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Hectic family schedules, soaring gas prices and the e-leashes of technology will prompt more workers to opt for long weekends that serve as mini-vacations instead of taking long blocks of vacation time as in years past, according to recent surveys and a trend forecast.

Three- and four-day vacations are replacing the once-a-year, two-week vacation for U.S. workers, according to Chicago-based outplacement consultant firm Challenger, Gray& Christmas Inc., which offered up a forecast of vacation habits based on workplace and family trends.

“We are becoming a nation of the long weekend vacation, with workers looking ahead to each Monday/Friday holiday for the opportunity to turn a three-day weekend into a four- or five-day weekend,” firm President and CEO John A. Challenger said in a press release.

Trying to schedule a vacation around the children’s activities can present another barrier to taking long vacations, he noted.

“Between the work schedules of the husband and wife as well as the school, after-school and summer activities of the children, it is difficult to find an extended time that works for all family members,” he said.

Then there’s the expense of longer vacations.

“Even if you cut out the airfare by driving, hotel rooms, food and attractions could easily reach $200-$300 per day,” and driving long distances can be expensive given today’s pump prices, he observed.

Employers will be the biggest beneficiaries of the short vacations, Challenger suggested.

“For the employer, these brief jaunts are the equivalent of a 20-minute power nap—they do not disrupt the rhythm of the workplace, and afterward the worker is refreshed and ready to attack the job at hand. While workers may end up with more frequent vacation absences from the office, productivity does not suffer because they are gone for less time,” he said.

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