Are YOU Taking a Vacation This Year?

As summer draws near, thoughts turn to lazy vacations. But not for more than half of small business owners. According to the 2011 American Express OPEN Small Business Vacation Monitor, only 46% of U.S. small biz owners plan to take a summer vacation this year.

That’s pathetic.

Consider, though, that in 2010 just 40% took a one-week vacation.  So it’s an improvement of 6%, at least.

So what about you? Will you leave your business behind and get some serious rest?

bali vacation

What’s Keeping You at Home?  Work?

The biggest reason business owners said they wouldn’t travel this year is due to busy work schedules (37% said this) or affordability (29% said this). Gas, surprisingly, wasn’t as big a factor in staying home as you might guess. Only 23% said gas prices would affect how far they traveled (guess the rest don’t live in California!), and 17% said the rising prices would keep them from traveling altogether.

Staying Connected … Or Not?

The good news is, entrepreneurs are checking in less with work than in years past. In 2008, for example, 81% of those surveyed said they’d check email or phone messages while on vacation, while this year that number went down to 68%. And only 27% will try to tie in a business trip to their vacations, a number which has gradually gone down over the years.

Guess the spouses are being heard on that one!

It’s pretty much impossible for small business owners not to worry, even while on vacation, but even that has gone down. Based on the survey of 501 small business owners, we do, however, worry about:

  • An important client not receiving the level of service he’s used to
  • Missing a business opportunity
  • Staff judgment calls
  • Equipment breakdown
  • Who will manage while owner is gone
  • Employees slacking off
  • Security

Overall, the survey seems to indicate that entrepreneurs are finally beginning to relax a little on vacation. Even the number of those who feel guilty taking a vacation (27%) has gone down since 2008, signifying that we all recognize that we need a little R&R to be better business owners.

What do you say? Is a vacation necessary to aid you in successfully running your business? Do you check email nonstop while riding amusement park rides? Are you calling your employees or manager from the beach? Let us know in the comments below.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

23 Reactions
  1. I’ve already taken a vacation to Mexico this year and I intend to take a couple more vacations. My personal belief is that money is only as good as what you do with it.

  2. There’s a good chance that we won’t be taking a vacation this year, the economy and new business taxes are the main factors for this decision.

  3. Thanks for the post. (Kind of.)

    My wife and I are going back and forth a bit this year on vacation plans.

    It’s been a tough couple of years, (the economy, and business model changes)so we just don’t know yet.

    I know that once the book I’m writing is finished, I’ll NEED one.

    The Franchise King®

  4. If you can’t afford a vacation try to get long weekends away.

    You have to get some distance from your business otherwise you’ll burn out.

    PS – we’re off to London in July 🙂

  5. I always stay connected when I’m on vacation. I’m a new entrepreneur so I’m very thankful for having this new flexible lifestyle. That in turn makes me feel fine about working a little while on the beaches of Florida. I’m sure there will come a day when I have just had enough, but since I am just getting started, I’m not ready to put my clients on hold like that when we are just ramping up our professional relationship.

  6. @Robert–Love that attitude. Why don’t more of us have it? Do you check in to work when gone?

    @Extreme John–Thanks for sharing your reasons. Here’s to a nice staycation for you!

    @Joel–You’ll deserve a vacation after finishing it!

    @Ivan–Absolutely. Is your trip to London a “long weekend?” 🙂

  7. Martin Lindeskog

    Susan Payton,

    Where are you going on your vacation?

    I will take micro-breaks now and then during the summer. I will talk to the contributors on my blog if they want to write some blogs posts during July and August.

    I will celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July.

  8. While there may be limitations to where you can go or how long, getting away is so important. We can get caught up in the all or nothing thinking that it has to be a 2 week vacation somewhere away from it all.If you can’t get away from a longer period of time, take a morning, an afternoon or a day and just goof off for a short period of time.

    There are plenty of ways to check in and make sure things are fine. The key thing here is self-care. No one gets your business the way you do and no one is more committed than you. Who will manage and lead your business when you’re too burnt out to do the job right?

  9. @Amy–
    Keep that attitude and you’ll fare better. It’s the ones who start out checking in that can’t break themselves of it.

    Ahh you caught me. I don’t know actually. Possibly RVing to the Grand Canyon and to Hawaii at Christmas. We went to Paris for a month and I worked about 10%. It was perfect. I’ll run your blog for you while you’re away!! (seriously).

    Totally true. Even a day off makes a difference to me.

  10. I think an occasional vacation is therapeutic, and will make better, happier employees/owners in the long run. I’ve heard that Europeans take a lot more time off than Americans, and are overall happier than Americans, too. Thanks for posting this article! I linked it at

  11. I think if you do not get away and take the time to re energize or re focus. Consider your progress to be status quo!! Creativity and inspiration drained. I took quick extended wknd trip to Chicago with wife and kids during VERY busy expansion and planning time a few weeks ago… I thank my wife for making me!! All work and no play is recipe for failure!!

  12. Vacation, whether in the form of short get-a-way adventure or a week long relaxation at a resort, is imperative to the success of the entrepreneur.

    Business Owners often operate in Silo’s and if you’ve ever seen a silo on a farm, you probably see the connection. But the challenge is that silo’s as biz owners only have so much capacity before they can’t take anymore.

    So those breaks and retreats without technology and pressing deadlines is key to success. It’s the time to gather your senses, generate more energy, connect with yourself as an individual so that you can continue moving forward.

  13. Took a week off for the first time in a long time last year, and man let me tell you – it was as if the ‘reset’ button had been pushed. Don’t skip out on taking at least 5 consecutive days off. Your clients will thank you.

  14. We’re afraid to go this summer because we’re in the process to get new workshop, a lot of money involved, slow buisiness this spring…but I buy tickets to the Grand Canyon for 1week already 🙂

    Just because it will never end – business, customers, problems, conflicts, workers, cars and dogs. At least one week no phones, no computers, just silence..

  15. Martin Lindeskog


    Have a great vacation! I will send you an invitation (via Blogger) to become a guest blogger on my EGO blog.

  16. @Ashley–Thanks for sharing this article on Facebook!

    @Kevin & @Tammy–I agree. We’re always better for it.

    @Felix–I think we think we don’t deserve it. But we do!

    @AntaPlumber–Do it! There’s never a good time. And we’re RVing to the Grand Canyon. Maybe we’ll bump into one another! 🙂

    @Martin–Thanks! I’ll check it out.

  17. I LOVED this article. I work at a small family owned business that my grandpa started when he moved here from Europe, way back when. Ever since he started the company he has been micromanaging every little aspect of it, to the point where one of his customers has been trying to fly him out to Hawaii (for a vacation/show them how to install a part we shipped them a while back) and he refuses because he won’t leave the office for more then 2-3 days at a time! I mean, not only is it Hawaii, but he’s also neglecting helping one of our best customers by refusing to take time off to go over there and help them so they don’t take their business to a company that will gladly fly to Hawaii for a week.
    It’s ridiculous, and definitely wearing on all of the employees (my parents, me and even the non-relatives!) and it makes it hard to get anything done when he constantly is nitpicking every little thing.
    Any advice to maybe get him and my grandma to finally take their long overdue vacation? Or just stop micromanaging everything at least?

  18. @Caitlin–
    You can’t teach an old entrepreneur new tricks. Maybe buy them tickets? Surely they wouldn’t let them go to waste.

  19. I just took a 4 day quick trip to Lido Beach in Florida….literally sat on the beach from morning til night reading, napping, floating in the’s exactly what I needed. It’s amazing how only a few days of total relaxation is all that is needed to get your creative juices going again while giving you a much needed break…and, I even made a rule not to check my emails until the beach day was over!!

    I hope you take some time to relax as well this summer. You deserve it, right?

Win $100 for Vendor Selection Insights

Tell us!
No, Thank You