“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage” (Paulo Coelho)…for those of you that love traveling the world and are able to experience it, this quote is likely near and dear to your heart. But unfortunately, this is not the case with many Americans. Did you know that 49 percent of working Americans would give up paid vacation time in exchange for a salary increase? It’s a stark reality but one of many interesting facts raised in a recent annual Vacation Confidence Index survey by Allianz Global Assistance. By the end of this post, hopefully you will be able to answer this question yourself – how much do you place on the value of vacation?
Americans Waste Vacation Days
When I started reading Allianz’s survey, many of the facts came as no surprise given that Americans have a tendency to “waste” vacation days on an annual basis. In 2015, according to US Travel Association, Americans wasted a staggering 658 million vacation days. Has the trend diminished over recent years? Unfortunately not! 2016 saw this number slightly increase to 662 million, while 2017 continued the upward trend to 705 million.
So, when I noticed in Allianz’s article that half of Americans would rather see an increase in their salary, it’s honestly no surprise. There are really two ways you can look at this – Americans are (or at least consider themselves) to be underpaid OR there is a distinctive trend of Americans preferring to stay at home and leave the travel to citizens of other countries. It’s certainly a stereotype that many associate with Americans and unfortunately, these statistics are not doing any favors to change this opinion.
Millennials Want Unlimited Vacation Time
Despite the negative statistic (or positive if you are in the market for getting an increased salary at work)…it’s not all doom and gloom as this survey highlights a number of encouraging statistics that may see the trend changing in years to come! If you walked into work tomorrow and your boss offered you the incentive of being able to take unlimited vacation time whenever you wanted…what would you say? Your immediate response would likely be yes but if he/she then indicated you had to give up a portion of your paycheck, would your response change?
According to Allianz’s Vacation Confidence Index survey, one in three (34 percent) would give up a portion of their paycheck to have unlimited vacation – YEAH THAT’S WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT! I guess it’s no surprise to also hear that Millennials are even more likely (41 percent) to do this. If you love travel, you will realize that it’s not actually the cost of traveling that prevents you from doing it, it’s having enough time to explore the world!
Finding the Balance Between Work and Vacation
What is most interesting about this statistic is that Millennials are now the most likely to give up a portion of their paycheck for unlimited vacation time but in the same token, this same group would give up paid vacation time for an increase in their salary!
What can we establish from this dataset? Well, given that we fit perfectly into this category, let’s use our personal opinions on this topic. We have been very fortunate over the last 8 years to establish our travel brand, while at the same time maintaining full-time jobs at Arkansas State University. Flexibility and professional success (as identified in the Allianz survey) are undoubtedly key components but I would also add that being able to stay connected 24/7 provides an opportunity that perhaps previous generations have never had.
We are incredibly fortunate to be in positions that honestly, we can do most things from wherever we are in the world. When you are willing to show your employer that you are willing to respond to an e-mail, run a report or resolve an issue when you are technically “on vacation” this adds so much value to the work vacation balance.
Heather frequently reminds me that when we are on vacation we should leave work at home but honestly, I truly feel that we are able to be so successful because we have found that perfect balance of being able to leave our day jobs yet still assist whenever needed when we are on the road. The benefit of having an international travel sim card such as that offered by KnowRoaming is a great way to stay connected wherever you are in the world.
Allianz Vacation Confidence Index Survey
Take a look at the following infographic for details on the recent survey that Allianz conducted. Which of these categories do you consider yourself to be part of? Do you agree that there is a vast difference in opinion between Millennials, Baby Boomers, Generation X etc?
Perhaps after reading this post and checking out more of the statistics from the Vacation Confidence Index survey, you will be left with many more unanswered questions. The concept of working remotely while you are traveling, how much should you stay “connected” with your job when you are on vacation and whether there is really a true work/vacation balance are topics that you could easily write another 1000 word post on!
What is the Value of Vacation for You?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What salary would you have to receive from your employer in order to have ZERO time off (paid or unpaid)?
- What salary would you accept in order to be able to take vacation whenever you want (unlimited)?
- What is most important to you – salary or vacation?
- How do you use vacation days – do you travel or do you prefer staycations?
Each of the above questions will collectively lead you to an answer on exactly how you determine the value of vacation. Everyone will have very different answers and that’s ok – it’s about finding the happy medium and “balance”. The Allianz Vacation Confidence Index survey primarily posed the first two above questions but we believe that you should dig even deeper to determine how you intend on using vacation.
If you are intending on staying at home and relaxing, I would argue there is a likelihood the trend would be folks that do this would be more apt to taking a pay raise and losing vacation days. How materialistic are you? Do you need to have the latest tech products? If yes, it sounds like salary is a more important factor but every individual will have a different pendulum to determine which is key for them!
So the million dollar question, what is the value of vacation for you? Our desire to explore the world and experience diverse cultures means that we are obviously a little biased and place a strong emphasis on being able to travel. However, we are always intrigued to hear the flip side to this and establish why others feel differently. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
For the avid travelers reading this post, I can certainly understand how the thought of being able to travel the world more frequently is going to be the most appealing factor. But as with all stories, there are two sides that are worth hearing and it’s only fair to learn and try to understand why there is such a large percentage of Americans that would be willing to forfeit paid time-off in order to see an increase in their salary.
Many people have an inherent fear of traveling, most notably because of the stereotypes that are attached to many places (including USA) around the world. From threats of terrorism to the potential to pick up diseases on the road, there is a lot of negative media that understandably encourages many people to stay at home. Our opinion has always been that you are just as safe (if not safer) in most places across the globe and as long as you carry international travel insurance, such as the amazing service offered by Allianz, you can travel with a peace of mind knowing that you are covered for any issues that may occur.
I am intrigued to see how these trends change over the next few years – will we see a continued increase in these statistics or will younger generations have a stronger tendency to travel or want to make more money? Only time will tell!
This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared in this post are our own.
I’ve heard that Americans never use all their paid vacation time (insane). But it is absolutely crazy to me that Americans would choose a higher salary over vacation time…..because if you are getting the option of vacation time in the first place you probably have a decent salary to start with. It’s probably clear that I value vacation over salary. I quit my job last year because I value it so much, lol (trying to do freelance now!)
This is an interesting read. Due to circumstances at the time, I spent most of my twenties not traveling. Since things are totally different now, I’m not sure there is any salary that I would accept if it meant I couldn’t travel anymore. I’m making up for a decade of my life I can’t get back! I understand the various reasons people don’t travel, but I’m not willing to give it up! Spoken like a true (older) millennial… right!?
I would gladly give up some of my salary for more days off. I tend to max out my time every year. When my husband got his current job he actually was able to negotiate more days off for less salary. His employer was surprised, and gladly agreed to the deal. For us, the only reason for our salaries is so we have money to travel and I need my job for health insurance for my health issues. Our travels always nourish our souls. #WeekendWanderlust
I used to work in a position with a 9/80 work schedule, comp time for OT and fixed maximum accrual of vacation leave. This led to a lot of long extended weekends, Needless to say, I like to travel.
To make matters even worse… A couple other recent surveys are showing that having the vacation time to use (or not) is not the issue. A survey by Namely showed that workers at companies with unlimited vacation policies actually took LESS vacation time than people at traditional companies. The culprit is workload. Sure, you can take time off, but deadlines don’t. Peer pressure was cited in another survey – you feel bad for taking a lot of time off, especially when workload is heavy. All this despite the proven benefit for both workers and companies that production goes up when you take time off regularly. And then there’s a question of definition. If you spend time answering emails and doing “just this one thing” – are you on vacation, or are you working remotely?
This is the case with Indians as well. The majority of Indians would rather accept a pay hike, in fact, we sacrifice our weekends for some extra bucks as well. I agree that vacation does a great job of relaxing but most people are just burdened with responsibilities to be able to afford a vacation. And that is why most of us choose a salary hike instead. Just my sad point of view
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