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The Incredible Shrinking American Vacation

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

The Incredible Shrinking American VacationVacations are theoretical concepts that exist today only on paper. That’s according to Joe Robinson, work-life balance speaker, trainer, and author of “Don’t Miss Your Life.” His statistics are dire:

Some 25 percent of Americans and 31 percent of low-wage earners get no vacation at all anymore, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. This is because, unlike in 138 other countries around the world, you’re not entitled to a vacation longer than the current news cycle. You happen to live in a country that, along with the esteemed likes of Myanmar, the Guyanas and North Korea, has no minimum paid leave law to make vacations statutorily legit.

Now maybe it’s because I have been self-employed for most of my working life — and the few jobs I have held, I didn’t accrue enough time for a validated vacation — but for every day I have taken off, I have had to make up those hours either before I left or after I returned [Ed. - Me too!]. Which creates added stress either on the front end or the back end of this so-called “relaxing.” I have no recollection of a vacation in which I left everything on my desk as is, only to pick up after my return.

Does anybody really do that?

2 Comments to
The Incredible Shrinking American Vacation

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  1. It’s always interesting to me what events or times older people recall having with their parents and siblings growing up. Vacations are at the top of the list, particularly if the family did something daring like camping in the wilderness or going to a foreign country.
    Barbara DeShong

  2. I do have to work a bit more before and after vacation. Unlike most of my colleagues, I do not answer the business phone or check business email (being a telecommuter, it’s easy enough for me to do any time of day or night). Most times I don’t check my personal email, either, although from time to time, I have checked it on the last day of vacation. I often spend time on a boat when I’m on vacation, where cell phone coverage is spotty. So, I just don’t bother turning it on.

    What surprises me is the number of colleagues who dutifully check their blackberry or smart phones every day “to keep up.” That to me flies in the face of the purpose of a vacation.

    I’d love to take two weeks off in a row, but we usually don’t have that luxury. So, I settle for starting the vacation midweek and running through the end of the next one.

    I tell colleagues not to call me unless it’s something really urgent, such as the company’s HQ has burned down, so none of us have jobs. Everything else can wait.

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