American Vacation Policy Fails Again

travel is the only thing

I am a traveler. I also have a full time job as a meeting/event planner.  I am a bit of a workaholic.  I love what I do. I also love to travel.

There has been many a discussion regarding how infrequently American’s travel. How we work to much and lose money each year by not taking those 2 weeks of vacation the corporate world has allowed us to earn..  There is even a  MasterCard commercial about it!

What I have figured out is that it is hard to take a proper vacation with only 10 vacation days allotted to us each year.  Relaxing vacations to a beach location can yes happily occur with only 10 vacation days a year. But a true trip, the ability to actually see and explore the vastness that is Planet Earth – 10 days per year is definitely not enough.

I am single, I have no children, very little over head and bills I pay off each month. I can afford to travel.  I NEED to travel. Yet I run up against a vacation policy that isn’t very forgiving when it comes to grand trips, experiences, adventures.

In the past 8 years, I have spent 2 weeks in Italy, 2 weeks in China, and 2 weeks in South Africa.  At the time of each trip, I was freelancing.  I worked as an independent contractor for meeting & event planning companies. I may have ‘lost’ money by taking each trip because I wasn’t working as a salaried employee, so I was not given paid time off (PTO). In the long run, I am ok with that, I gained so much more by the experiences I had, the things I saw, the things I ate, the people I met, the world I ventured in to.

However, in addition to those trips, since I was freelancing and working remotely at the time, I was able to take a few other shorter trips throughout the year: a long weekend in Maryland, a long weekend in Las Vegas, wherever I wanted to go I was able to. I could easily take my work with me.  However, had I been working full time and not freelancing, I most likely would not been able to do that as I would have used up all 10 of my days.

We are an overworked society that places to much emphasis on learning and working then on experiencing the world, or even our own country.  Case in point, if you haven’t already seen the letter floating around social media from the father back to the school principal regarding his children’s “unexcused” absences so the father could run the Boston Marathon! (Yes, there is not scandal within the running community as he may not have legitimately qualified for the Boston Marathon)

American’s have falsely been labeled as non-travelers.  This is probably because it has been said how few passports American’s as a whole actually hold.  A 2011 article on CNN informs that only 30% of all American’s hold a passport.  I can believe this number.

Truth be told, our country is a phenomenal one.  The amount of things to see and experience are astounding.  Each state has its own historical value to showcase, even if it is not as historically long as many other countries around the world; each state, each city in America has it’s own historical flare.

IMAG3027We have our National Park system, we have various national landmarks or monuments scattered around the country.  There is plenty to see domestically, but we just do not put a priority on see it all, we put the priority on working long hours, on making more money then your neighbor.

To push that point home even more, according to an article in the Atlantic (The Only Advanced Country Without National Vacation Policy? It’s the US), America practically the only developed country that does not have laws in place requiring a certain amount of paid time off per year.

Every time I travel, I run in to folks from countries with amazing vacation policies thus allowing their citizens to take a two weeks grand trip somewhere and still have vacation days left over for shorter trips somewhere else!

There are now some companies that are giving unlimited PTO.  This can be a double edge treat. To me this can mean the work is going to so continuous that the employee will not actually get to use their unlimited PTO?

Why do we put so little value on traveling and vacationing while the rest of the world is always out there seeing it all?  Is it because back in day when the country started there was a bit of an isolationist mentality? Is it because of how high a premium we put on making/having money?

This article on CNN, Why is American the ‘No-Vacation’ Nation?, puts everything in to nice little boxes of why we don’t do it and why the rest of the world embraces it.  A large part has to do with our limited vacation time compared to countries like German or New Zealand who are given 6 weeks vacation a year, from day 1 at the job.  This is in addition to the national holidays they are given.

How did our super advanced, democratic championed nation lose the focus of how important vacation and travel is.  Now only in terms of relaxing and decompressing, but for those with children, for educational purposes, for learning about other cultures, other historys, other lands.

As I noted in the image above, Travel is the only you BUY that makes in RICHER in the end.

What are you next big trips planned?
I’m working in either a Mediterranean Cruise, Iceland, Peru, some good old American Road trips…I just can’t decide, and I’m not sure I have enough PTO to handle all of that (even though I do work remotely, and wouldn’t mind working while away, to a certain extent, I still want to SEE the places I venture to!)

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