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How do Americans go touring?

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How do Americans go touring?

Old 07-14-10, 02:27 AM
  #1  
Jim246
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How do Americans go touring?

Hi All,

Obviously BF has a lot of American users, and the US is a terrific place to go touring. I am currently in Europe and have had a few opportunities to move to the US for work.... except... every job seems to offer about 1 week of holiday! How on earth does anyone manage to do anything?? I can honestly never see myself moving out there for this reason alone, which is a huge shame.

Genuine question from a confused European.

cheers,

Jim

p.s. Just checked, National labs (I am a scientist) offer 10 days holiday a year!
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Old 07-14-10, 02:41 AM
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Yep. My girlfriend and I once went on a month-long climbing trip around the western states, and all the folk we met assumed that we must have given up our jobs to do it!

I can choose to take public holidays at any time, so I have a total of 41 days of holiday every year. Eight weeks and a day! Not bad...
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Old 07-14-10, 03:13 AM
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You have just hit upon why in Europe and other countries Americans have a reputation for not being as "worldly" and as a consequence are stereotyped as being ignorant. American work-ethic landbounds them and I suspect it's part of a teaching of fierce cultural independence. I don't know why it's that way and have asked this question many times while being envious of cultures where extended "walk-abouts" are the norm if not expected.

That said, many Americans value travel more than others and so choose professions which allow for more vacation time. I have three jobs but it is understood that during the summer months, I am less available as I go on my tours. I am lucky though because I own a small business with a business partner, one of my jobs is only during the non summer months, and the other is seasonal and I control my hours.

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Old 07-14-10, 04:42 AM
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I have 3 weeks of vacation. I just took a 2 month sabbatical. In the US, we get what we want by demanding it, not by hoping someone will "give" it to us. In addition, most companies allow you to buy vacation time. For example, I can buy up to 2 weeks of time, I believe. They simply deduct two weeks worth of pay from my salary. We tend to be payed better than Europeans and pay less taxes as well, so it still ends up coming out ahead. And then you can always take unpaid time off if your employer approves. If you want to go on a big tour, I don't see any reasonable employer giving you grief over that.

And you can always quit and go get another job. The US is rather large, and there's always a job out there that will suit you better than your current one. It's also pretty easy to start your own business.
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Old 07-14-10, 04:49 AM
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In Canada, you get 1 week of holiday if you want to take holidays significantly under 1 year of employment (i.e. if you were hired in March, and wanted to take some time off in August)*, then you get 2 weeks for the next few years, and eventually you work your way up to 3 weeks, etc. By the time you've been with a company for about 15 years, you might be up to 5 weeks of holiday time.

I was at a job for 8 years and had worked my way up to 3 weeks of holidays which wasn't too bad, but I decided I wanted more so I quit and hit the road for 3 months. When I returned to Canada, I would have been back down to 1 week vacation if I'd opted to get a standard job ... so I signed on with a temp agency and got a job through them instead. Working with a temp agency means I can take as much time off as I want. I took about 1-2 months every year.

Here in Australia people would be appalled at a mere week of vacation. I'm not quite sure what the minimum is because I've opted to go the temp agency route again for now.



*This may have changed in recent years as seen in this link. And apparently the minimum in Australia is 28 days:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/la...gally-required

Last edited by Machka; 07-14-10 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 07-14-10, 04:58 AM
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I have been with my employer long enough to get 5 weeks vacation leave per year and am allowed to accumulate it so if I want a longer trip I can save some from one year and carry it over. I have also negotiated to take some "leave without pay" to extend my vacation for my Trans America tour.

I suspect that many just do weekend or S24O trips. Trips that short just don't appeal to me, but some folks seem to enjoy them. I personally don't want to bother with touring if I can't be at a minimum 10 days and preferably more on the road. Otherwise I'd rather just do day rides.
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Old 07-14-10, 05:09 AM
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We Americans have allowed business to rule the country. Whenever enhanced benefits are mentioned, business response is that it will kill business and throw the country into a recession. Americans fail to grasp that European countries have been doing well, while still providing benefits that make their workers happy and healthy.

I have been very lucky and have always worked for progressive companies. My current employer provides 3 weeks paid vacation to start, 4 weeks after 3 years of service, and 5 weeks after 10 years. So I have 5 weeks + holidays + sick time, this allows me to take the long family vacation each summer, a couple of week long bike trips, and the occasional Friday/Monday for long weekends. I'm trying to make it to 20 years, since they provide a bonus of a one time 4 weeks off vacation. So in 5 years on my 20 anniversary, I'll get 9 weeks of vacation and will be doing a Trans-Am. :-)
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Old 07-14-10, 05:12 AM
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Depends on who you work for but most companies will give you 2 weeks of vacation / yr and vacation pay is deducted from your pay cheque and banked for when that vacation happens.

After 11 years with one company I had 3 week of vacation/yr and always banked a lot of overtime which I used to extend or to take other time off.

Since I often worked on holidays I banked a lot of extra days off as well.
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Old 07-14-10, 05:25 AM
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Americans live to work, Europeans work to live, that pretty much covers it. Business in USA is everything; citizens comfort is not even a secondary concern for anyone. This is United Corporations of America. Most Americans are brain washed into thinking that that's the way it should be and any government overlook or government provided services and benefits (healthcare, mandatory vacations, retirement) equal communism. So they work their asses off to be good consumers and avoid becoming a communist country. Most are happy as the American Dream is what they live for: car, house, big screen TV is what life is all about for them, and all traded for freedom; real freedom, not the freedom American media likes to talk about.

I'm lucky my job gives me 6 weeks of vacation time per year now, but it took me 10+ years to get to this and it's a large academic institution. One reason I'm afraid to change jobs and start over with lame 1-2 weeks of vacations. Oh, and most places won't give you any vacation time during first year at all.

So, most long distance touring cyclists here seem to be either young people taking some time off after college before letting the Career swallow them or retired people or those lucky enough to work for themselves or those who made extra effort to set up their lives differently from others. Others need to be satisfied with week-long tours. There is always the option of unpaid leave or but most people just can't afford it and it's often very hard to get approved for unpaid leave.

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Old 07-14-10, 05:30 AM
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Read the book, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," by Max Waper. Its older but still really relevant. The thesis is that the reason that capitalism works so well in the United States is because of the Protestant work ethic and a particularly American (ie literal) interpretation of a select few bibles passages. He goes on to argue how those beliefs go on to create a number of the other American stereotypes such as obesity.
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Old 07-14-10, 06:54 AM
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with Bermuda shorts and floral print shirts!
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Old 07-14-10, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
the Protestant work ethic and a particularly American (ie literal) interpretation of a select few bibles passages.
Historically, the PWE in the US has often meant, get non-Protestants to do the hard labor.

But seriously, what industry do you work in that only gives a week vacation? Most places here now will do better than that. I get three weeks, plus a week between Newtonmas and New Years, but it's academia, so that's almost cheating.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:22 AM
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almost three weeks of vacation paid a year - and i work at a bikeshop! We can even take vacation time in the middle of summer. Of course, the average wage at a bikeshop in a large city doesn't afford much in the way of four-star travel when not working. Those of us at the shop are very lucky indeed.

I am very thankful for these generous benefits as they are not attached to every job in the USA. which is unfortunate when taking a look at the lifestyle and social benefits enjoyed in other developed industrialized countries.

Americans suffer from the lack of personal time and benefits that a lot of other citizenry get to enjoy.

Under the guise of the wonders of american capitalism and access to a solid middleclass lifestyle if you were just willing to put in an honest days work, americans have been pulped into disenfranchised chattel.

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Old 07-14-10, 07:26 AM
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My current job only gives me ten paid days a year. When my priorities changed about a year ago, I had a discussion with HR. I attempted to get more time off in exchange for a lower salary. It didn't quite work that way. I still get my 10 paid days off, but I can now take whatever I want (within reason) unpaid.

Many people think it's crazy that I would accept less pay or take unpaid time, but there are things more important than money.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
My current job only gives me ten paid days a year. When my priorities changed about a year ago, I had a discussion with HR. I attempted to get more time off in exchange for a lower salary. It didn't quite work that way. I still get my 10 paid days off, but I can now take whatever I want (within reason) unpaid.

Many people think it's crazy that I would accept less pay or take unpaid time, but there are things more important than money.
Yours is a mature position to take. You seem to realize that your total pay takes into account wages, FICA, holidays, PTO, health insurance, training costs, and all other benefits. If you want to increase one element of this, you must surrender some other benefit to pay for it. I'm glad you are working with a company who is flexible enough to allow you this option, and that you seem to not be resentful that they didn't offer to just pay you the same but allow you to take twice as much vacation. Many people seem to want this.

As a business owner with about 30 employees I must walk a tightrope in this area. Sure, I'd be happy to give everyone six weeks vacation -- if I could pay them 10% less to make up for it. But then they will feel they can't make a living wage and will leave (after taking their six weeks paid vacation within the first 3 months of the year, of course )

We are happy to provide unpaid leave as needed or desired beyond the 1-4 weeks paid the person gets, depending on tenure and position. This seems to me to be the best system for grown-ups -- we pay a high salary and don't give much vacation; you choose to keep the salary and work most of the year, or to exchange it for additional weeks off. That way everyone gets to scratch whichever itch is strongest for them. The more inflexible option is the European one of forcing everyone to accept a lower wage than you would otherwise pay them but then take 6-8 weeks off the job. This works great for some people, while others I'm sure would prefer to make the extra cash. Long live free choice!
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Old 07-14-10, 07:44 AM
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Some interesting perspectives, it sounds like some US employers are more flexible than others. Unfortunately, many of the DoE run facilities for example, are not. I even heard of people having to take unpaid leave to attend their parents funerals for example.

Life in France is pretty awesome, when I first arrived I used to get pissed at the frequent strikes. I guess you realise that the alternative is an economy run by business for business... If you get married in France for example, that's a straight weeks holiday, same for birth of a child, something similar for bereavement and so on.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:47 AM
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Good points from NoGaBiker btw with the perspective from small-medium business, which I do not claim to comment on. Personally, given the chance to participate in an up and coming venture and perhaps share in some of the risk and reward, I would be more than happy to take a more flexible approach. My opinions above are based on experience of working in large (1000's of employees) organisations.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
So, most long distance touring cyclists here seem to be either young people taking some time off after college before letting the Career swallow them or retired people or those lucky enough to work for themselves or those who made extra effort to set up their lives differently from others.
That was pretty much what I encountered when I jumped into the touring world via ACA's Northern Tier Tour. Of the 12 people, 2 had one more year left of undergrad, 1 had just finished undergrad and 1 had just finished 2 years of grad school. 5 were 60 or over and retired. 1 was a teacher in her 50s. Myself and 1 other person were age 35. We had both been laid off. I knew my layoff was coming at least 2 years before it happened. I had always structured my life to have freedom, which included saving rather than spending a lot on luxuries (I know. Anti-American.) in the event I ever wanted to do something out of the norm. When I knew I would eventually be laid off (I actually volunteered to be laid off), I became very agressive in saving money so I could take serious time off. I got a decent severance package considering I had only been with the company for 3 years when I was canned. This, and my preparation, allowed me to take 2 years off from the working world. During that time I rode 10,000 loaded miles on 3 tours: 2 in the U.S. and 1 in southern Spain.

Now that I am working again, I have to settle for shorter trips as I have only 3 weeks of vacation. But I am seriously considering asking for a 4-month leave of absence next year to cross the country again. Don't think I will get it because we are understaffed, but it is worth a shot. In the event that I do get lucky, I am saving now to help cover the mortgage during the period I am not working.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:18 AM
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Here in Korea I get 20 days paid vacation plus 10 national holidays. Thats not all that bad. However, I have it easy as an educated foreigner. Most Koreans work six days a week for 10-12 hours. Things are changing and the government wants to reduce the work week for blue collar workers.

The worst part if for the students. I teach elementary school and their schedule is f-ing nuts! Here is a typical conversation where I am attempting to teach a lesson about what the students hobbies are:

Me: So, what do you do after school Woonsuk?
Woonsuk: I got to English cram school.
Me: Oh... what do you do after your English cram school?
Woonsuk: I got to math school.
Me: wow, what about after that, play video games?
Woonsuk: No, I go to Taekwondo.
Me: Jesus, well after you are done with all your different classes, when you get home, what do you do?
Woonsuk: Home work.
Me: *PALM FACE*

Totally typical here.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:38 AM
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Ah, this thread touched a nerve... I woke up too late to this. I should have started making some real efforts to become more financially independent a long time ago, which would have been possible if I wasn't lazy and didn't let the American way of living suck me in. I had a good chance at becoming freelance computer consultant or start in the field of stock photography. Both would have allowed me to work less and make just enough money to cover a modest living without the unnecessary excess. But both required a lot of work to start and I was just too freaking lazy. I wasn't really thinking in these terms when I was in my late 20s, early 30s. Also, due to the American reality I had another problem: I had some health issues in early 30s so working for large corporation or academic organization was the only way to get really good medical benefits. Now, my health is better actually so I could get away with much less.

Maybe it's the midlife crisis, or my European origins started to show but I started feeling this way a few years back, I'm 43yo now. Now, I would gladly given up most of my possessions and comforts for more free time. I tried negotiating a 4 day workweek to have long weekends, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. I mean, I don't want big houses, fancy cars, I don't even need a TV and I'd settle for lower standard of living if it meant more free time but that's against the American way: you'd become a freak, an outcast. No car? No TV? Weirdo... Although, I don't think I'd care any more.

But first, living in NYC kind of cages you in, second having a decent job for 15+ years makes you afraid of changes. There are so many things I'd like to do but I don't have enough time: bicycle touring, hiking, photography, learn other languages, learn to play piano, do more reading, go back to my airplane building hobby from my childhood, fly RC helicopters, etc. I tried to merge some together but it doesn't always work out, like carrying a lot of photo gear on a bicycle tour. I still have more time than others in my position because I have no children and never will, but I'm just a big kid myself and I feel caged. I'm simply tired of working just to maintain a lifestyle that is required by the society. I think I need to move out of NYC as the first step. This place is killing me.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:40 AM
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My American sister and brother-in-law just took 12 months to travel the world (not on bikes). They are now 29 years old. They meet when they were, I think, 21. Basically set this goal of traveling the world early in their relationship and made nearly every decision since as to make the goal a reality. Helps that my sister is a freelancer and my brother-in-law was between grad school and a career when the trip occurred. But, hey, they planned for that to happen. Long-term vision -- something I lack!

The real factor that made it work, though, was a willingness to live on a sum of money much less than they made. I don't know the details, but I think they put away basically one whole salary of theirs for years.

I've been thinking about this alot lately but as much as we talk about "the American work ethic" it seems the true American dream is to not work. The key to doing that - as in getting out of the workforce early or to make some arrangements to prioritize something alongside work - is to live off of much less than what one makes. That though turns into the battle between immediate gratification - beer, a new house, dining out, etc. - and putting away most of the extra for that which really matters. For bike tourers, it would seem that would be time to tour (and money to live off of while not working).

Another major factor in all of this, from my perspective, is health insurance. As health insurance is tied to employment (for the most part), one has to have a job to have the health insurance. Imagine how we could all go chase our dreams - and maybe contribute more to society - with such a basic need accounted for. Health insurance and school loans - those things that keep me indebted to the corporate machine.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
Ah, this thread touched a nerve... I woke up too late to this. I should have started making some real efforts to become more financially independent a long time ago, which would have been possible if I wasn't lazy and didn't let the American way of living suck me in.
Hmmm. We must have been thinking on a similar plane at the same time!
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Old 07-14-10, 08:42 AM
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The more inflexible option is the European one of forcing everyone to accept a lower wage than you would otherwise pay them but then take 6-8 weeks off the job. This works great for some people, while others I'm sure would prefer to make the extra cash. Long live free choice!
Actually in my line of work nobody takes anywhere near the complete holiday. The rest goes in an account and is paid off at the end of contract. Pretty flexible, and the national laws prevent exploitation of workers in other companies/areas.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by John Coloccia View Post
I have 3 weeks of vacation. I just took a 2 month sabbatical. In the US, we get what we want by demanding it, not by hoping someone will "give" it to us. ....
Go demand 5 more weeks of vacation from your boss. Then tell us how well that worked out.
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Old 07-14-10, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by do-well View Post
Another major factor in all of this, from my perspective, is health insurance. As health insurance is tied to employment (for the most part), one has to have a job to have the health insurance. Imagine how we could all go chase our dreams - and maybe contribute more to society - with such a basic need accounted for. Health insurance and school loans - those things that keep me indebted to the corporate machine.
Yup. Although I didn't borrow for college, my first job at the university provided tuition benefit so I could get my degree, (although I still managed to get in debt that took years to get rid of) Otherwise I would not be able to get higher education and decent healthcare. You can't even get healthcare benefits if you work part time. You're pretty much forced to work a fulltime job or have no health insurance. But yeah, if I had a decent govt healthcare, I wouldn't need a fulltime job so I could do some odd freelance jobs while investing more time in my photography and other things. I bet I would be a much happier person.
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