Some workers say they cannot leave because they have too much to do. Others can't afford a getaway or say they are too tired to plan one. Some want to save vacation time for emergencies. Still others don't want to come back to a heavy workload. Dual-career families find it especially hard to coordinate schedules. Some employees take their cues from those around them.
"A lot of people give up vacation days because they see their boss or co-workers giving up their days," says Noah Blumenthal, president of a coaching company on Long Island. "This creates a vicious cycle in which no one wants to be the first to take all their days, but everyone wants the culture to change."
This summer, with gas prices soaring, more Americans may choose shorter vacations closer to home. Some will simply stay home, taking what is called a "staycation."
For Stadler, who is in her mid-20s and single, giving up part of her time off is a matter of priorities.
"I'm ambitious," she says. "I look at the time I could be in the office helping clients. It's a trend of this age group. You don't want to be spending money when you might invest it, or spending time away when you don't necessarily need to. It's a life stage. I'll grow out of it. I love to travel."
Even the summer hours some companies offer, with half-days on Friday, can subtly alter vacation patterns. "I look at those and think that is like a mini-vacation," Stadler says. "I don't need a week at a time to refresh myself."
Throckmorton finds that the growing ranks of singles also have an effect. "We've got a lot of people in their mid-20s. Seemingly nobody in that age group has any vacation plans for the summer. I don't know if it's financial, or being single and not planning."