12 thoughts on “Do Americans need more vacation?

  1. James Lee

    The views you state represent such a small segment of our society! On-line chatting, on-line encyclopedia writing! What percentage of Americans are you talking about? Broaden your horizons beyond the top 1% demographic and you will find what I know to be true for my European friends: They spend time with family, on in-country driving vacations (good for the economy), home improvement (ditto), and general “serenity building” however you define it. More vacation = happier workers = more productivity. Simple and proven.

  2. Vicky Howe

    I definitely agree that we don’t need more time to play video games and watch TV, however, I think we need to clarify the type of time off we would like to defend rather than clarify the demographic of the subjects being discussed. The structure of the time off makes a big difference in how that time is spent. If people have one extra hour a day (ie. a shorter work day), yes they might spend that hour watching TV because there aren’t many vacations you can take in that one hour a day. Even a 35 hour work week doesn’t help much as that still means you are in the office 5 days a week and have 2 weekend days totally free (still not enough time to take much of a vacation, although probably enough time to do some volunteer work or study a new language). I would personally lobby to work longer days and longer weeks (some of us already do) if it meant being able to take a month-long, guilt-free vacation every year to do something interesting and educational like tour southeast asia or hike Kilimanjaro rather than spending our shorter work day watching it on the Discovery Channel.

  3. Roger Kibbe

    Your views seem overly simplistic.
    – Americans spend free time watching TV (and playing video games)
    – Americans want more vacation time
    – Therefore Americans will spend additional vacation time watching TV
    This syllogism fails for two reasons.
    One you confuse “free time” with vacation time. The free time spent watching TV is time after work and on weekends. A few hours of “free time” is entirely different than a few weeks of vacation time. Vacation time opens up the vistas of extended travel, family and educational experiences that are incomparable with a few hours after a long day at the office.
    Secondly, I would turn the whole argument on it’s head. Why do American’s watch so much TV and play so many video games? They do it because they are escaping their mind dulling work which offers them little vacation time to escape and enjoy the finer things in life (family, friends, experiencing other cultures etc, etc). The old saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is apropos here. A mind dulled by constant work turns away from intellectual/creative pursuits (reading, art etc) and away from social pursuits (family and friends) to the anti-intellectual, anti-social pursuits like TV and video games. A mind given free time to explore the world outside of work is a hungry mind, a mind hungry for interesting and new experiences.
    The fact is, Americans are incredibly overworked. Our relatively poor health and lack of intellectual and social interests, are a direct result of placing the almighty work above all else in our lives. A healthy work/life balance is something Europeans (as one example) strive mightly to achieve. Our young culture has much to learn from older cultures which have put work in its proper place in one’s psyche. What a dynamic combination all of the great things in our culture would make with a few lessons from the “old country.”

  4. nancy

    Auren makes a value judgment about leisure time (some leisure good, some leisure bad), but he does not make any critical assessment of the value of work. He says “get back to work” as if that’s automatically a worthwhile thing to do. Most jobs – particularly the higher paying ones – do not benefit society. Most of us who’ve worked in the white collar world will attest to a lack of purpose beyond just trying to make more money. Many (most?) jobs are actually destructive – particularly to the environment. We have to try and convince more and more people to buy more and more stuff just to keep us employed.
    As much of a waste as TV may be, it is not nearly as much of a waste as my job.
    Let’s give people the time and see what happens. Sure, some people will squander time. People squander their youth, their freedom, their citizenship rights… that’s no excuse for having them taken away by force.

  5. Christian Buckley

    Sure, I’d love more vacation time – but I don’t think a change to the number of vacation days necessarily means an increase in the quality of activities, as you’ve pointed out. What you do with the time you have with your family or friends has little to do with the AMOUNT of time you have, and everything to do with your own priorities and desire to build healthy extracurricular habits. Look at the logic here – portraying more time off as a solution to the problems of our overworked society makes about as much sense as more tax dollars to solve every societal problem. Make better use of what you have!

  6. vinod

    Actually, one of the things that’s been pretty systemically documented by “international compensation consultants” is that the average US worker prefer a higher salary vs. more vacation and that this trend positively varies as you move UP the income ladder (e.g. we’ve rediscovered something that Adam Smith could have told us all along…. richer folks work more hours on average than poorer ones).

  7. Bruno Behrend

    I am compelled to respond every time I hear the question of “whether Americans have enough vacation.”
    Invariably, the discussion wanders around the issue of whether or not people need two weeks, four weeks, or (as in France and Germany) a mandated six weeks of vacation.
    Here is a radical answer for such a question. If one wants more vacation, why don’t they ask for it? Let’s say you get an offer for $90,000 a year and two weeks vacation. Why not counter with $90,000 a year and four weeks vacation? You can even go to the interview armed with three or four articles showing that people who work 48 weeks a year are as (or more) productive as people who work 50 weeks.
    As an entrepreneur, I realize that it may be difficult for everyone to have as flexible of a schedule is I have been able to create for myself. However, I find it significant (and somewhat ominous) that Americans have begun to ask their unions, their companies, or (heaven forbid) their government to provide enough vacation time for them. To me, this is just another indicator of how “collectivist” we have become in our thinking.
    But alas, instead of being this enlightened, we’re heading toward a world with mandated paid family leave, mandated fertility coverage, and mandated coverage for “treating” character flaws — now called “disabilities.” Having recently visited the achingly beautiful Bay Area and Marin County, I noticed how advanced you all are out there. Perhaps, in your wisdom, you could just cut to the chase and pass legislation mandating that we all be happy, healthy, and wise.
    I apologize for the sarcasm.

  8. Anonymous

    The reasons people are given vacations include (and usually revolve around) giving them a chance to live their lives the way they want to be lived. They vacation in their own way to recharge, refresh, and, ideally, come back to work ready to be productive and happy in what they do. Coming from a man who once said that our 12+ hour workdays weren’t enough, I am not surprised that you would rather call out for people to “get back to work” rather than spend *their* time doing what *they* enjoy. Spending time with families and bonding with kids are extremely important in an age where kids and families are tossed aside like yesterday’s paper. So what if it includes TV and Video Games? Hiking, Biking, travel… all of these could be considered less than productive, depending on who you ask. Who are you to say… who are any of us to say… what should be done on one’s own time?

  9. Lizz Quain

    You stated that people spend their much of free time watching TV. But isn’t that different than vacation time? Because I understand that people spend their time after work or over the weekend watching TV but
    don’t people generally plan to get away from home (and the TV) and go someplace with family, friends or solo during their vacations? And instead of watching TV in their hotel rooms, don’t they go to the beach, have dinner with friends, learn a new sport, camp in the wild, play with their kids, learn about new cultures, languages and make new friends etc.?
    I can only say from my own personal experience from taking two travel/language sabbaticals and visiting 37 countries throughout 5 continents (yes, I am a rare American) that my fellow travelers (of all nationalities) did not stay in their hotel rooms and watch TV. They joined me in trekking in the Himalayas, riding elephants through the Thai jungles, scuba diving through tropical reefs, climbing ancient Mayan and Khmer ruins, skiing, paragliding and canyoning in the Alps, visiting world wonders, learning a new language, wandering through countless museums, churches, temples etc., haggling over the price of a trinket in a souk, sampling exotic cuisines in the country in which it originated, dancing the night away in posh (and grungy) discos (I recall two nights in Madrid boogieing with you Auren), watching the sunset/sunrise over the Andaman, Adriatic, Indonesian and Caribbean seas, falling in (and out) of love with a handsome foreigner, swimming with dolphins, sharks and giant turtles, meeting people from all over the world and from all walks of life and discussing politics, religion and life in general, and MUCH MORE! More than just watching TV.
    So Auren, I have to disagree with you on that point. When you’re on your deathbed, do you want to look back on your life and think “Gee I should have spent more time working, made more money, climbed another rung on that corporate ladder etc?” or do you want to think “I’ve traveled, I’ve experienced, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve cherished my friends and family… I have LIVED!”? We have something to learn from our French (and Australian, Danish, Irish etc.) friends about taking a break, recharging our batteries and enriching our souls. Do yourself a favor Auren, take a vacation, please!

  10. Brenda

    I think we really need more free time.I am a Chinese student from Nanjing.We really need more free time and more vocation and less homework.During the national vocation,most of us just stay at home and do my homework and study.We really free very bored and tired!!!

  11. you~know~me

    i am a american student from san antonio think about it everyday pepole are going wake at 5:00 or 6:00 or 4:00 just for school pepole need more sleep expesly prek 1 st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th and all the ather grades

  12. Rachel

    My husband is foreign from two nationalities- Germany and Egypt- he holds duel passports. After speaking with his family and his friends overseas-they both are shocked and actually think its cruel how little vacation time Americans are allotted. I agree, I think a lot of social problems in America could be fixed if people weren’t so overworked and stressed out.


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