Data in everyday life: What will you do with your summer vacation?

Barb ClearyTaking time off for vacation seems to be a diminishing phenomenon among American workers.

Each year, Americans fail to use 662 million vacation days, and with those days $236 billion in economic opportunity is lost, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Aside from the economic impact, there are clearly personal benefits that accrue from time away from work. The American Psychology Association reports that “we emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines.”

Increasingly, Americans are forfeiting vacation time—as many as 54 percent of us—citing reasons from “can’t afford” to “too busy.” Some worry about the work that will pile up while they’re gone, and others just want to make a good impression on their bosses.

In the midst of this trend, the national parks continue to draw record numbers of visitors. For those who live close to any of these parks, they may represent a quick weekend trip, while others will haul their families across the country to spend their breaks camping or hiking. Which parks draw the greatest number of visitors? This data may help you make a decision about where to travel, once you’ve made up your mind to actually take that paid time off and garner the psychological benefits that it promises.

This SQCpack chart not only reflects the number of visitors to national parks, but also demonstrates the growing number of visitors to Smoky Mountains National Park.

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