Does Where You Live Determine If You Take Vacation?

Does where you live predict your vacation habits? It might, if you look at Project: Time Off’s latest study, Under-Vacationed America. The study reviews the vacation habits and lost economic opportunity for all 50 states and the 30-largest metro areas in the U.S.

Let’s cut right to it. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, open up that calendar and find some time to take a break. The nation’s capital is the most under-vacationed in America, due in part to the number of government workers in the area. With 63 percent of government workers leaving time on the table, it is the second-worst industry at using time off, but one of the most generous industries when it comes to rollover allowances. Nearly four-in-ten (37%) government workers say they can roll over 21 or more days of vacation, compared to workers nationally where just 16 percent can roll over that much time.

Several California cities also appear in the top ten worst cities for vacation usage: San Francisco (#2); Los Angeles (#4); and Riverside (#7). The state’s unique labor laws coupled with above average challenges to taking vacation make it home to employees that really need to take a day.

Noticeably absent from the worst cities list is everyone’s presumptive favorite, New York. While NYC has built a reputation for long hours and intense cultures, apparently it is home to workers who know when they need to remedy those 80-hour weeks with a vacation. Though the Big Apple’s workers are slightly better than the national average (53% of New Yorkers left time on the table last year, compared to 54% nationally), they are still not great. Those workers left a collective 37.5 million unused days, a big New York slice out of the 662 million day national pie.

There are a few cities getting it right. Workers in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Phoenix left the least vacation time unused last year, followed by Orlando and Miami. Workload is the top challenge to taking time off nationally (43%), but in the top five cities using the most vacation time, all five are less subject to the mountain of work: Pittsburgh at 37 percent; Chicago at 40 percent; Phoenix at 38 percent; Orlando at 37 percent; and Miami at 40 percent.


If you live in Idaho, New Hampshire, Alaska, or just about any Plains state, it is time to take a day. Idaho and New Hampshire—which rank first- and second-worst for vacation usage, respectively—are states where workers have greater anxiety about their job stability. Employees in Idaho are far more concerned than the national average that taking a vacation would make them look less dedicated (36% to 26%), where Granite Staters fear what the boss thinks of their time off (38% to 18%).

In many cases, states have challenges that align to their geography. In Alaska, cost is the much larger barrier to taking time off—workers in The Last Frontier put it as their number one challenge (51%), where nationally it is number four (32%). While Alaska is a beautiful place for a staycation in the summer months, the cost of getting away is more pronounced when you don’t have the option of a quick flight or drive—getting from Anchorage to Seattle by car would be a staggering 42 hours!

There are some bright spots in the U.S. The best state for vacation usage is Maine, followed by Hawaii and Arizona. What these states have in common are more positive work cultures and lower fears about job security than the average American. More than half (54%) of Maine’s workers say their company encourages time off, far more than the 33 percent of workers nationally who say the same. In Hawaii, life in a bucket list destination has its perks. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, its employees are way less likely than the national average to feel that they would be expected to work on vacation (8% to 21%) or that no one else can do the work while they are out (23% to 34%).



No matter where you live, vacation is important. Understanding the dynamics of a particular area can be key to lessening the challenges to taking time off. See where your state or city ranks in the interactive map below and start thinking about how to use your next vacation day. 

June 15, 2017