According to new research, Colorado, Virginia, and Arizona lead the country in vacation days used, while residents of Montana, Delaware, and Rhode Island are at the bottom of the pack. Last year, Americans used 17.2 vacation days, the most since 2010. Despite this marked improvement, 52 percent of employees reported leaving vacation days unused at the end of the year. The new report, Under-Vacationed America: A State-by-State Look at Time Off and Travel, provides a look at vacation behavior in all 50 states.

Virginia takes the top spot when it comes to vacation days spent traveling. Virginians spend 12.2 of the vacation days they take traveling, significantly higher than the American average of eight days. Colorado (11.7 days) and New Jersey (11.1 days) round out the top three.

“Not all days off have equal benefit,” said Project: Time Off Vice President Katie Denis. “Our studies have shown that employees who use their vacation days for travel are significantly happier than the ones who spend their days off close to home, and that holds true at the state level too.”

In South Dakota, where employees use a national low of 4.3 of their vacation days traveling, just 20 percent of workers report being happy with their health and well-being. That number is almost 30 points below the national average of 49 percent. Missouri (5.2 days) and Iowa (5.4 days) round out the bottom three.

When Americans do get out of the office, employees in Indiana and Michigan are most likely to leave their work behind. Hoosiers and Michiganders take the claim of most unplugged states, with 60 and 52 percent of employees, respectively, saying they do not check in while on vacation. Compare that to Washington, D.C., where just 13 percent of employees unplug, half as many as Virginia, which is second from the bottom at 26 percent, followed by Nebraska (27%) and Connecticut (27%) not far behind.

Additional Findings

  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans say they prefer to indulge than be healthy on vacation.
  • Americans are split on whether they prefer to save or splurge on vacations—just over half (52%) say save and just under half (47%) say splurge.
  • The traditional week-long trip is still the gold standard for most Americans, with 72 percent saying they prefer that length over a long-weekend vacation.

“Whether they choose snow or sand, disconnecting or checking in, lush hotels or log cabins, Americans who spend their vacation days traveling are more likely to get the greatest benefit from their time off,” Denis added.


GfK conducted an online survey from January 4-23, 2018 with 4,349 American workers, age 18+, who work more than 35 hours a week and receive paid time off from their employer. For a complete methodology and 50-state ranking, visit the report page.

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 is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.


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