If three is a trend, State of American Vacation 2018 proves the latest trend is taking more time off. 

American vacation usage rose for the third straight year, hitting an average of 17.2 days after bottoming out in 2014 at 16 days. 

media soav18_vacationtrendline.jpg

Not only does this year’s increase mean we’ve gained more than a full day since our lowest point, but it is also the highest we’ve seen vacation usage since 2010. When U.S. Travel created Project: Time Off five years ago, seeing this unfortunate trend start to reverse was our hope and intent, and we are excited by the evidence of real change.

Now, we need travel to capitalize on that change. The $837 billion spent by domestic leisure travelers in 2016 accounts for 84% of industry expenditures, and it is an area ripe for growth. The increase in average vacation usage generated $31 billion in economic activity last year alone. And there’s still $255 billion in potential impact if we can get Americans to use the 705 million vacation days they left on the table in 2017.

But of all the data in this year’s State of American Vacation, the number to focus on is eight.

Just eight of the 17.2 days Americans took off last year were used for travel vacations.

With less than half of our vacation days devoted to travel, it’s no surprise that nearly nine in ten Americans say they haven’t seen enough of their own country. The majority (54 percent) have been to just two or fewer national parks.

America’s travel deficit is an obvious problem for the travel industry. It is also a problem for individual Americans and their families—and they may not realize just how significant it is.

“Mega-travelers,” who travel with all or most of their vacation time, enjoy greater happiness in their lives. They are 20 percent happier with their personal relationships and 56 percent happier with their health and well-being than those who travel with little or none of their vacation time.

At work, too, these mega-travelers are enjoying greater success. They are 28 percent happier with their companies and 24 percent happier with their jobs than those that travel with little to none of their vacation days. They are also 18 percent more likely to report receiving a recent promotion.

When we deny ourselves travel, there are profound consequences. The travel industry is uniquely positioned to help Americans take advantage of the experiences, moments and memories travel provides.

Let’s get out there and spread the word on the importance of travel. Everyone has a stake in the upward momentum of vacation usage and making eight travel days a number of the past. 

The growth of domestic travel is central to U.S. Travel’s overall mission. We support policies to improve travel infrastructure and national parks, among others, and foster programs and research that encourage increased domestic travel.

In the fall of 2018, U.S. Travel folded its domestic leisure-focused Project: Time Off initiative into an expanded public affairs portfolio, enhancing the association’s advocacy and research on domestic travel. Analysis that informs and advances this area of focus—including tracking America’s vacation usage and its benefits to travelers—is included in U.S. Travel’s research and messaging platforms for our members’ use and in support of activations such as National Plan for Vacation Day.

U.S. Travel Association

For more information about this blog, please contact us at: