This year, National Plan for Vacation Day—which each year encourages Americans to plan all of their vacation days at the beginning of the year so they don’t lose them—takes on a special meaning. As we have been locked out of travel or even our normal routines, the urge to explore and take some time to reconnect outside of the digital trappings of work life have never been greater. And associations like the U.S. Travel Association are getting serious about helping Americans to find ways to relax and recharge.
This year, the annual celebration falls on January 26, at a time when more than six in 10 Americans (63 percent) report that they “desperately” need a vacation after trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Destination Analysts.
Destination Analysts has also found:
- Close to six in 10 American travelers (59 percent) miss traveling “very much” and 55 percent are excited about leisure travel in the next six months. (Destination Analysts, Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Report, 1/18)
- Close to three quarters (72 percent) of employed Americans indicated they set aside time to plan out vacation days for the coming year, and 84 percent of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)
- More than nine in 10 (93 percent) American workers say it is important to use their paid time off to travel. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)
- Once a vaccine is available and accessible, 53 percent of American workers prefer to use their paid time off to take a vacation away from home. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)
Historically, National Plan for Vacation Day has been intended to help address the problem of Americans failing to utilize all of their earned time off each year (an issue that persists, according to the latest data). Taking time off—including as a business owner—is important for many reasons, including:
Looking ahead to a travel experience provides a psychological boost. After the significant suffering and anxiety of the past year, putting a trip on the books can lift our outlook: previous polling from the U.S. Travel Association found that 97 percent of Americans say having a trip planned makes them happier. And academic research has found that the positive effect of anticipating a journey rivals that of actually being on one.
It’s an ideal time for consumers to plan and book travel. With the chilling effect that the pandemic has had on travel, favorable offers from travel providers are abundant and change or cancellation policies are flexible throughout the industry—from flights, to hotels, to car rentals and theme parks. And as vaccines become more widely available and Americans’ pent-up demand for travel creates a booking surge, those offers are likely going to become harder to find.
“Vacation planners are going to be rewarded this year more than ever before,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Not only will planners reap the significant personal benefits of looking forward to their next travel experience, but they will find some of the friendliest booking conditions we have seen in a very long time. After the very real peril and hardship that too many have endured due to the pandemic, National Plan for Vacation Day is the perfect opportunity to look ahead to a future travel experience when the time is right for you to travel once again.”
Dow cautioned that COVID is still a very present challenge, and that all Americans must continue to put health and safety first. Making the decision to travel again is a very personal decision, he said, and when people choose to travel they must continue to embrace the health and safety practices that can keep themselves and their fellow travelers safe.
You can find more information about the annual day on social media with tag #PlanForVacation.
Visit ustravel.org for more information.