Vacations are a vital element of any well-rounded lifestyle, offering a chance to take a break from daily routines and clear one's mind of the stresses and strains that arise at work. According to recent Gallup polls, ample time spent out of the office or workplace has actually been proven to increase overall happiness and well-being in working Americans, regardless of income levels. Getting out and about with an intention of simply enjoying oneself and exploring opportunities for new experiences provides a cathartic space to unwind and appreciate the world for the rich and diverse place that it is. But a strange trend has been emerging among vacation-eligible adults in the US who opt out of taking paid days off despite the myriad of increasingly tempting travel opportunities available.
Americans Work Hard, But How Much is Too Much?
A new survey published by travel website Skift shows that an astonishing 41% of Americans neglected to take even a single vacation day in 2014. Based off a sample of 1,500 US adults, the poll revealed a number of surprising statistics outlining a national indifference towards leisurely holidays, even among higher income brackets. On average, women apparently take less vacation days than men, younger workers are more inclined to stay on the job instead of taking time off, and those living in the eastern United States were less inclined to take vacation days than those living in the west. Perhaps most intriguing was a comparison of American vacation day rates to Europeans, of whom a vast majority took all of their average allowed 28 vacation days.
Skift highlighted a number of other studies and surveys exhibiting the stagnant state of vacation rates in the US, raising the question of why so few full-time employees are going on holiday. A sparse 13% ventured outside of the country in the last year, 63% didn't travel anywhere for leisure at all, and about half of the survey pool reported that they didn't take a single day off over the past summer. The polls, of course, are only a cross-section of the US population at large but still provoke a curiosity around the apparent disinterest in once-prevalent overseas excursions like a trip to Italy or tour of France; have Americans simply lost interest in international travel?
New Opportunities on the Horizon for the First Cruise Ship to Cuba
Despite the Skift surveys' bleak outlook an attitude of ambition has still pervaded the travel industry following President Obama's pledge to revamp political connections with Cuba. The recent developments sparked hopes that open tourism in Cuba might soon be permitted for American citizens, long barred from visiting the 780-mile-long Caribbean island nation, and tour operators have jumped at the chance to declare some sort of future travel offerings in the country. The most promising bid so far comes from Pearl Seas Cruises, which issued a press release stating that the cruise ship operator was exploring options and investigating possible ports and itineraries for future cruise routes. The CEO of Pearl Seas, Charles Robertson, is quoted as saying, "What we're looking at right now is the logistical side? We're getting ready so once the regulatory environment becomes clear, we can begin operating quickly." Robertson even touted a prospective date sometime in 2017 for the Pearl Mist ship's maiden voyage to Cuba; largely dependent, of course, on how the legal landscape plays out in the future. Although not set in stone, the possibility of open travel to Cuba is an exciting prospect that has piqued the interests of many Americans looking for a new and unique destination to uncover.
So Why are Americans Reluctant to Travel?
With growing opportunities budding up all over the travel industry and prime conditions for a holiday overseas, it seems to make little sense as to why Americans aren't using their vacation days to get out and explore the experiential bounties of the world. With fluctuations in global economies, specifically the Euro, making it cheaper than ever for travelers from the US to visit Europe, and recent months yielding dramatically lowered fuel costs worldwide, there has never been a better time to take that dream trip abroad and explore Rome, or bring your significant other on a romantic journey to the lovely city of Paris. Despite these optimal conditions, though, further studies from Skift uncovered the primary reason for our nation-wide reluctance to travel; only 13% of Americans believe they can afford to travel on their vacation days.
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