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The Road to Nowhere

A by-the-numbers look at working and vacationing


Published August 17, 2005 at 4:00 a.m.

Last year, Americans forfeited an average of three paid vacation days -- 415 million days total -- a 50-percent increase over 2003.

The average American needs three vacation days before feeling relaxed.

43 percent return feeling overwhelmed by the work they have to do.

32 percent of paid vacation time is spent doing non-vacation activities.

30 percent of employees do office work during vacation.

25 percent of Americans cited "not enough time" as a major barrier to travel.

17 percent said it would interrupt their careers.

Only 79 percent of Americans get paid vacation time. Of those who get it, 12 percent take fewer than three days each year.

Maximum hours a week most Europeans are allowed to work, according to new EU regulations: 48.

Middle-aged men who skip vacation for five years increase their risk of heart attack by 30 percent.

66 percent of U.S. workers "often" or "always" come to work when sick. Lost productivity from such "presenteeism" is thought to represent as much as 60 percent of company health-care costs.

Percentage of their time in office that Presidents Johnson, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton and G.W. Bush spent on vacation, respectively: 26, 5, 12, 10, 5, 17.

Percentage of time G.W. Bush spent on vacation before 9/11: 42. The Roman calendar set aside 109 holidays on which official business was banned.

In 1648, idleness was declared a crimein Massachusetts.

3 percent of people have such a hard time leaving work that they develop flulike "leisure sickness" symptoms during weekends and holidays.

Weeks of paid vacation legally mandated in Brazil, Sweden, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Canada, China and the U.S., respectively: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 0, 0.

Percentage of people who have passports among Americans, the British and gay Americans, respectively: 20, 74, 84.

41 percent of Americans have changed their summer vacation plans due to high gas prices.

Between 2000 and 2002, 20 percent fewer foreign tourists visited the U.S., but 14 percent more visited Saudi Arabia.

4 in 5 Americans say they'd like the freedom of traveling alone, but 1 in 2 say it is regarded as "odd."

2 in 5 Americans "feel strongly" that one of the hardest aspects of solo travel would be dining alone.

Only one third of Americans report having better and more frequent sex on vacation.

28 percent of U.S. adults attend religious services when traveling.

According to The Economist, the value of unredeemed frequent-flyer miles is $700 billion, exceeding the value of U.S. dollars in circulation.