Vacation envy

Kynance Cove in Cornwall is a popular spot for British holidaymakers. Photo credit: David Wogan/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Oh, to vacation like a Brit! While most Americans are slaving away each working day, living for an average of 13 miserly days of paid time off each year, British workers are living the life of Riley, basking in a statutory minimum of 28 vacation days and eight public holidays a year, according to CNBC. (I’m not sure who this Riley guy was, but he certainly wasn’t American … wait, stop the presses! According to Wikipedia, Riley WAS American. Who knew?).

Twenty-eight vacation days! More than an entire month! I remember fondly having 20 vacation days back when I was working in London and I remember wishing for more. For more! Oh, the greed! And if you got sick, you took a sick day. No, you didn’t have to use a vacation day for it. No, you didn’t have to cough up a lung on the phone to prove you were really sick. You just stayed home and you got paid for doing so.

These days I have 13 vacation days, about two weeks of sick leave and 11 public holidays, which is considered a fair amount. By all American accounts, it’s nothing to balk at, but balking I do. Particularly when I take stock of the amount of vacation that my British friends get. I see their Facebook statuses. I know the fun and frivolity that they enjoy by virtue of being employed British folk.

They work hard and play hard and take time to stop and smell the roses along the way – and those roses might be in the south of France or off the coast of Africa or somewhere in between. It’s a good lesson for us all.


Posted on 15, September 2011, in Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. It looks really lovely there! I may pay a visit before the winter arrives! It’s not that far from here.

  2. It does look very idyllic and I did wonder how close it was to you – you should visit!

  3. Curiously I’d never heard of Kynance Cove and had to look at a map to see where it is! I’ve been around quite a bit of Cornwall (it’s a lovely county), but must’ve missed that part!

    I think most Brits who have that amount of holiday time take it in bits, here and there – and some use it if they get sick, so sometimes it doesn’t quite add up to 28 days of holiday. But I get your point and it’s pitiful that Americans get less than a fortnight.

  4. You have 11 public holidays? I only have seven! And I’m going to be taking (more) unpaid days off on vacations this year — I couldn’t bargain for more vacation days when I took this job, though I did get an agreement that I could take unpaid time off. Your blog is selling me on the UK! And I’ll soon be bugging you for travel tips…

  5. Just thought I would mention that Kynance Cove it appears, is owned by the National Trust. Do you have any similar organisation in the USA? I may be biased in favour of the NT being a member but also a volunteer. Has anyone ever visited Castle Drogo? The last castle built in Britain finished in 1930!

  6. Why don’t Americans use the word fortnight?

    Because they don’t need to – they never have enough leave to take a fortnights holiday!

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