While Canadians value vacation time, we don’t tend to use all of our allotted vacation days. Expedia‘s yearly Vacation Deprivation Survey found that Canadians leave an average of three vacation days unused per year, a number that, when added up, comes to a total of 31 million unused vacation days.
Over half of Canadians also described themselves as “vacation deprived,” which means they either cannot use their vacation days due to things like their work schedule or they feel they don’t get enough time off. Ten percent of the survey’s respondents said that, as of August 2016, they had not taken any vacation time this year, and 20 percent said they could not afford to take all their vacation time.
The study also found that millennials take less vacation time than other generations, and are more likely to check their work email and voicemails when on vacation.
In past years, the study has found that Europeans lead the pack when it comes to taking vacations. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all offer an average of 30 vacation days per year, and people tend to use upwards of 25 of those days.
Naturally, we at Cottage Life are strongly in favour of taking vacations and prioritizing the important things in life: family, nature, and community. But don’t just take our word for it. While the full advantages of taking a vacation are incalculable, many studies have proven at least some of the health benefits of vacation time. In fact, some have found vacations to be literally life-saving.
One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who took a yearly vacation were 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who didn’t, and the Framingham Heart Study found that women who took vacations every six years or less were eight times as likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than women who took two vacations per year. Meanwhile, a study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal found that taking vacations is also linked to higher rates of satisfaction within marriages.
With smartphones and other technology dissolving the barriers between work life and home life, attaining a work-life balance is more important than ever. Our advice? Take those three extra vacation days, head down to the cottage, and savour the good things in life. You only live once.