couch with my dog or hiking the local trails to unplug.”
“I didn't go anywhere. Life was miserable,” continues Fechino. She eventually burned out and quit her job, completely changing her lifestyle. Soon after, she launched The Happiness Function, now a successful travel blog, and believes the perfect equation for happiness includes being outdoors, traveling, and having a sense of wonder.
Gen X Burning The Candle at Both Ends
As a Gen Xer myself, I am constantly battling the demands of raising my young children with those of my profession. Endless work deadlines, packing kids' lunches, after-school practices, and family activities can make taking time off seem like a foreign concept.
Vacations with my family over the last year have become a blurred line where I can't pinpoint where work ends, and vacation begins. My computer travels everywhere with me, and there is rarely a day when I don't log in.
Paul Rose Jr. battles a similar fate.
“I was born in 1970 and I remember taking vacations growing up. But since I graduated college and entered the workforce, I don’t really. Or rather, they’re working vacations. I go someplace and get a hotel room, but I’m there to speak, or I’m running around Comic Con, getting interviews and covering panels. The longest vacation I’ve ever taken was a 10-day train tour and cruise of Alaska, and every time I had decent WiFi, I was pulling out my laptop to get work done… I’m not sure I even know how to stop.”
Babies and Boomers
While the Baby Boomers fared the best out of all generations in 2022, they face their own unique challenges. Taking care of grandchildren for their overworked kids while balancing the needs of their aging parents creates a perfect storm for this generation.
“My husband and I, although retired and financially independent, have not been able to take regular vacations in the past few years because of caring for grandchildren during Summer breaks and helping care for our aging parents,” shares Kathy Owen, owner of Petticoat JUNKtion.
Globally, staff and labor shortages are an issue for most workplaces: 56% of survey respondents worldwide said their workplace or industry is battling staffing shortages, making it difficult to get away. The Americas are most impacted at 59% compared to 52% of Europeans.
Margarita Ibbott from DownshiftingPRO is patiently waiting for her husband to retire so they can start traveling together. “I often travel without him because I have the time and resources, but he doesn't have the time. As an account executive for a large corporation, it seems like there are fewer people in the field. Less manpower means more work, so he never feels he can escape. He has more vacation time than some of his colleagues but rarely uses even half of it!”
Take The Stress Out of Planning
Flight cancellations and delays have become common for travelers, causing significant inconvenience – especially during busy travel periods. In the last year, almost half (49%) of travelers have had at least one trip canceled or significantly delayed due to circumstances beyond their control.
Even so, travelers aren't feeling deterred: only 4% said they plan to take fewer trips in 2023 out of worry about potential disruptions. Expedia flight data showing searches for summer getaways are up 25% year-over-year, indicating Americans are on a path to reduce vacation deprivation in 2023.
For some travelers, the obstacles start during the planning process. New Expedia tools, including Price Tracking & Predictions, help vacation-deprived Americans reclaim their time off, as 72% of Americans say they find booking travel stressful in the search to find the best deal.
Expedia app features have been designed with the traveler in mind. Using Expedia data, AI, and machine learning, the in-app features include:
Price Tracking & Prediction: View price history, receive alerts when prices fluctuate, and understand when prices are likely to change to help take the guesswork out of booking.
Packages: Book airfare, hotel, and car at the same time on Expedia, otherwise known as bundling, to instantly unlock savings.
Trip planning boards: Launching in June, this collaborative tool takes the stress out of trip planning by allowing groups of travelers to plan the perfect trip together.
Conversational trip planning: iOS users can use Expedia's new in-app feature powered by ChatGPT to make travel planning easier. Start an open-ended conversation in the Expedia app and get recommendations on places to go, where to stay, how to get around, and what to see and do.
“Expedia's new Price Tracking and Predictions feature on the app do more than save people money,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. “It's about the time savings and peace of mind that comes with knowing you have machine learning informing your booking decisions and a tool at your fingertips that does the work of price tracking for you.”
“I Plan To Travel No Matter What”
There is good news. Despite 69% expecting inflation to impact them over the coming year, only 1 in 5 anticipate postponing a vacation, instead looking for ways to cut back on grocery bills and dining out. A whopping 87% of travelers worldwide intend to travel the same amount, or more in 2023, and 57% have already booked a trip this year.
It's clear that vacation deprivation is hitting younger generations harder than ever before, but with proper planning, it doesn't have to be that way. Taking the time to travel can help ease vacation deprivation, helping individuals of all ages live healthier, happier lives.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.