Vacations are back. American workers are beginning to take more vacation time. This is a welcome change from the vacation slump that has affected workers in nearly all industries for the past decade. A new survey reveals that 2016 saw an increase in the number of vacation days taken by workers. However, many workers are still leaving a significant number of vacation days on the table. The unfortunate reality is that leaving unused vacation days on table is basically the same as leaving real money on the table. Employees in the United States forfeited $66.4 billion in unused vacation benefits in 2016. This works out to about $604 per employee.

A Closer Look At The Number Of Vacation Days American Workers Took

The average number of vacation days taken by American workers in 2016 was 16.8. This is an increase of 5 percent from the average of 16 vacation days taken in 2014. While this increase should be viewed as a positive sign, American workers still aren't taking enough vacation days.

It's obvious to see that time off can help people to relax, spend time with family and feel recharged when they return to work. This can increase personal satisfaction and professional productivity. In addition, vacation days that get used actually benefit the entire economy because of the revenue that is generated from vacation spending.

Why Aren't People Taking Enough Vacation Days?

The work culture in the United States isn't very friendly to taking vacation time. It is up to each employer to set rules and policies for taking time off. However, many workers don't even make use of vacation time when it is available.

Many workers get mixed messages regarding vacation time. The downturn in the economy that occurred a decade ago left many workers afraid to be away for a few days or weeks at a time even if they technically had the right to take paid vacation time.

It can also be difficult for workers to unplug and actually travel in the connected world that we live in. Many people feel the expectation to always be available to answer emails or work at odd hours simply because technology has caused the workday to spill over into nearly every moment of our lives. This means that workers fear looking lazy or neglectful if they do visit areas where phones and laptops can't be easily used for work purposes.

Are Vacations Here To Stay?

The fact that American workers are feeling comfortable with taking slightly more vacation time than they had in previous years is a positive sign. The rebounding economy could mean that employees will soon feel comfortable escaping from the workplace for a few days or weeks at a time to truly enjoy the vacations they deserve.

It's a great time to start planning your long-term strategy for taking a much-deserved holiday if you'd been skipping out in recent years. It could be a good time to sign up for an airline loyalty program or get a new credit card that offers bonus air miles and travel-related perks for everyday purchases. Taking some small steps now could help you save some money and enjoy a better experience when you are finally ready to request those vacation days and hit the road.