One-in-Four Workers Can’t Afford to Take a Vacation, CareerBuilder Survey Finds

Published: Jul 17, 2019
Modified: Mar 25, 2020

By CareerBuilder

A recent study from CareerBuilder shows financial constraints and demanding work schedules have some workers foregoing vacation plans this year. Twenty-four percent of full-time workers reported they can’t afford to take a vacation in 2011, up from 21% last year. Another 12% reported they can afford a vacation, but don’t have plans to take one this year. More than 5,600 workers participated in the nationwide study, which was conducted from February 21 to March 10, 2011.

While the majority of workers are planning some time away from work, three-in-ten plan to take the office with them on vacation. Thirty percent reported they will contact work while on vacation, up from 25% last year.

“Taking advantage of vacation or paid-time-off benefits is critical not only to your well-being, but to your overall job performance,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Workers who set aside time for R&R tend to have less burnout, more creative energy, and higher quality output. While financial challenges and heavy workloads may make vacation planning difficult, it’s important to find time to recharge away or at home. It can ultimately translate into a more gratifying work experience that benefits you, your family, and your employer.”

As the economy heals, more than one-third (36%) of workers reported that they feel more comfortable taking a vacation than they did in 2010. One-in-four (26%) are planning a vacation of 7 to 10 days while 11% expect to be gone 2 weeks or longer. Twenty-four percent are planning for 3 to 5 days or a weekend getaway.

Haefner recommends the following tips to make the most of your time off:

1. Give plenty of notice—24% of workers reported they have had to work while their family went on vacation without them. Coordinate schedules with family and friends and co-workers as early in advance as possible, so you can plan vacations before/after big projects and events.
2. Don’t take a guilt trip—12% of workers reported they feel guilty that they’re not at work while they’re on vacation. Your vacation benefits are there for a reason. Enjoy yourself. The work will still be there when you return.
3. Ask about discounts—Many employers offer discounts on personal entertainment and travel for employees that may make vacation plans more affordable. Check out the company intranet or contact HR for more information.
4. Make sure you’re covered—Buddy up with other co-workers to cross-train one another on responsibilities, upcoming deadlines, key contacts, where information is stored, and so on. If your company may need to contact you for something while on vacation, make sure to set parameters on when you’ll be available and stick to them.
5. Use ‘em or lose ‘em—16% of workers reported they gave up vacation days in 2010 because they didn’t have time to use them. If you can’t take a number of days at once, consider taking a day here and there for extended weekends or mid-week breaks.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 5,671 U.S. workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government); ages 18 and over between February 21 and March 10, 2011 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset of U.S. employees, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 5,671, one could say with a 95% probability that the overall results have a sampling error of /- 1.30 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About the Author(s)

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset: their people. For more information, visit