National Plan for Vacation Day

Join Project: Time Off on January 30 for National Plan for Vacation Day to declare your vacation days for the rest of the year, at the start of the year. 

In our culture of packed schedules, hyper-connectivity, and work martyrdom, American workers are in serious need of a break. It's time to start being intentional about how we spend our days.

We understand the value of vacation time for our relationships, personal well-being, and professional success. Yet, 51% of Americans skip the one step that could help them vacation: planning. Individuals who plan are more likely to use all of their time off, take more vacation days at once, and report greater levels of happiness in every category measured. ​

The power of planning

Americans leave 662 million days unused each year. The single-most important step workers can take is to plan their time off in advance. Yet less than half (49%) of households set aside time to plan the use of their vacation time each year. 

  • 52% of those who plan their vacation took all of their time off, where just 40% of non-planners did.
  • 75% of planners took a week or more of vacation a time, where just 42% of non-planners did.
  • The time spent planning correlated with greater happiness in nine categories, including:.
    • 83% of planners report they are happier with their relationships with their significant other, compared to 70% of non-planners.
    • 69% of planners, compared to 60% of non-planners, report being happy with their relationships with their children.
    • 81% of planners say they are happy with their financial situation, compared to 71% of non-planners.
    • 90% of planners are happy with their professional success, compared to 82% of non-planners.

How to Plan Your Time Off

1. First, confirm your paid time off benefits. Don’t take someone else’s word for it: some benefits may have changed from last year (many organizations offer additional days based on your years of service) so confirm what you have available by asking your manager or HR director.

2. Review your calendar for the year. It’s important to see when you could actually take a vacation. Consider:

  • Holidays during the year. If your office is closed for a holiday, could you add an extra day off and turn a one-day holiday into four-day weekend vacation?
  • Workloads and coworkers. Are you thinking of getting away during a particularly busy season at work? Are you considering time off when a member of your team will already be out on vacation? Start thinking now about how to ensure shared responsibilities are covered – and consider how to sync up with your coworkers on handling vacation during the year
  • Family events and other important dates. When will your kids have time off from school? Are there other events – like weddings, family reunions, or birthdays – that you should include in planning your time off?

3. Now, the fun part: this is where your dreams and goals come in. What are you going to cross off your bucket list this year? Where have you been wanting to travel? What are you dying to try? You don’t necessarily need to know what you’ll do with every vacation day—just plan the days off now. Getting it on the calendar is what matters most. 

4. Talk with your boss and colleagues about your plans to take time off. But don’t be anxious: nearly all senior business leaders believe vacation time benefits their employees – and the company. 

5. Think about how you’re going to share your experience with your colleagues when you’re back at work – nearly three in ten (28%) people don’t. You will benefit from your time off, and your coworkers can, too, by taking a vacation themselves! 


The more voices that join the conversation, the more successful we can be at motivating Americans to take their time off. The National Plan for Vacation Day toolkit provides turnkey resources to easily leverage research and customize the message for your channels and communication strategies. 

If you're looking for something that you don't see here, let us know.