An eye-opening new poll finds that Americans spend a significant part of their hard-earned vacation time on other people’s milestones – when they’d really rather save it for themselves
Weddings, birthdays, baby showers: it’s easy to squander your precious vacation time on social obligations. And for hard-working Americans, with an average paid leave that is already limited compared to other advanced economies, this added burden may be the source of secret resentment.
A new survey by Flash Pack shows that 80% of Americans would rather spend their vacation time on themselves as opposed to celebrating other people’s milestones: but we simply don’t know how to say no.
The research by third party research firm Mortar found that, on average, 3.5 of our paid days off are being devoted to social events such as bachelorette or anniversary parties. With a typical American being granted 10 days off in total per year, that means we’re spending a hefty 35% of vacation time on other people.
The study questioned 1,000 randomly men and women aged 18-65 of all income brackets and regions across the US. Respondents had attended an average of 30 events over the past three years, including:
- 4 local weddings
- 4 destination weddings
- 7 birthday celebrations
- 4 baby showers
- 6 bachelor/bachelorette parties
- 5 anniversary parties
Americans devote 35% of their vacation time to other people’s events
Wedding commitments are especially pronounced among those aged 25 to 44: 61% of people in this age group attended up to 10 weddings in the past three years, and 34% traveled to four destination weddings in the same time period.
The data suggests Americans want to limit the amount of vacation time they spend on these engagements; but we lack confidence in knowing how to draw the line.
Nearly a third of respondents have lied to get out of going to events, a fifth of people feel anxious about receiving invitations they don’t want to accept and roughly the same amount wish they were able to RSVP no – but inevitably end up saying yes.
Of course, celebrating other people’s events is a central and rewarding part of life. But this research indicates that we need to learn how to better safeguard our vacation time, and become more comfortable in saying no for the sake of ourselves.
We want more time to ourselves but don’t know how to say no
Nicole Gonshorowski, 30, from Minneapolis, says she learnt this lesson the hard way after becoming burnt out juggling her friends’ wedding showers, rehearsal dinners and ceremonies in her precious time off from studying at law school. It was solo travel that eventually offered her an escape route from this all-too-common dilemma.
“Throughout my life I have watched members of my family (particularly women) give every single ounce of their energy to others, be it kids or friends or co-workers,” she says.
“This has led both my mom and my sister to develop anxiety disorders. I found myself falling into the same trap in my early 20s. Trying to do everything and be everything for everyone.
“It wasn’t until the experience I previously shared with the weddings that I realized, I was doing all of this for the happiness of others and was quickly losing any hope at happiness myself. I had to change and quick. I reset expectations with my friends, family, and even myself. Solo travel has become a huge part of how I am continuing to overcome the need to please others, and instead do something for me.”
Solo travel can be a great way of reclaiming your precious days off
Lee Thompson, co-founder of Flash Pack, agrees that this is a familiar situation for the company’s global community of solo travelers in their 30s and 40s; and one best addressed by the concept of adventure.
“You have this long summer stretch ahead of you but before you know it, every other weekend is being spent at a wedding, a birthday BBQ or a bachelorette party,” he notes.
“These events are great, of course. But they also mean that, in a life that’s already bursting at the seams, you’re frittering away all your spare time and money on other people’s dreams. This summer, we’re encouraging people to be a little more positively selfish. Do the things that YOU want to do. Travel the world, meet new friends push your comfort zone. Reclaim your precious vacation time.”
By learning to say no, you regain control over your rare days off – and the world opens up as a result.