We Can All Use a Little Time Off: How to Unplug from Work While on Vacation

Quiz time!

When it comes to using vacation time, do you:

  1. Put off planning your vacation and never quite get around to taking one
  2.  Use up every last vacation day you’ve earned

Don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong answer, so you can tell me.

If you answered number one, you’ve got plenty of company.

A new survey by Glassdoor revealed that, of the U.S. workers who get vacation time or paid time off, those employees, on average, only take about half of their allotted time.

If you answered number two, I have another question for you.

Do you unplug from work when you’re on vacation, or do you still check your messages and email?

Still check your messages? So do two out of three Americans Glassdoor surveyed (including me!).

Unplugging is hard to do, and sometimes our workplaces can make it even harder. Roughly 29% of employees have been contacted by a coworker while on vacation, and 25% say they’ve been contacted by the boss (that’s an email you have to answer, right?).

“While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits,” said Glassdoor chief human resources officer Carmel Galvin. “It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized.”

The survey also found some workers think taking vacation time may cost them a promotion or raise (though sometimes the opposite may be true).

If you need incentive to leave your laptop behind next time you take time off, consider this: around 14% of survey respondents said family members have complained when they saw them working on vacation.

But if your vacation partner constantly has their nose in their work email instead of relaxing, they might feel like they have a good reason for it.

Project: Time Off looked into what drives people to work while on vacation and discovered something interesting.

A quarter of the workers they surveyed said they’re afraid taking time off will make them seem less dedicated to their job or that it would show how easily someone else could do their work.

“More than anything else, it’s this fear that ‘I could be seen as replaceable,’” said Katie Denis, senior director at Project: Time Off. “We have these post-recession fears that still linger.”

How to Take a Vacation to Remember

When you’re ready to relax and get away from it all, you’ve got a lot of options that don’t cost a lot of money.

How to Take a Staycation to Remember

It can be hard to save for a vacation when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. These ideas can help you make the most of the time you have off right in your own hometown.

Whether you stay home or jet off somewhere exotic, it’s important to unplug once in a while, de-stress and maybe practice a little mindfulness.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves to travel but sometimes nothing beats a quiet weekend at home. Unplugged, of course.