Americans Work on Their Vacation

    New York, N.Y. – July 28, 2011 – Many people look forward to the summer as a time to relax, enjoy time with family and friends and possibly travel more and work less. A recent Adweek/Harris Poll shows that two in five U.S. adults say they have taken or are planning to take a vacation this summer (40%) and 12% are not sure if they will take a vacation. But, how relaxing are these summer vacations?

    Among Americans vacationing this summer almost half say that they will (or did) work on their vacation (46%). This number includes over a third who monitor emails (35%) and just under a quarter each who check voicemails (22%) or occasionally take phone calls (22%). An unlucky but very small 1% of Americans who are vacationing this summer connect with the sentiment: What’s a vacation? because they work as if they are not on vacation at all. Over a third of Americans vacationing this summer detach more fully and say they will not (or did not) do any work on their summer vacation (35%) while 19% were not or will not be employed at the time of their vacation.

    These are some of the findings of a recent Adweek/Harris Poll survey of 3,304 U.S. adults surveyed online between July 13 and 15, 2011.

    Men are more likely than women to work on their summer vacation (54% vs. 37%) and among different age groups the chosen vacation-working style varies as well. Vacationing adults aged 35-44 are most likely to say they monitor emails (47% do vs. between 24% and 38% of all other age groups), those 45-54 are most likely to check voicemails (29% vs. between 15% and 25%) and the youngest group, aged 18-34, is most likely to occasionally take phone calls (26% vs. between 17% and 22% of other age groups who do the same).

    High-tech vacationing

    Whether these devices facilitate work or fun, over eight in ten Americans vacationing this summer say they will bring (or they brought) at least one technology device listed on their vacation (81%): half say so about a laptop computer (50%), 45% do for a smartphone such as an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry, and 35% say so for an MP3 player like an iPod. Fewer than one in five vacationing Americans bring an eReader device (16%), DVD player (14%) or tablet computer such as an iPad (12%) on their vacation.

    Among those who bring a tablet computer on their summer vacation, a third says it makes them more likely to do work on that vacation (32%) with one in five saying it makes them much more likely to do so (18%). A majority, however, says that bringing a tablet does not affect their likelihood to do work on vacation (62%) while a few say it makes them less likely to work (7%). Among those who bring an eReader device on vacation half say they read more than when they’re not on vacation (47%), 37% read the same amount and 16% read less while on vacation. In terms of low-tech media consumption, just 22% of Americans vacationing this summer say they read more magazines while on vacation, slightly fewer say they read less (14%) while half say their magazine-reading habits do not change on vacation (51%); 13% never read magazines at all.

    So What?

    Vacations are seen as time to relax and unwind, among other benefits, but it seems many Americans continue to work during this purported downtime. Americans bring technology devices on their vacations as well, which some say may encourage them stay involved with work (monitoring emails, etc.) while others assert that spending an extended period of time without a relied-upon technology device may actually increase stress and anxiety. Regardless if Americans choose to work on their vacations or not, hopefully they still find the time to do what’s enjoyable to them-some experts say the impact of even one great moment on vacation, like a unique activity or an incredible meal-can have lasting impact, create memories and make the whole trip worthwhile.

     

    TABLE 1

    TAKING VACATION THIS SUMMER

    Have you taken, or are you planning to take a vacation this summer (i.e., the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day)?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes

    40

    45

    46

    37

    35

    43

    38

    No

    48

    45

    46

    45

    53

    46

    50

    Not sure

    12

    10

    8

    18

    13

    11

    12

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2

    TECHNOLOGY DEVICES ON VACATION

    Which of the following devices, if any, did you bring, or will you bring, on your summer vacation? Please select all that apply.

    Base: All U.S. adults vacationing this summer

    Total

    Gender

    Age

    Income

    Male

    Female

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Less than $35K

    $35K-$49.9K

    $50K-$74.9K

    $75K+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Any listed (NET)

    81

    82

    80

    90

    90

    84

    63

    69

    80

    81

    87

    Laptop computer

    50

    50

    49

    50

    54

    55

    44

    42

    39

    51

    55

    Smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Droid, Blackberry)

    45

    48

    41

    54

    60

    46

    24

    27

    43

    43

    54

    MP3 player (e.g. iPod)

    35

    34

    35

    47

    41

    37

    15

    36

    22

    35

    37

    eReader device (e.g. Kindle, Nook)

    16

    17

    14

    15

    16

    19

    15

    7

    14

    13

    21

    DVD player

    14

    14

    13

    15

    16

    19

    8

    13

    12

    17

    15

    Tablet computer (e.g. iPad, Xoom)

    12

    15

    9

    12

    17

    15

    7

    7

    4

    10

    16

    None of these

    19

    18

    20

    10

    10

    16

    37

    31

    20

    19

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    TABLET COMPUTER AND WORKING ON VACATION

    Does bringing your tablet computer on your summer vacation make you more or less likely to do work while on that vacation?

    Base: All U.S. adults who bring their tablet computer on vacation

    Total

    %

    More likely (NET)

    32

    Much more likely to work

    18

    Somewhat more likely to work

    13

    No change in likelihood

    62

    Less likely (NET)

    7

    Somewhat less likely to work

    2

    Much less likely to work

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    eREADER ON VACATION

    On summer vacation, do/did you read more or less on your eReader device than when you’re not on vacation?

    Base: All U.S. adults who bring their eReader on vacation

    Total

    %

    More (NET)

    47

    Much more

    20

    Somewhat more

    27

    No change

    37

    Less (NET)

    16

    Somewhat less

    13

    Much less

    3

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    WORKING ON VACATION

    Which of the following best describes how much you worked, or will work, during your summer vacation? Please select all that apply.

    Base: All U.S. adults vacationing this summer

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Works during vacation (NET)

    46

    50

    57

    49

    31

    54

    37

    I monitored/will monitor emails.

    35

    38

    47

    36

    24

    42

    28

    I checked/will check voicemails.

    22

    23

    25

    29

    15

    26

    18

    I occasionally took/will take phone calls.

    22

    26

    22

    22

    17

    28

    16

    What’s a vacation? I worked/will work like I would if I was not on vacation.

    1

     

    1

    4

    1

    1

    1

    Other

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    3

    1

    I didn’t/won’t do any work while on summer vacation.

    35

    37

    36

    41

    29

    31

    39

    N/A – I was/will not be employed at the time I took/take my summer vacation.

    19

    13

    7

    10

    40

    15

    23

     

    TABLE 6

    MAGAZINE READING HABITS

    How, if at all, do you magazine-reading habits change when on summer vacation?

    Base: All U.S. adults vacationing this summer

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I read more magazines when on summer vacation.

    22

    28

    25

    24

    14

    20

    25

    I read fewer magazines when on summer vacation.

    14

    12

    10

    15

    17

    15

    12

    No change

    51

    44

    57

    49

    56

    51

    51

    NA – I never read magazines.

    13

    16

    8

    12

    13

    14

    12

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Adweek/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 13 and 15, 2011 among 3,304 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    The Harris Poll® #88, July 28, 2011

    By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher

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