America’s vacation behavior is changing—and for the better.

Employers are showing signs of having more encouraging vacation cultures, and employees are feeling more confident about using the time they earn. There is still a long way to go, with more than half of Americans leaving vacation time on the table. In analyzing how vacation time was spent, the data shows an unmistakably strong correlation between travel and happiness that forces the question, does the function of the time or the time itself have a greater impact?

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.


705 million

Total unused vacation days annually

American workers accumulated 705 million unused days in 2017, up from 662 million days the year before. 

52 %

American employees with unused vacation time

52 percent of employees reported having unused vacation days at the end of 2017.


Average number of vacation days taken in 2017

Americans used nearly a half-day (.4 days) more of vacation than the previous year, bringing the national average up to 17.2 vacation days taken per employee. 

212 million

Vacation days get forfeited annually

In 2017,  Americans forfeited 212 million days, which is equivalent to $62.2 billion in lost benefits.