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A Third of Americans Regret How They Used Their Vacation Days in 2018, a New Survey Says

by Eben Diskin Nov 30, 2018

For many Americans, vacation opportunities depend entirely on paid time off (PTO). Many US companies give three weeks of PTO while others only give two, and that means you only have 10-15 days a year to work with. You’d think Americans would be eager to fit in all those epic trips they’ve been fantasizing about at their desks and use PTO to its fullest. Apparently not, according to a new Priceline report.

A whopping 29 percent of Americans said they have regrets about how they used their PTO in 2018. Some are leaving vacation time on the table while others used it to attend weddings, trips home for the holidays, or other obligations that didn’t exactly align with their idea of an ideal trip.

One of the most surprising figures from the Priceline report is that a quarter of Americans will enter the new year with nine unused vacation days. If you’re lucky, those may carry over to 2019. Most likely, however, they’ll just disappear.

“People begin the year expecting to take full advantage of the vacation time they’re given,” said Brett Keller, Priceline’s CEO, “but find themselves scrambling to use those days as December approaches.” Afraid of running out of vacation days too early, it’s entirely possible that people simply save them too long. Better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them, right?

Well, no. Since one in four Americans express regret about how they spent (or didn’t spend) their PTO, it would suggest that being stingy with vacation time doesn’t exactly pay off. A whopping 59 percent said they plan to make better use of their PTO in 2019. When asked what kind of trip they plan to take, 85 percent expressed the need to get away from their stressful routine and make relaxation a focal point of the trip. So even when Americans are able to pull themselves away from their desks long enough to take a vacation, the makeup of that vacation is largely shaped by the stresses of work and the pressing need to unwind.

Interestingly, one of Americans’ biggest vacation regrets revolves around using PTO for wedding-related events. Destination weddings and bachelor/bachelorette parties can feel like obligations impossible to ignore, and they eat up a huge chunk of PTO. Nineteen percent of Americans said they used their PTO for wedding activities with 41 percent citing it as their top regret.

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