What's the Most Popular Vacation Destination for Americans? Their Cubicle.

August 17, 2018

If you're a travel agent, there's a good chance that you have clients who are workaholics. If you don't have workaholic clients, you might be missing an untapped demographic among your clientele. All you need to do? Convince them to take a vacation. 

Easy right? After all, who doesn't want to go on a trip? But it turns out it could be harder to get those busy bees to take a little R&R. Project: Time Off issued a report, State of the American Vacation 2018, which found that 52% of Americans reported having unused vacation days.

What happens when you lump all those days together? What the report has to say might make your travel agent head explode: These wasted days accumulate to a total of more than 700-capital-M-Million vacation days went unused. 1

52% of Americans had unused vacation days. Don't be one of them.
Click on image to share!

That's BONKERS. Here's a little perspective on how much time this is: 700M days is 1,917,808 days—yup, almost 2M YEARS. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years. This means Americans wasted 24,368 LIFETIMES-worth of vacation days in 2017 alone

But it turns out that the U.S.' work-driven culture encourages its employees to shy away from using all their vacation days. To add a little insult to injury, these tanked vacation days mean that workers are essentially making deposits into their company's bank accounts. Do your clients want to donate money to your company? Probably not. Regardless, in 2017 full time workers "effectively donated an individual average of $561 in work time to their employer in 2017."

Don't pay your boss. Use your vacation days.
Click on image to share!

It gets even worse. Of the paid vacation days Americans do use, not much of it is spent traveling. The average American only spends 39.4% of their total paid vacation days traveling. So when they're not vacationing in their cubicle basking under the bright white rays of fluorescent lighting, they may be wasting their precious time off in their living room. 

For travel agents, this is obviously no good! But we're going to take a look at why workers are hesitant to travel and turn it into a marketing opportunity for travel agents with customizable resources you can post to social media. You can even add your own logo and branding if you're up for it!

Barriers to travel: Why do Americans waste paid vacation days?

In order to try to appeal to nine-to-fivers, it's important to know why American workers decide not to travel. Here are some of the top barriers to taking a vacation that Americans reported for 2017: 

1. The Barrier: Work Culture 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But a rigorous work culture is one of the top reasons Americans decide to stay home instead of packing their bags. Americans' number one barrier to taking a vacation was fear of appearing replaceable at work. 

The Travel Agent Marketing Solution: Vacation Is the Road to Promotion 

Fun fact: the study indicates that those who do venture out on vacations are more likely to be rewarded with a promotion. According to the survey, "More than half (52%) of mega-travelers reported receiving a promotion in the last two years compared to Americans who use some (44%) or little to none (44%) of their time to travel."

Unused Vacation Days Excuse #1: Work Culture
Click on image to share!

2. The Barrier: Work-a-holism

Workload was the #2 barrier to taking a vacation, followed by "Lack of Coverage at Work." Americans don't want to leave work behind (travel agents, does this sound familiar to you?). It doesn't matter if you give them data about how much happier their vacationing counterparts are! 

But there's a compromise . . .  

The Travel Agent Marketing Solution: Workcations 

If a client can't leave work, maybe they can bring work along with them (if they must). Workcations, where travelers work their regular hours while on the road, can help ease their work abandonment issues. Do you have packages, tours, destinations that can accommodate work on the road? Perhaps an itinerary with evening activities? Hotels that will keep workaholics connected in case their work sends an SOS signal? 

The younger the traveller, the more interested they are to taking work on the road. 39% of Millennials are interested in workcations compared to 28% Gen Xers and 18% Babyboomers. 

Unused Vacation Days Excuse #2: The Work-a-holic
Click on image to share!

3. The Barrier: Logistical Hassle of Traveling

After work-related reasons, "The Logistical Hassles of Traveling" ranked 4th. This was a tie with "My Pet" and "Concerns about security and safety while traveling." 

When it comes to planning, the early bird gets first in line at the TSA (or something like that). The study states that planners are "more likely than non-planners to use all or most of their time off to travel (33% to 18%), whereas non-planners are far more likely than planners to use little or none of their time for travel (44% to 16%)."

The Travel Agent Marketing Solution: It's Obvious . . . HIRE A TRAVEL AGENT.

There may not be much a travel agent can do about travelers' pets (any agents out there also do doggie daycare as a side hustle?), but they sure as heck can take care of the planning piece. After all, a well-planned trip will help travels feel safe and secure when they're on the road or in the air. 

The irony is that almost half of Americans do not plan ahead! (I am sitting here raising my hand.) And you know what, I can't blame Americans who don't plan ahead, becausetravelers spend a totally ludicrous amount of time trying to put together our own travel itineraries

This is an opportunity for travel agents to market to the plan-o-phobes (technical term) with last-minute trip ideas and whittling away client planning and research time to zilch. 

Unused Vacation Days Excuse #3: Logistics
Click on image to share!

But there are plenty-o-other reasons your clients will love you for encouraging them to get out of the house! Below are a few other facts you can use in your travel marketing on social media or website:

Travel agent marketing angle: Taking a vacation helps the economy

It turns out that these 700M days spent perishing in a cubicle cost a pretty penny:

  1. Skipping your vacation hurts the economy to the tune of (wait for it) $255 BILLION Dollars. That is over 3.5 times the net worth of Mark Zuckerberg and more than the GDP of Finland.2 
  2. The days off could have created 1.9M jobs. Whoa. For a little perspective, this would eliminate 30.2% of total unemployment in the United States.3 

Of the vacation days that are taken, fewer than half are spent traveling despite the fact that "84% still say it is important to them that they use their time off to travel." The moral of the story? Ask not what your vacation can do for you. Ask what your vacation can do for your country. 

Travel agent marketing angle: Vacations make you happier 

It seems obvious to travel agents that taking a vacation is restorative, and that downtime will lead to higher productivity in the office as workers ride out their vacation high.

The "mega-travelers"—those who use the majority of their paid vacation for travel—are happier than those who stay home. In fact they are 28% happier than those who don't use their vacation days . . . 76% compared to 48%. They're happier in every way too, from satisfaction with their company, their job, their personal relationships, their well being, and how they spent their paid time off. 

Yet, while the average employee takes 17.2 days of vacation according to this study, employees of every age category—from Millennials to Baby Boomers—use less than 50% of that precious vacation time for travel. 😮

We've got some work to do, travel agents! But the good news is, America is basically a big old warm lead just waiting and wanting to travel. Maybe they just don't know it yet. So you're going to remind them. This bring me to . . .  

Travel agent marketing materials to encourage your clients to use their vacation days. 

This data was a fun ride. But it's not news to you, dear travel agent. No. You don't need stats to tell you that travel makes people happy. But maybe your clients do! Wouldn't it be nice to have marketing materials you give your workaholic clients as a gentle reminder to use their days off—not only to make themselves happier, but to boost the economy and put more money into the pockets of working Americans? 

So all those dandy images we have above? You can download those, put your logo on them and push them out over social media. We left plenty of room to put in your own branding:

Here's exhibit A: 

Don't Pay Your Boss. Use Your Vacation Days.

Here's Exhibit B, prettified with your logo!

Don't Pay Your Boss. Use Your Vacation Days.

No need to purchase any expensive or fancy programming. You can explore a few simple (and free) design programs such as Lucidpress, Canva, or Gimp. We have other suggestions for other marketing DIY marketing tools here

Of course you can share, sans logo too by clicking on the images in the article :). Whatever floats your boat.

Here are the images to brand with your logo and share on social media to your clients: 

Unused Vacation Days Excuse #1: Work Culture


Unused Vacation Days Excuse #2: The Work-a-holic


Unused Vacation Days Excuse #3: Logistics


The unused vacation problem. The average American wasted over 15% of their vacation days in 2017.

Don't pay your boss. Use your vacation days.

We can help make use of those vacation days.

Do you have any tips for reaching clients and getting them out of the house? Post below in the comments!


  1.  Source: State of American Vacation 2018
  2. Source on Zuckerberg's net worth here and Finland's GDP here
  3.  Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics
About the Author

Mary Stein

Mary Stein has been working as a writer and editor for Host Agency Reviews since 2016. She loves supporting travel advisors on their entrepreneurial journey and is inspired by their passion, tenacity, and creativity. Mary is also a mom, dog lover, fiction writer, hiker, and a Great British Bake Off superfan.