Summer is upon us—which means time to clock in those vacation days and have some fun in the sun… right? Turns out that up to 54 percent of Americans don’t use all of their earned vacation time, leaving over 662 million vacation unused each year. And according to Project: Time Off—a movement that strives to encourage vacation as a necessity for personal wellbeing—that means employees essentially donated an average of $604 in work time (a collective $66.4 billion!) to their employer.
In response to this data, fellow Time Inc. title Travel + Leisure recently launched Operation Vacation—an initiative urging people to use their vacation days and providing dozens of affordable, fun ways to do so.
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Nathan Lump, editorial director of the luxury and lifestyle group at Time Inc. says the reason these days are going unused typically boils down to anxiety and fear relating to work. “Many workers are also afraid that being away could make them seem replaceable, or that it could make them less likely to receive a raise or promotion,” he said. “In truth, managers tend to acknowledge that taking time off is good for the people who report to them, and the data doesn’t support the idea that those who don’t take vacations are more likely to advance, but our broader workplace culture obviously doesn’t support that thinking.”
Though 38 percent of people surveyed by Project: Time Off say they want to be seen as a “work martyr”—a term used for employees who don’t utilize their vacation days out of fear of being replaced or falling behind—these individuals are 79-84 percent less likely to report receiving a raise or bonus. And when it comes to promotions, Project:Time Off found that work martyrs are no more likely to receive a title change or salary bump than their co-workers are. The only thing work martyrs seem to gain is stress—the organization found that work martyrs feel more stressed at work and at home.
Related: 5 Ways to Travel (Nearly) for Free
So what are you waiting for? The year is halfway over, and those vacation days are waiting for you. Head over to the Operation Vacation website to check out some of the exclusive deals available all over the world, including 40 percent off of a five-night stay in the Barbados or 30 percent off a small ship Alaskan cruise.
“Some of the best [deals] I’ve seen are for cruises: 40 percent off luxury cruises with Cunard, 61 percent off sailings in Asia with Windstar,” said Lump. “And I know firsthand how relaxing cruises can be (nothing at all to plan!), so that sounds pretty good to me.”
This article originally appeared in Realsimple.com