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America's Vacation Deficit Disorder: Who Stole Your Vacation? Paperback – May 21 2013
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By June Sawyers, Special to Tribune Newspapers
December 11, 2013
"America's Vacation Deficit Disorder: Who Stole Your Vacation?"
As the end of the year approaches, now may be a good time to anticipate next year's vacation plans. What's that, you don't have any plans? You can't afford to go away? You fear losing your job if you take the time allotted to you?
Author William D. Chalmers addresses these issues in examining the average American's woefully inadequate vacation plans. Chalmers cautions that as the "No-Vacation Nation," there is a heavy price to pay when people settle for just a few long weekends each year. The consequences include "epidemic levels" of anxiety and depression, obesity and heart attacks, absenteeism and job burnout and the breakdown of the family unit.
The situation is so dire, he believes, that the country is in need of "an immediate intervention" that will help to break this "harmful" behavior. As more and more Americans work longer hours, they have little time to enjoy the benefits of their hard-earned labor. There is, he says, a "leisure gap" between Americans and the rest of the world.
Chalmers works hard too, but he also makes sure he finds the time to relax. A self-proclaimed travel evangelist, he travels "a lot" to renew his insatiable curiosity but also to simply experience the wonder of the planet, and he encourages his readers to do the same.
Chalmers examines how the United States came to adopt its live-to-work mentality, but he also hopes to stimulate a national debate regarding the deeply rooted reasons why Americans continue to adopt unhealthy workaholic habits (such as the lingering effects of the country's Protestant work-ethic cultural heritage).
In addition to cogent arguments in favor of more leisure time, the book is stuffed with statistics and charts and includes fascinating historical tidbits. In 1910, for example, President William Howard Taft advocated that Americans deserve two to three months off as a necessary correction after "the hard and nervous strain in which one is subjected to during the autumn and spring." And yet, more than 100 years later, the harsh reality is that in 2012, half of American workers took fewer than five days of vacation, and 20 percent took fewer than three days. He asks, and answers, many culturally insightful questions too, such as how much Americans spend on vacations and what percentage of the population "really" travels.
His other points: the dangerous consequences of being the No-Vacation Nation, the benefits of leisure, working vacations, American exceptionalism and the happiness factor. He concludes with his own prescriptions for America's vacation-deficit disorder, including seven "really great reasons" why Americans should travel more.
An appendix features suggestions for workplace reform and a dozen ways to change your work/leisure balance, which range from downsizing and cutting back on unnecessary consumerism to the simple but difficult pleasure of saying "no."
This is a sure tonic for work-weary warriors.