The five-year old has been hankering to see Washington DC for a couple of years now. He has a couple of books about the city and since I travel there often, he's got an intense desire to go to the nation's capital. I'm teaching a class there in July, so we're planning a family vacation around it. There's also a conference in Australia that I may go to. It's in Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef. The wife of course wants to come. The problem? Vacation time. She gets 10 days a year and her employer won't even let her take unpaid time off.

Although this graph is pretty misleading -- it shows legislated time off, rather than actual vacation time taken -- it is quite telling of Americans' attitude to vacations. Americans do take far fewer holidays than citizens of other developed countries. Americans typically get 8-12 days of vacation depending on where they work and their seniority.

Vacation time for me is not a problem -- since I officially work for a university, I get more than 30 days a year plus 8 or so paid holidays. Makes me Finnish.

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