Today is the first day of summer break and already the Nerf gun battles have commenced. After a long school year it’s nice to see Trevor having fun with friends and enjoying unstructured time off. As adults we also need similar breaks, but being a no vacation nation, we are lucky to get a week off at any given time. Do you know that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation? Yep, compared to other OECD Nations who have set statutory minimum annual leave time (average 20-25 days per year), the U.S. has none. Nada. Nothing.
The No Vacation Nation Revisited Report also says that a quarter of Americans have no paid vacation time or paid holidays. And those who work in the private sector average only about 10 paid vacation days per year. Compare that to Austria where legally every citizen is entitled to 25 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays!
I’m all for working hard, but the American lifestyle – where unstructured time off is frowned upon – must change. Notice I say unstructured. Part of what is so unhealthy about how we live is that we over schedule everything, even vacations. For many kids now, summer break is not really a break at all. It’s just a new schedule jam-packed with activities!
We too have our schedules and set vacation time, and in many ways succumb to the American way of life. But we also strive to find a middle-way that allows us to enjoy all the benefits of our great country, while at the same time embracing our need for regular downtime.