Study: Want a raise? Take a day off.

Taking vacation days linked to better health & higher paychecks


DENVER (May 8, 2018) – Think that taking a vacation will set you back at work? Think again: More than half (52 percent) of Americans who take most or all of their vacation days to travel report receiving a promotion in the last two years, compared to Americans who use some or little to none of their paid time off (44 percent). That's the takeaway from AAA and Project: Time Off's  State of American Vacation 2018 report, which found that work-related concerns are the top reason Americans opt not to take time off. 

Employees who were concerned that taking vacation would make them appear replaceable or less dedicated were dramatically less likely to use all their vacation time -- 62 percent leave time unused, compared to 52 percent overall. This held true for those who felt their workload was too heavy (57 percent to 52 percent) and for those who believed no one else could do their job (56 percent to 52 percent). 

"They call it 'earned' leave for a reason: You've earned it," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "Take that time to travel, and stop worrying about work. Odds are that using your vacation days can advance your career and improve your overall happiness at home -- and the office." 

Indeed, those who use more than 75% of their vacation days to travel report a higher likelihood of receiving a raise, bonus, or both than those staying at home or work. And 'mega-travelers' report dramatically higher rates of happiness with their health and well-being (22 percent) than those using little to none of their time to travel. They're also more likely to like their livelihood: Mega-travelers are 13 percent happier with their companies than those who rarely travel, and 11 percent happier in their jobs.

"When we forego travel, we miss out on defining moments, experiences, and memories -- and end up costing our economy, too," McKinley said. 

Economic Benefits
While American vacation usage in 2017 hit its highest level since 2010, 52 percent of Americans are still leaving vacation time on the table. Their accumulated 705 million unused days in 2017 is a $255 billion missed economic opportunity that could create up to 1.9 million jobs, per AAA research.

Workcation All I Ever Wanted?
America's always-on work environment has created a new trend in travel: The 'workcation,' where employees travel somewhere intending to work remotely for all or part of the time they're away. Millennials are driving the trend -- with four in ten saying they find the idea appealing, compared to just 18 percent of Boomers. 

Work Perks That Work
With unemployment rates hitting record lows in Colorado and across the country, many workplaces are beginning to recognize the benefits of employee vacations, per AAA research. The percentage of workers who say their company's culture encourages vacations jumped five points from 2016. And the research identified a major split when it came to the happiness of employees at vacation-positive companies versus their peers at firms that discourage vacations -- 72 percent to 42 percent. These employees are also much happier with their job (68 percent to 42 percent) and how much vacation time they use (77 percent to 51 percent). 

"The takeaway for employers is crystal clear: Want to find and keep the best employees? Offer vacation time, and encourage them to use it," McKinley said.  

About the Survey

Project: Time Off's State of American Vacation series provides the most comprehensive annual look at America's vacation habits. This year, GfK surveyed 4,349 U.S. employees who earn time off with economic analysis by Oxford Economics. See the report for a full methodology.

About Project: Time Off

Project: Time Off has uncovered an alarming trend: over the last 40 years, Americans are taking fewer and fewer vacation days. To reverse this trend, we aim to prove that vacation travel is valuable and necessary for strengthening personal relationships, inspiring creative thinking, improving professional performance, and promoting better health. Learn more at

About AAA Colorado

More than 660,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's most prominent advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit