Every year more than half (54 percent) of American workers fail to use their earned vacation time, leaving a staggering 662 million vacation days on the table. Those unused days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016 due to lost spending.

However, there is a bright side to all this—and a major opportunity for the travel industry. Recent research shows that planning is the golden ticket for getting workers out of the office and on vacation. According to the recent State of American Vacation 2017 report, workers who plan their vacation time in advance are more likely to take their earned time off, and take longer breaks at that:

  • In 2016, 52 percent of vacation planners used all of their time off, compared to 40 percent of non-planners. 

  • While three in four (75 percent) vacation planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days at once—zero to three—than planners (42 percent to 18 percent).

The benefits of planning extend well beyond the days spent away from the office. Planners report greater overall happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job.

To get more Americans planning, Project: Time Off is urging workers to save the date for National Plan for Vacation Day on January 30, 2018. This national observance is an opportunity for the travel industry to remind Americans to choose travel in 2018, for the sake of their health and well-being—and to start planning for it.

The first-ever National Plan for Vacation Day in 2017 saw more than 600 organizations share the message in unique ways. With a new toolkit, Project: Time Off has made participating easier than ever for 2018. Here are five ideas to get you started.

Five Ways to Celebrate

  • Engage on social media using #PlanForVacation. Consider a Twitter Chat, Facebook Live event, or Instagram Story to reach multiple audiences. Do you have blogger or influencer contacts? Get them on board! The toolkit contains customizable social posts that can be altered to fit your voice. For more ideas, check our talking points and promotional videos featuring TV host and travel expert Samantha Brown. 
  • Leverage Project: Time Off’s research to engage media and your target audiences. Learn about the vacation habits of your state or city with our Under-vacationed America map. Want more on planning? Look out for the new Power of Planning report that will be released on January 30.
  • Encourage site visitors to proactively plan for vacation using your itineraries and Project: Time Off’s new calendar tool. The tool can be embedded onto your site allowing users to enter earned days, plot out time off, and export it to their own calendars or share with others.
  • Strike a deal with travelers who make plans early. Project: Time Off found that those who plan are more likely to take a week vacation or longer. Consider offering a deal or promotion for longer bookings.
  • Practice what you preach by encouraging planning in your homes and workplaces. Organize a planning event or set aside time to build out your calendar with family and friends.

Join the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off on Tuesday, January 30 to help make National Plan for Vacation Day 2018 count for you. 


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.