"So much expectation is heaped on a few weeks of free time that disappointment, if not inevitable, is common. Worse, our escape from the job and daily routine fills us with anxiety that, somehow, this interlude will inflict a gruesome revenge once we return to work. Nevertheless, we go forth. We hustle to beaches, mountains, national parks, theme parks, unfamiliar cities or (best yet!) the back yard. The democratization of recreation is one of the 20th century’s quiet upheavals. Leisure travel spending in 2015 totaled nearly $651 billion and involved 1.7 billion person-trips, says the U.S. Travel Association. In the 19th century, only the rich could abandon sweltering cities for cooler resorts: Saratoga, N.Y.; Newport, R.I.; Cape May, N.J."
That's the very interesting beginning to a column — "Are you a ‘work martyr’?" (at WaPo (sorry!)) — by Robert J. Samuelson, who goes on to talk about all the people who have accrued vacation time and don't even take it. American workers have 658 million unused vacation days. The travel industry sees this as 223 billion unspent dollars that are somehow meant to be theirs. The term "work martyr" comes from the travel industry, and Samuelson is mostly passing along the results of the travel industry study. The travel industry, of course, wants to know why you don't give them your money, and you can see why they'd present your resistance to vacation as a mental disorder or psychic suffering for which they have the cure.
The study showed that the main reasons not to take time off were that your work would pile up while you were away (37%), that you're sort of indispensable (30%), and that you don't have the money for it (30%). Speculating about that, I'd say: If people don't want to spend their money actually leaving town, it makes more sense to simply pace yourself at work, comfortably doing what comes along, and relaxing and enjoying yourself on weekends, evening, and breaks. That doesn't make you a "martyr" to your work, especially if you also enjoy your work.
In these days of air conditioning, when there's no need to "abandon sweltering cities," why should you look forward to 2 or 3 weeks at some point in the year and then dump so much money into a trip (which might involve travel delays, bad weather, and other problems)? That's an awfully unpleasant attitude toward your work, and there's no way a little vacation is going to offset the 95% of the year that you're going to be working, a thought that might even oppress you during the vacation. And you'll never know the answer to the question: How much of your psychology is shaped by the travel industry that studies the psychology of people like you whose psychology was also shaped by all those years of advertising based on studies of people who — if you go back far enough — were sweltering in cities with no air conditioning? Is there a real you in there? What does that strange character want? How would you even know if you knew?