By Expedia Team, on February 22, 2022

2022 Vacation Deprivation Report: How to Unplug From Work When on Vacation

Flexible work arrangements have you feeling … well, less than flexible? It’s not just you. According to Expedia’s 22nd annual Vacation Deprivation report, over half of working adults in the U.S. agreed that working remotely and work-from-home flexibility has made it more difficult to be unplugged from work when on vacation. Further, three-fifths reported feeling vacation deprived in 2021.

While a majority were able to take advantage of the new state of the working world by traveling more, the report also found that 61% of those that took at least one workcation in the past year don’t consider them to be “true” vacations and a whopping 72% feel more burned out than ever. Overall, U.S. workers took the least amount of vacation days. And, over a third of Americans left vacations days on the table, despite being one of the countries to receive the fewest number of vacation days.

For over 20 years (22 years and counting to be exact), the Vacation Deprivation study examined the work-life balance of people worldwide and, most importantly, how to overcome the barriers that keep vacation days unused. While the line between time on and off the clock felt thin last year, people are making a global movement to change that as they look forward.

Let’s break down the report further.

Vacation deprivation might be related to gender, age and occupation: When looking at men versus women, women were slightly more vacation deprived and burned out than men. The younger generations, Gen Z and Millennials were significantly more vacation deprived and burned out than those 50 and older. Now, what about those that don’t always have flexible options? Unsurprisingly, first responders were at the top of the list for both vacation deprivation and burnout while frontline workers were close behind.

Vacations improve mental health: 88% of people in the U.S. reported feeling more relaxed and less anxious and worried after a vacation and the same amount of people reported feeling more optimistic and positive after a vacation.

America’s obsession with productivity might be changing: One-in-four took time off but didn’t travel away from home in 2021 and nearly a third plan to do the same in 2022.

Companies remain supportive for the most part: On average, Americans used three vacation days to take care of a sick family member or run errands (such as going to a doctor’s appointment). Thankfully, over half were provided exceptions to work from different locations or have additional flexibility and 78% feel their employers are supportive of people taking vacation time.

People are slowly but surely adapting to the new normal: While 61% cancelled their vacations due to Covid-19 in 2020, less than half cancelled their vacations in 2021 due to the pandemic.

So, what does this all mean as we look at 2022? People are ready, beyond ready, to prioritize the things that matter (hint: it’s not work!) by giving themselves permission to PTO. In fact, Americans vowed to take two full weeks of vacation days in 2022, nearly three more days than they took in 2021. They’re also more likely to splurge on their next trip, take longer trips and even book backup trips to ensure their vacation happens no matter what. Almost all agree that regular vacations are important to general health and well-being and value vacation time more than ever.

Before you plan out your next vacation, remember to pursue what makes you happy. From making memories with your loved ones to spending some solid alone time on a beach somewhere, create the experiences you want, how you want, where you want. You just need to break a few bad habits. But don’t worry, we’re here to rewrite the rules of vacation together:

Staying glued to work: Even though most Americans enjoy feeling unproductive during vacations, half still brought their work laptops and 41% frequently joined Zoom calls. Further, half spent vacation time doing a “side hustle.”

Save the hustle for Monday: Or Tuesday, or whenever you come back from vacation. Work will still be there when you come back – make that a tomorrow problem.

Overextending yourself: 63% of Americans put their cell phone numbers in their OOO work emails or gave them to coworkers or clients.

Set and re-set boundaries: Let’s eliminate “call or text me if you need anything” from our vacation vocabulary, and auto-correct to “I’ll get back to you upon my return.” In fact, go to settings > notifications then toggle off. Delete your work email account and put your phone on “do not disturb.”

Treating vacation days like your savings account: More than one-in-10 people saved some of their vacation days to use next year.

Don’t leave any days behind: You earned it, you deserve it, and most times … you need it. Why collect your time off like trading cards? Seize the moment and give yourself the time you need now to take a break, relax and recharge.

Being too hard on yourself: Although 80% feel their colleagues are supportive of them taking vacations, over half feel guilty having coworkers covering work while they are out and 44% feel the need to apologize or make excuses for taking vacation time.

Give yourself permission to PTO: Take a deep breath and release that anxious energy. Gone are the days when you feel guilty for taking some time for yourself. Whether you’re headed to the beach with family to unplug from all screens or are curling up to a good book for a little self-care – that time is yours! Use it.

Don’t forget that you can get more out of every trip and save on the things that matter through Expedia Rewards. Sign up for an Expedia account to get instant access to savings worth 10% or more on thousands of hotels, thanks to Member Pricing.

With COVID-19, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest travel guidance and restrictions. Find out what to expect, how to find flexible travel and other information on our COVID-19 travel guide.

*Vacation Deprivation study was conducted online among 14,544 respondents across 16 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Commissioned from December 14 – December 30, 2021, on behalf of Expedia by Northstar Research Partners, responses were gathered using an amalgamated group of best-in-class panels.