Vacation Shaming in the Workplace: Millennials Most Likely to Feel Guilt for Taking Time Off Work

Annual Alamo Rent A Car Study Explores the Vacation Attitudes and Behaviors of Americans

Mar 04, 2016, 09:00 ET from Alamo Rent A Car

ST. LOUIS, March 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Vacation shaming – being made to feel a sense of shame or guilt from co-workers for taking a vacation – has become prevalent in the American workplace, especially among millennials, according to new research* from Alamo Rent A Car. Findings from the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey show more employed millennials (59 percent) reported feeling a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation compared to those 35 or older (41 percent).

Oddly enough, employed millennials aren't just more likely to feel vacation-shamed – they're significantly more likely than older generations to say they also shame their co-workers (42 percent vs. 24 percent). Plus, millennials who have ever shamed their co-workers were significantly more likely than older generations to say they're at least somewhat serious (42 percent vs. 22 percent).

While millennials were most likely to feel guilty about taking time off, Alamo's research indicates that vacation shaming is affecting all generations. Nearly half (47 percent) of all workers surveyed said they felt a sense of shame or guilt at their workplace for taking time off to go on a vacation. What's more, two-fifths (42 percent) of those think their co-workers are seriously shaming them – not just joking. And nearly half (47 percent) said they've felt the need to justify to their employer why they're using their vacation days.

Twenty-two percent of those employed individuals surveyed reported that feeling shame was at least somewhat likely to keep them from going on or planning a vacation. "This year's research indicates that vacation shaming is a real workplace issue that can, in some cases, discourage hard-working Americans from taking well-deserved time off with their families," said Rob Connors, vice president of brand marketing for Alamo Rent A Car. "In addition, our survey shows employees continue to leave a large percentage of paid vacation days on the table."

"It's long past time to stop wearing unused vacation days as a badge of honor," said Gary Oster, managing director of Project: Time Off, an initiative to win back America's Lost Week of vacation. "By forgoing vacation days, Americans are missing out on stronger bonds with family and friends, greater fulfillment and productivity in their work lives and enhanced health and wellness as a result of time away from the office."

Other family travel perceptions and trends identified through the research include:

Work-Related Family Travel Trends 
Compared to the 2015 Alamo Family Vacation Survey, the 2016 survey showed a larger proportion of adults received paid vacation as part of their job benefits (56 percent vs. 52 percent, respectively). However, 41 percent of respondents who received paid vacation are still leaving some of these days on the table:

  • Of those who reported having unused paid vacation days, two-fifths (40 percent) said they left five or more vacation days unused in 2015.
  • The top two reasons people gave for not using all of their paid vacation were a desire to roll over their days to take a longer vacation the following year and the fact that they are simply too busy at work to take time off.
  • Compared to the 2015 survey, this year, significantly fewer adults reported never working on vacation (44 percent vs. 48 percent), indicating a rise in Americans being unable to unplug during their family vacations.

Family Bonding Best Part of Vacation: 
In both the 2015 and 2016 surveys, spending quality time together remained the most important benefit of traveling as a family (43 percent and 48 percent, respectively). The most frequently cited benefit from respondents' last family vacation in both the 2015 and 2016 surveys was spending quality time with a spouse or partner. In addition:

  • Adults appear more likely now than a year ago to go on vacations with extended family (73 percent in the 2016 survey compared to 67 percent in the 2015 survey). Out of a list of 21 items, the most popular opportunities people said they wanted their vacations to provide were to spend quality time with loved ones, get a break from their routine, rest and relax, bond/reconnect with family and see family or friends.

Kids' Technology Use is On the Rise: 
Ninety-three percent of parents reported allowing their kids to use electronics on vacation at least once in a while. Compared to the 2015 survey, more parents said they let their children use electronics on vacation most of the time (26 percent vs. 21 percent). Still, seven percent of parents report they do not let their children use electronics at all while on vacation.

Women vs. Men:  
Both the 2015 and 2016 surveys showed women were more likely than men to use all of their paid vacation days (63 percent vs. 54 percent in 2015; 63 percent vs. 52 percent in 2016).

  • Additionally, when it comes to family vacations, women are more decisive than men regarding:
    • What to pack/bring (49 percent of women said they never avoid making these decisions vs. 28 percent of men);
    • Places/attractions to see or visit (40 percent vs. 26 percent);
    • Where to go on vacation (43 percent vs. 34 percent);
    • Where to eat and what to cook (35 percent vs. 24 percent).
  • In both the 2015 and 2016 surveys, women were significantly more likely than men to say packing for the trip stresses them out the most the week before going on vacation (30 percent vs. 16 percent in 2015; 31 percent vs. 19 percent in 2016).

Alamo is a value-oriented, internationally recognized brand serving the rental needs of airport leisure travelers. For more information, visit

*The 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey was conducted from Jan. 5 - 15, 2016, with 1,500 adults from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey was fielded using the Research Now online consumer panel. At the time of the survey, participants had to have been at least 18 years of age or older, be married, have a domestic partnership or have a child under the age of 22, and taken one or more trips with their immediate family and/or their extended family in the past five years. Age data is reflective to the adult population based on U.S. Census data. Millennials are defined as 18 to 34 year olds.

About Alamo Rent A Car
Founded in 1974, Alamo Rent A Car – the largest car rental provider to international travelers visiting North America – offers low rental rates and a hassle-free customer experience at the most popular travel destinations throughout the world. In addition, Alamo customers in the U.S. are able to conveniently choose their own vehicles, based upon their advance reservation and requested car class, and then simply drive away from the airport.

Alamo is a recognized technology innovator, with the industry's first online check-in system since 2005, as well as more than 225 self-service kiosks at 71 U.S. locations, which earned it the "Extra Mile Award" from Budget Travel magazine in 2007. Alamo also serves as the official rental car of Walt Disney World® Resort and Disneyland® Resort. Customers who book online at receive Alamo's best rates, and if they choose the "Prepay & Save" option when making their online reservation, they may receive an additional 10 percent discount. 



SOURCE Alamo Rent A Car