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A photograph of a Smoky Mountain getaway with half of the picture in black and white.

50% of Paid Vacation Days Go to Waste Each Year: How a Smoky Mountain Getaway Can Help

Here at Visit My Smokies, we take vacations seriously – it’s our job after all! So when a recent study found that Americans only use half of their paid vacation days, we were dumbfounded. Why would anyone leave paid time off on the table?

After our initial shock wore off, we decided we had to do something. To help illustrate what a wasted vacation day in the Smoky Mountains looks like, we put together this video:  

The Numbers

When you look at the mountain of research conducted on our nation’s vacation habits, you encounter some frightening statistics. Here are just a few of the most distressing findings:

  • As mentioned above, American workers only use about 50% of their paid vacation time and paid time off.
  • According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, U.S. employees waste an average of over $1,300 by only taking half of their paid vacation time. As a country, this adds up to $52.4 billion.
  • 42% of workers don’t take any vacation days at all.
  • Compared to Europe, the United States is an anomaly when it comes to taking vacations. For instance, 75% of British workers take all of their eligible time off, as do 71% of German workers.  
  • American vacation time has hit a 40 year low. From 1976 – 2000, workers used about 20 vacation days a year. Today, the median number of paid vacation days in the U.S. is just 12.

The ConsequencesA young woman with her hands in the air as the sun shines behind the mountains.

Not taking enough vacation time can have a real impact on your health and general well being. Here are just a few of the benefits of getting away from the office:

  • Taking regular vacations has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including lower blood pressure, healthy weight management, a stronger immune system, and lower risk of heart disease. One study found that vacationing can cut the chance of having a heart attack by 32% for men and 50% for women.

         (See Also: How Vacationing in the Smoky Mountains Will Benefit Your Health)

  • Taking a vacation reduces stress and improves your mood. According to one study, women who get away from work on a regular basis are three times less likely to suffer from depression.
  • Many people who take vacations report feeling better about their job and being more productive after returning from their trip.

In addition to all of these benefits, vacations provide important time with your family away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As you can see in the video embedded above, each minute of a Smoky Mountain getaway is truly precious. When you give up a vacation day, you’re not just giving up time off from work; you’re giving up a day of laughter, fun, and memories with the people you love the most. Would you really rather be at the office?   

A happy family of four hiking in the woods with backpacks.The Solution

The solution to America’s vacation woes seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? If you’re entitled to paid vacation time, you should go ahead and take it! Unfortunately, some people complicate this issue with a variety of excuses and concerns. To help convince any of the naysayers in your family, we’ve put together responses to some of the most common reasons people fail to take a vacation.

I’d love to take a vacation, but it’s just too expensive.   

Taking a Smoky Mountain getaway is actually a lot more affordable than you might think! Sevier County is just a day’s drive from 60% of the nation’s population, so it’s likely that you won’t have to dole out the big bucks on expensive airline travel. The area’s most popular attraction, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is completely free to enter, so you’ll have hours upon hours of entertainment to take advantage of.

Lodging is typically the single biggest vacation expense, but with a little research, it’s not hard to find cabin rentals for under $100 per night. For some great advice on where to stay, check out our blog about 5 Ways to Make Smoky Mountain Cabin Rentals Cheap for Your Vacation.  

I can’t get away during the summer.

While the summer is a great time to visit the Smokies, it is by no means the only time for a vacation. Every season offers something special to see in the Great Smoky Mountains so there is truly no bad time to visit. Whether you’re looking for unparalleled fall foliage, beautiful snow capped mountains, meadows of wildflowers, or sunny skies, you can find them in Sevier County – you just have to come at the right time of year! To help you decide when to take your vacation, read our blog about The Best Time to Visit the Smoky Mountains.    

Planning a vacation is too much work.Sunset in the Great Smoky Mountains.

People who feel overwhelmed when planning a Smoky Mountain getaway are in luck, because the Visit My Smokies website has everything you need to easily map out your trip! Our team of vacation experts has put together guides to attractions, shopping, dining, events, lodging, and anything else you could possibly want to know about the Smoky Mountain area.

To start planning your getaway, browse our complete listing of Places to Stay in the Smoky Mountains!