Last year Americans let more than 429 million paid vacation days go to waste. T+L wants to give you those days back, by arming you with the tools, tips, and strategies to have quite simply the best trip ever.

By Melanie Lieberman
August 03, 2015
Katherine Wolkoff

Last year, Americans left more than 429 million paid vacation days on the table. An equally unsettling fact from the 2014 MasterCard survey? Only half of U.S. employees intended to take a vacation.

Across the Atlantic, Europeans are having a good belly laugh.

Though the average American receives 15 vacation days, only 14 are used (a slight improvement from years past). Meanwhile, the Dutch and the French are enjoying every last minute of their 25-30 mandatory paid vacation days.

The Wall Street Journal reports that time off improves general health and reduces stress. Exploring a new destination is stimulating, sipping a mojito on the beach is relaxing, and disconnecting can help increase productivity when you’re back in the office.

So why aren't we taking advantage of each and every one of our off days?

Google trends suggest workers are anxious about indulging in a little leisure. Searches range from “vacation request form” to “how to request vacation time” and “is it too soon to ask my boss for a vacation?”

As summer begins its swan song, it's time to stop making excuses and kick vacation plans into high gear. If money’s tight, consider an indulgent staycation. If you’re a manager or a supervisor, set a good example by participating eagerly and openly in your own time-off. There's only 50 days left of summer vacation. Let's make them count.

After all, unused PTO is like paying your employer. Wouldn’t you rather be hitting snooze and soaking up those fleeting summer rays?

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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