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The Great Vacation Squeeze    cover photo

The Great Vacation Squeeze 2013


Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by John de Graaf
Directed by John de Graaf
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Family, Mental Health, Recreation, Travel and Tourism, Work

Date Entered: 10/29/2014

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

The United States joins Burma, Nepal, Suriname and Guyana as a handful of countries with no legislation guaranteeing paid time off for workers. Needless to say, these ‘No Vacation Nations’ are in the minority worldwide. In comparison, for European and other developed nations 4-6 weeks of paid leave is the norm. Not only are Americans not mandated to take vacations, many do not even when annual leave is available to them. For those who do, vacations are typically short, few and far between, often rushed, overly structured, and frequently fraught with anxiety about taking time away from the work. Ironically, the physiological and psychological ills that a vacation might alleviate have become one more stressor for many Americans.

In this short film made in association with the Sierra Club and KCTS public television, the idea that vacations matter is discussed. Statistical evidence plus interviews with national park rangers, a cardiologist, and travel writer Rick Steves, along with comments by vacationers themselves, make the argument that paid annual leave is critical for individual, family and societal health and well being. As a nation struggling with increasing levels of obesity, depression, and stress, taking two weeks off to relax and rejuvenate seems to be a simple solution to a complex problem. Although the tone of program is light-hearted – since vacations should be fun – the message is an important one that deserves further consideration. The film-maker is the executive director of Take Back Your Time, an advocacy organization dealing with the issues of time and overwork in the U.S. and Canada.