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Women need vacation the most, but take it the least

Leaving time off on the table can lead to burnout

If you’re a woman, chances are a much-needed getaway is long overdue. You’ve probably also banked time off that you don’t use. The research is in, and it shows women hesitate to take their hard-earned vacation days.

Here are some of the key findings of Project: Time Off, a U.S. Travel Association initiative:

  • Women were more likely than men to report that vacation time is extremely important to them (58 percent to 49 percent).
  • Nonetheless, only 44 percent of women used all their vacation time compared to 48 percent of men.
  • The gender divide was even wider among millennials. Fifty-one percent of millennial men used all their vacation days compared to just 44 percent of their female counterparts.

Although women are less apt to take a vacation, they arguably need one the most. A majority of mothers —over 71 percent in 2021 — work outside the home for pay, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, yet they still bear most of the responsibility for running their households and raising their families. Consider, too, that about two-thirds of caregivers for those with long-term needs are female. It’s no wonder that stats cited by Fortune Magazine revealed that 48 percent of women say they undergo more domestic stress.

If women are so desperately in need of a break, why do they leave time off on the table? They offered several reasons in Project: Time Off:

  • Reluctance to return to a mountain of work
  • Worry that no one else can do the job
  • Feeling guilty
  • Wanting to show complete dedication
  • Not wanting to appear replaceable

While these answers may seem relatable, there’s a steep cost to being a work martyr. Deloitte’s inaugural Women @ Work surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries, with 53 percent reporting that their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago and almost half feeling burned out. One high-profile example of the intense pressure many women feel to do and have it all is Jacinda Ardern, who resigned as New Zealand’s prime minister with the candid admission that she was worn out.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed, which is why taking breaks to recharge, including using your vacation time, is so crucial.


• Stay organized and keep a dedicated workspace.
• Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
• Exercise regularly, get adequate sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
• Set boundaries.
• Prioritize your tasks.
• Manage short-term stress with relaxation techniques such as journaling, deep breathing and meditation.

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