Survey Shows That Vacation Guilt May Be on the Decline

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Survey Shows That Vacation Guilt May Be on the Decline

Photo: Shutterstock.com


Most Americans say work inserts itself into their vacations in some form, leading to leisure time guilt that prevents them from completely relaxing during their time off.

In its annual Family Vacation Survey, Alamo Rent A Car said that 59 percent of adult workers say they put pressure on themselves to work during family vacations, and 51 percent say they feel guilty that a co-worker has to cover for them while they are away.

Only 37 percent of workers say “they prefer to completely unplug from work while on a family vacation, down from 53 percent in 2017. Apparently, they fear coming back to a mountain of work when they return, which is the concern of 57 percent of the Alamo survey’s respondents.

Another issue for adults is the sense that their workplace may not approve of their taking time off. The Alamo Vacation Survey refers to the concept as “vacation shaming,” but feels that the trend may be in decline.

Millennials feel less vacation shamed
This year, according to the survey, 41 percent of workers said they have felt vacation shamed, down from 49 percent in 2017. And this trend could continue, as year over year, Millennials are significantly less likely to say they have ever felt vacation shame (38 percent in 2018 vs. 68 percent in 2017). The more Millennials make up the workforce, the less likely this should be an issue.

Less than one in five (17 percent) respondents said that “feeling vacation shamed might keep them from planning or going on a vacation,” also on decline from the 2017 survey, when that share held at 25 percent.

But even on this measure, vacation guilt seems to be improving. Only 40 percent of workers surveyed in 2018 said they ever feel the need to justify why they’re using vacation days, as compared to 48 percent in 2017.

As has been seen in other surveys on the subject, this often means workers do not use all of their annual paid time off. According to Alamo’s survey, just over half (51 percent) of workers who receive paid vacation used all of their vacation days last year. Fathers are more likely than mothers to have unused vacation days (57 percent versus 40 percent, respectively).

As a result, more families are planning their vacations 5 or more months in advance (43 percent), compared to last year (32 percent).

Social media interferes with relaxation
Over a third (37 percent) of social media users admit they are on their apps while on family vacations, holding steady with 2017 results; while about 16 percent of social media users admit they could never unplug from social media while on a family vacation. Nearly one in four respondents in all age groups say they have seen social media ruin a family vacation experience, while 36 percent of Millennials admit the same.

More than two out of five people (43 percent) say they wish they could take a vacation from being on social media.

The 2018 Alamo Rent A Car Family Vacation Survey was conducted from Jan. 2-4, 2018, with 1,501 people aged 18 years or older, with a child under the age of 22, and from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey was fielded using the Research Now online consumer panel and required respondents had taken one or more trips with their immediate family and/or their extended family in the past five years.

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