And spending less time on vacation away from work

With summer approaching, Americans are packing up and shipping off — but maybe not as happily or as far away as usual.

For most, this year’s vacation won’t be the lavish five star all-inclusive resort. Nearly 70 percent of people surveyed by self-serve coin counter company Coinstar say they plan to spend the same or less than they did last year.

The leading reason for smaller vacation budgets is to pay down debt, the survey says.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans say paying off debt is a higher priority than relaxing. Other reasons included saving for a big purchase like a house or car, and saving due to concerns with the US economy — 27 and 22 percent cite these reasons respectively. A roundup of other travel news we found also paints a picture of scaling back…

Cheaper airfare

A helping hand in accommodating smaller budgets this summer is cheaper airfare, says a recent study from American trade association and lobbying grou15p Airlines 4 America.

“Rising U.S. gross domestic product, a steadily improving economy, an all-time high household net worth and historically low airfares are proving to be the perfect combination for the expected growth in summer air travel,” says A4A VP and chief economist John Heimlich.

A4A expects that 234.1 million passengers — or approximately 2.54 million per day — will travel worldwide on U.S. airlines between June 1 and August 31. That’s a growth of 4 percent over last summer’s travelers.

Slightly more days off

American employees are taking more days off, according to a survey by Project: Time Off, a coalition of tourism and hospitality companies looking to reshape American attitudes about working too hard.

The average number of days off for 2016 was 16.8, up from 16.2 in 2015.

More than half of employees (54 percent) say they ended 2016 with leftover vacation time, about the same as 55 percent in 2015. Although both men and women said vacation time was important to them, men were more likely than women to use all of their time, 48 percent to 44 percent.

Tough to unplug

Despite technically taking off a bit more time, Americans find it difficult to leave their work behind.

More than 62 percent of people surveyed by Travel Leaders Group travel agency said they intended to check work emails and voicemails while on vacation.

In addition, 31 percent of respondents say they leave vacation days on the table.

“The good news is that the percentage of those surveyed who say they forfeit well-deserved vacation days has decreased from 38.5 percent in 2014 to 31 percent today.  However, there is a significant increase in individuals staying ‘plugged in’ to work while on vacation, according to our new survey,” says Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.

According to a similar survey by job listing website Glassdoor, 66 percent of people admit to working while on vacation time, up from 61 percent in 2014.

More than one quarter said they are expected to stay on top of work issues and jump in if things need their attention, according to the survey. That’s up from 20 percent in 2014. More than one in 10 employees say they are also expected to be reachable, deliver work, or participate in conference calls while on vacation, compared to 9 percent in 2014.

“We are seeing a push and pull situation when it comes to employees taking vacation and paid time off, in which people attempt to step away from the office for a break from work, but technology is keeping them connected with the swipe of a finger,” says Carmel Galvin, Glassdoor chief human resources officer. “While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits.

Americans are more stressed

Vacations are supposed to help alleviate stress, but more Americans are putting off travel due to stress.

A study from Wyndham Vacation Rentals shows that 51 percent of U.S. vacationers are more stressed today compared to a year ago, and it’s causing more than one in three to cancel or delay their trip.

“Times have changed and the daily demands of everyday life have travelers thinking differently about vacation,” says Gail Mandel, CEO of Wyndham Vacation Rentals.

When trying to book vacations, survey respondents said that too many options, the difficulty of separating from work, and worries about traveling with their partner made planning a trip more stressful. For some Americans, planning a trip is more stressful than managing their finances.

Minimizing stress

Nothing can put more of a damper on a trip than flight complications such as overbooking or cancellation. Luckily, a lot of that stress can be alleviated by reading the fine print, according to Cheapflights.com.

For example, if you’re offered compensation for getting bumped off a flight, there are some general guidelines they have to follow. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires each airline to provide a written statement of the passengers’ rights to those who are bumped involuntarily.

Those travelers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check, cash or voucher — but if you cash the check you lose leverage to pursue more money from the airline later on. If being involuntarily bumped ends up costing you more money than the airline will pay you at the airport, you can try to negotiate a higher settlement with the airline’s complaint department. If this doesn’t work, you can opt to not cash the check and take the airline to court.

Airlines don’t have to compensate passengers if a flight is delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. If a delay is excessive, you can change your reservation to a flight on the same airline but you might have to pay a cancellation penalty or higher fare.
If you get stuck on the tarmac, know the U.S. Department of Transportation prohibits most U.S. airlines from keeping a domestic flight on the tarmac for more than three hours unless there is a safety or security reason. After two hours, U.S. airlines must provide passengers with food and water. Also, lavatories must remain operable and medical attention must be available.

Happy travels.

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Article last modified on June 27, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .