Lack of Vacation Linked to Depression in 30.4% of Americans

by | 4 minute read

Amer­i­cans suf­fer­ing from a "vaca­tion deficit" are near­ly two times as like­ly to show signs of mod­er­ate­ly severe to severe depres­sion com­pared to the nation­al aver­age, accord­ing to the tenth annu­al Allianz Glob­al Assis­tance Vaca­tion Con­fi­dence Index. "Vaca­tion deficit" iden­ti­fies those who think that a vaca­tion is impor­tant but are not con­fi­dent they will take one this year.

"Vaca­tion Deficit Dis­or­der," or the rela­tion­ship between a lack of vaca­tion and depres­sion and vice ver­sa, was iden­ti­fied by inter­na­tion­al polling experts Ipsos, which admin­is­tered the PHQ‑9 sur­vey, a clin­i­cal­ly val­i­dat­ed screen­ing ques­tion­naire to test like­ly lev­els of depres­sion, to a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant sam­pling of Amer­i­can trav­el­ers.

The 8.1% of Amer­i­can adults who iden­ti­fy as Trav­el Chan­nel Watch­ers, accord­ing to Audi­enceS­CAN, have big dreams for trav­el plans with­in the next year. Near­ly 47% would like to take a trip to the beach, 34.6% want to head to a state or nation­al park, 33.2% think a trip to a muse­um would be nice and 29.2% would even like to vaca­tion out­side of the U.S.

Almost one-third (30.4%) of Amer­i­cans with a vaca­tion deficit demon­strate symp­toms of mild to mod­er­ate depres­sion, while 12% would be con­sid­ered to be suf­fer­ing signs of mod­er­ate­ly severe to severe depres­sion. Mean­while, of the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, those iden­ti­fied as dis­play­ing signs of mod­er­ate­ly severe or severe depres­sion are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less like­ly to have tak­en a vaca­tion in the past two years, and are less like­ly to take a vaca­tion in 2018.

Vaca­tion Deficit Dis­or­der
Depres­sion Sever­i­tySuf­fer­ing
"Vaca­tion Deficit"
Not suf­fer­ing
"Vaca­tion Deficit"
Nation­al Aver­age
Not at all31.2%39%38%
Mod­er­ate­ly Severe/Severe12%5.3%6.2%

To under­stand whether there was a link between depres­sion and the inci­dence of vaca­tion­ing, Ipsos, in part­ner­ship with Allianz, admin­is­tered the Patient Health Ques­tion­naire (PHQ‑9) sur­vey, an ini­tial screen­ing tool used by med­ical pro­fes­sion­als to iden­ti­fy symp­toms of depres­sion.

The results sug­gest that there could be a link for those with more severe symp­toms of depres­sion and their propen­si­ty to take a vaca­tion, despite being more insis­tent on its impor­tance.

The data showed the fol­low­ing among those who were iden­ti­fied as poten­tial­ly hav­ing mod­er­ate­ly severe or severe depres­sion (with nation­al aver­age in paren­the­sis):

  • An annu­al vaca­tion is very impor­tant: 40% (31%)
  • Very con­fi­dent in tak­ing a sum­mer vaca­tion: 24% (32%)
  • Typ­i­cal­ly get a sum­mer vaca­tion: 39% (46%)
  • Did not take a 2017 sum­mer vaca­tion: 62% (47%)
  • Last vaca­tion was more than two years ago: 56% (38%)
  • Very con­fi­dent in tak­ing a vaca­tion in 2018 at any point: 23% (35%)

When dream­ing of tak­ing a vaca­tion, many Trav­el Chan­nel Watch­ers will begin doing their research. Accord­ing to Audi­enceS­CAN, in the last month, 59.7% of this audi­ence used a search engine to research a prod­uct or ser­vice they were con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing. Only 17.2% will go past the first page of results though.

The 10th annu­al Vaca­tion Con­fi­dence Index poll by Ipsos for Allianz Glob­al Assis­tance pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to look back at how Amer­i­cans' vaca­tion habits have changed over the past decade.

Among the 58% of Amer­i­cans who say it's impor­tant that they get a vaca­tion each year, 67% are con­fi­dent that they'll get one. This leaves a vaca­tion deficit of 21% of Amer­i­cans who find annu­al vaca­tions impor­tant but aren't con­fi­dent they'll take one in the next 12 months, unchanged since last year, while one in ten (11%) have already tak­en one.

Trav­el-relat­ed busi­ness­es can stress the impor­tance of reg­u­lar vaca­tions to poten­tial clients a num­ber of ways. Accord­ing to Audi­enceS­CAN, last year, 49.3% of Trav­el Chan­nel Watch­ers took action after receiv­ing an email adver­tise­ment. They're also 16% more like­ly than oth­er adults to take action after see­ing a news­pa­per ad, both online and in print. This audi­ence is also 63% more like­ly than oth­er adults to pur­chase home exercise/fitness equip­ment, pos­si­bly to get beach-body ready. These retail­ers can boost sales by tar­get­ing this audi­ence through TV ads, since 66% of this audi­ence took action after see­ing a TV com­mer­cial last year.

Audi­enceS­CAN data is avail­able for your appli­ca­tions and dash­boards through the Sales­Fu­el API. Media com­pa­nies and agen­cies can access Audi­enceS­CAN data through the Audi­enceS­CAN Reports in AdMall.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Ana­lyst, spe­cial­iz­ing in audi­ence intel­li­gence, at Sales­Fu­el. She also helps to main­tain the major accounts and co-op intel­li­gence data­bas­es. As the hold­er of a Bach­e­lors degree in Eng­lish from The Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty, Rachel helps the rest of the Sales­Fu­el team with their writ­ing needs.