How much is an extra week and a half of vacation worth to you?

The first time many Americans travel abroad, they often meet Europeans taking luxurious 6 week holidays. It’s a mindboggling concept for Americans, who are lucky if we get 2 weeks of vacation per year for the first few years we work for a company. European working rules differ from those in the U.S., making six weeks of vacation annually not abnormal. Of course, it comes with a cost. The payscale in the U.S. tops that of most European nations.

So how much is extra vacation time worth?

It’s not likely that U.S. labor laws are going to resemble Europe’s anytime soon, especially considering the struggling Eurozone economy, but there are other ways to carve out time from your work schedule. One is to reduce your commute time.

Analysts at INRIX, a Kirkland, Washington based software company, found that many Americans routinely spend an extra work week or more stuck in traffic. Overall, the study found that traffic in the U.S. abated somewhat during the recession with higher fuel prices, increasing interest in telecommuting, and less workers heading to work.

Regardless, residents of Honolulu spend 58 hours per year sitting still on the H1, H2, and H3 highways in Hawai’i. Honolulu was followed closely by New York and Los Angeles, where residents can expect to sit in their car and watch pedestrians walk past them on the sidewalk for 57 and 56 hours per year, respectively.

Note that this does not include the time spent actually driving. This is simply the amount of time in stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper, oh-my-dear-god-will-someone-please-move-before-I-scream traffic.

It might be worth including this in the calculations of the next job that’s offered to you. How much is an extra week and a half of vacation worth, after all?

Photo courtesy of Errin Wessels on Flickr Creative Commons

Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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