Do Americans have a 'Right to Vacation'?

Do you laugh when someone says, ‘let’s do lunch’? You do if you’re a typical American worker bee, slaving away in a cubicle littered with vending machine sandwich wrappers because you never leave your desk for lunch.

Vacation: U.S. vs. Europe

Most of us don’t even take all the vacation we’re entitled to; something like 60 percent leave days-off on the table. Not that we get that many to begin with, certainly not compared to Europe. Did you know a typical German worker enjoys six weeks of vacation? And that isn’t counting national holidays.

So where does that leave us? Pondering how to take advantage of the Declaration of Independence’s inalienable right to the “pursuit of happiness.” Does that right extend to vacation?

Studies show, we need time off. Too much work and the resulting stress can lead to depression, heart attacks and more. Now ask someone you know (if you dare) why they were laid off in the latest round of job cuts and I’ll bet it wasn’t because they didn’t put in enough overtime.

So do you have a right to vacation? I think so, but it goes beyond that. We humans need vacations like we need oxygen – not just to recharge, but to live.

Q. So is there a ‘right to vacation’?

A. If not, there ought to be. And maybe we should drop the word right and call it a need since everyone needs time away from work. There have been so many studies proving what everyone already knows: too much work can harm our health and make us less productive.

7 Ways to Screw Up Summer Vacation Travel

Case in point: a recent report about an apparently sleep-deprived pilot for Air Canada who apparently woke somewhat disoriented from an authorized nap during a flight last year, then nose-dived his plane to avoid a mid-air collision with what he thought was another aircraft; the other aircraft turned out to be the planet Venus.

Six Cheaper Destinations for Summer

Q. Do Americans get as much vacations as others?

A. In some cases yes, but many countries in Europe offer far more days off. In Germany, for example, many workers get six weeks vacation time, plus national holidays. U.S. workers do get some vacation, but not everyone takes it – one study says 57 percent of U.S. workers don’t take all they days they’re authorized too – but maybe it’s time they did.

When to Buy Summer Vacation Flights

Q. But vacation flights are so expensive this year – what can you do?

A. Shop smart and shop early Look at the cheapest destinations for this summer. And know that the best time to buy is typically a window of time that lasts from about three months before departure until two or three weeks before you take-off – but this year, we’re advising people to buy early in that window. If you wait too long, you might pay too much.


Published: April 18, 2012