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  • Leticia Latino

I am ready for vacation, are you?

The summer is here, and for me, that has always meant taking whatever time off I can take to reconnect with myself and my family. While owning your business means that you will never vacation completely "disconnected", I am known for making sure to squeeze in vacation time here and there, and even when I worked in Corporate America, I would NEVER leave unused vacation on the table.

While I feel grateful for all the great things I've learned and absorbed from the American culture in the 25 years I have lived in the US, there's one thing that I and my Dutch hubby have developed here, and we talk about it often, and it is "vacation guilt".

Just the other day I was at a meeting, and now that a good amount of people are vaccinated you start hearing the question again: "Any plans for the summer?"

Surprisingly enough, I heard the usual "pre-pandemic" answer:

"With all this work?. Who can take a vacation?"

"Oh, I wish! I haven't taken any vacation in over two years."

"We want to go somewhere, but am not sure my boss will approve of me taken two weeks off"

An important fact to understand is that The United States is the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 36 of the world’s wealthiest nations, that doesn’t require employers to give workers annual paid leave, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

No wonder that the United States has been dubbed by some “no-vacation nation,” how can a developed country like this still have ZERO paid vacation time mandated by federal law?. This is not to say employers don’t offer a vacation. According to the same report, employers are granted paid vacation to 90 percent of full-time workers in 2019 and 40 percent of part-time workers, however, and this is the shocking fact, even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And when they do use their days — it may not come as a surprise to learn — many of them connect with the office regularly. In my own experience, I have sensed that the culture is definitely one where you have to make yourself indispensable to the company and "compete" with colleagues as to whom is the most "hard-working". Do a little experiment around your office, and say: "I'm ready to go on vacation, are you?" and see what comes around?

Did you know that according to research from the U.S. Travel Association Americans...

- Left 768 million days of paid time off unused in 2019?

- 55 percent of Americans did not use all of their paid vacation time.

- 54 percent reported feeling guilty about taking vacation time either sometimes, often or always?

- 70 percent admitted to checking in with their workplace from vacation regularly.

My motto has always been: "Work Hard and Play Hard". Taking time off is a crucial part of living a fulfilled life. We should all praise each other for taking vacation and time off, rather than compete with each other on who has gone the longest without taking a vacation. To me is a sign of lack of commitment to living a well-balanced life, rather than a sign of great work ethic.

So the time has come to reflect on a very important question, how many days of vacation have you left on the table?

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