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Vacation? Soaring Costs Keep Workers Home

licensed photo ©iStockphoto.com/ PeskyMonkey


As gas prices exceed $4.00 a gallon and the unstable economy threatens job security, Americans may want to consider taking shorter vacations closer to home to save money and possibly save their jobs.

The twice-a-year weeklong vacation, which has already supplanted the once-a-year two-week vacation as the staple of annual American leisure time, may now give way to the shorter but more frequent “long weekend” — three and four day getaways — as it becomes increasingly difficult for American families to afford longer vacations, both monetarily and professionally.

Rising prices at the pump and at the nation’s grocery stores are demanding a larger portion of monthly disposable income. Even a weeklong vacation, especially if it involves air travel, is starting to become financially out of reach for a growing number of Americans.

Additionally, the cost of airfare and hotel rooms for a family of three or four over a two-week period is beyond the financial reach of many Americans. Even if you cut out the airfare by driving, especially with record high gas prices, hotel rooms, food and attractions could easily reach $300 – $400 per day.

Consumers, who have long provided the most stable support for the economy, are starting to buckle under the pressure. Consumer confidence fell to a 16-year low in May, according to a report Tuesday from the Conference Board. The Deloitte Research Leading Index of Consumer Spending, which uses tax burdens, unemployment claims, wages and home prices to predict spending, is at its lowest level since the 2001 recession.

Moreover, the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor, a consumer poll of spending habits, found that 54 percent of consumers are spending less on basic living expenses such as groceries and other staples. The survey also found that nearly 55 percent of consumers are denying themselves of amenities like eating out and movie-going.

The government reimbursement checks were expected to lead to an increase in discretionary spending to boost the economy. Most likely, however, we’ll see those checks going to food and gas costs or to pay bills instead of family getaways. However, the downturn in the economy will likely keep workers closer to home to keep watch on their job situations.

As workers become more concerned about job stability, their vacation requests are likely to be for fewer days and will include the caveat that they will check e-mail and be available for work calls.

Those who are out-of-touch for a week or more will be remembered, and not in a good way, particularly if some type of crisis arises during the absence. He or she may be among the most productive, but not being there in a time of need could be what sticks out in managers’ minds when it comes time to make staffing cuts.

It is definitely important to take a break from work and maintain that ever-important work/life balance. However, the current economic conditions, coupled with surging costs, make shorter getaways, nearer to home the best option for most workers. Hopefully, the upside of this will be benefits to local economies and neighborhood start-ups. Moreover, if bikes and walking become the norm, we may begin to see healthier and more energized employees.

Vacation Planning


· Inform key contacts that you will be taking a vacation and provide the names and contact information for your backup.

· Change voicemail and set up an automatic email response message to inform people that you are on vacation. Include your return date and the name of a backup at the company who can provide assistance.

· Check email and voicemail and respond only to situations requiring immediate assistance. Keep your boss informed as to what you have done on your break.

· Provide the number of the hotel or to your backup where a message can be left and responded to at a convenient time.

· If you are a manager, leave employees a list of tasks to complete while you are away. This will help them focus and help keep your mind off of what they are doing or should be doing.

· Prior to leaving, make a list for yourself of tasks that should be addressed upon your return. This will help you get back into the swing of things when your vacation ends.

John A. Challenger John A. Challenger is chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement consultancy that pioneered outplacement as an employer-paid benefit in the 1960s. Challenger is a recognized thought leader on workplace, labor, and economic issues.

Will There Be A Vacation Season? Soaring Costs Keep Workers Home © 2008, Challenger, Gray & Christmas;

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