SEATTLE—Following a year where, for many, every aspect of life—from work, school, daycare and even vacations—was spent under one roof, people worldwide are more determined than ever this year to use up all the vacation days they’ve earned. According to the annual Vacation Deprivation study from Expedia, Americans plan to take an extra week (five days) of vacation this year. With this new “no days left behind” mindset, Vacation Deprivation is well on its way to becoming a thing of the past.
Expedia first launched the annual study more than two decades ago to illustrate the benefits of vacation and encourage working adults to regularly unplug. In recent years, the benefits of vacation are well-known and undisputed, yet vacation deprivation is on the rise in most nations. This year’s findings point to yet another shift, one in which workers agree they will never take their vacation days for granted again. In fact, many Americans are optimistic about travel this year, with 36% planning to resume taking regular vacations, and another third (32%) vowing to take more vacations than usual to make up for lost time in 2020.
“The longer the pandemic, the larger the vacation bucket list and the greater the yearning to travel,” said Shiv Singh, SVP/general manager of Brand Expedia. “Globally, 81% of working adults are placing more value on vacation and 66% of them have been inspired to create a bucket list. Whether it’s inspiring memorable experiences to add to the bucket list, sharing helpful travel tips or spotlighting flexible deals, Expedia will be here to help travelers discover new destinations—smartly and confidently.”
U.S. Vacation Deprivation At-a-Glance
The study found that the U.S. reported the fewest number of vacation days taken in 2020 out of the 16 countries surveyed. Considering the impact of the pandemic on travel, feelings of vacation deprivation were unsurprisingly higher than in years’ past, with 64% of U.S. respondents reporting they felt vacation deprived, a 3% increase from 2020 and 11% increase compared to five years ago. The study also found:
- Not only did U.S. employees take the fewest vacation days (8) in 2020, along with Thailand the U.S. also received the fewest vacation days (13) when compared to other countries surveyed.
- One in four (26%) U.S. respondents noted they haven’t taken a vacation in more than a year, compared to 16% in 2019.
- 47% used at least one vacation day in 2020 to care for a sick family member or in lieu of childcare.
- 42% canceled one or more trips last year due to COVID-19.
It’s not all bad news, however. With Americans planning to take 13 vacation days this year, up from just eight days taken in 2020, work-life balance is bound to improve.
Cue the Bucket Lists
Though the pandemic put a damper on vacation plans, the study results show that the desire for travel has not diminished. In fact, 66% of people globally were inspired to create a travel bucket list, and the longer the pandemic has waged on, the longer bucket lists have become—60% of respondents said they continue to add to their lists.
Expedia’s study also found that people are willing to put more budget into their bucket list vacations in 2021 than originally planned (61%). Whether it’s trying a new activity, seeking out a place untraveled, reuniting with loved ones separated by distance —64% find vacation time more valuable when spending quality time with family or simply having time to recharge, while 54% think having the time to relax and do nothing is what makes them happiest on vacation—travelers want to make the most of their time.
2021 is on Track to be the Year People Take Back Their Days
As the hope for future travel in 2021 grows, Expedia is already seeing an uptick in people searching for their next bucket list location. For spring getaways, Expedia.com data shows that Americans are searching for warm weather and beaches. These are the destinations garnering the most interest for March and April escapes:
- Top-searched: Riviera Maya/Playa del Carmen/Tulum; Cancun; Isla Mujeres (all in Mexico); Las Vegas; Orlando, FL; Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit, Mexico; Los Cabos, Mexico; Miami; Oahu, HI; Maui, HI
Meanwhile, the trending destinations for spring show similar themes to those highlighted in the 2021 Trends Report, primarily outdoorsy, small towns or off the beaten path:
- Trending: North Georgia Mountains, GA; The Hamptons, NY; Front Royal, VA; Southwest Colorado, CO; Hagerstown, MD; Upper Peninsula, MI; South Shore, MA; Boone, NC; Lake Placid, NY; Dahlonega, GA