Maybe it’s because in Colorado we’re surrounded by natural beauty. Maybe it’s because we value fitness and getting outdoors, or because we like to work hard and play hard. Whatever the reason, Coloradans lead the nation in vacation days earned and taken.

A new report released Aug. 8 found that Colorado workers take an average of 20.3 vacation days per year — the most of any state and three days more than the national average of 17.2 days.

The report from Project: Time Off and AAA also stated that Colorado workers earn 27.9 days each year, compared with 23.2 days nationwide. The report was based on an online survey of 4,349 employees who work more than 35 hours a week. The survey was conducted Jan. 14-23, 2018.

Colorado’s unemployment rate is historically low — 2.7 percent, compared with 4.0 percent nationally, so employers are offering generous vacation packages in order to attract and keep employees.

According to the report, Colorado workers value paid time off as much as health care plans when it comes to employment benefits. Nationwide, workers said health care was more valuable to them than vacation time.

Coloradans use 57 percent of their vacation days to travel, far more than the national average of 47 percent.

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Most Coloradans (74 percent) said they hadn’t seen enough of the country, but the state’s workers on average have visited six national parks (many in their own backyard), topping the national average of four parks and close to the top of the list for all states.

“There are undeniable economic benefits of using the vacation days you’ve earned,” AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said. “If you use your vacation days, you’re more likely to like your job and your company than if you don’t. You’re also more likely to be promoted or receive a raise or bonus. With Colorado leading every other state in vacation days earned and vacation days used, it’s no wonder our unemployment rate is so low.”

Workers, however, recognized some barriers to travel.

Eighty-five percent of Coloradans surveyed said cost was a top barrier, compared with 71 percent nationally. More than half (61 percent) said they preferred saving over splurging (37 percent) while on vacation. Colorado workers preferred saving much more than the average American — the national average was 52 percent for limiting vacation spending and 47 percent for indulging.

And it wouldn’t be Colorado if dogs weren’t in the mix. Pets are viewed as the No. 2 barrier to travel (57 percent), much higher than the national average of 37 percent.

Here are more key findings from the survey:

• Colorado (20.3 days), Virginia (18.9 days) and Arizona (18.8 days) lead the nation in using the most vacation time.

• Montana (16.3 days), Delaware (16.5 days) and Rhode Island (16.5 days) are home to the nation’s most under-vacationed workers.

• Virginia is at the top of the list for vacation days spent traveling (12.2 days), with Colorado (11.7 days) and New Jersey (11.1 days) rounding out the top three.

• South Dakota (4.3 days), Missouri (5.2 days) and Iowa (5.4 days) are traveling the least when taking vacation days, falling well below the national average of eight days.

• The vast majority of Americans (88 percent) are in search of a warm climate, but none more so than West Virginians.

• Most say they prefer to indulge rather than be healthy (63 percent) on vacation, particularly Nevadans.

• The big spenders are in Tennessee and New Jersey, where 64 percent in both states say they like to splurge on travel.

• The traditional weeklong trip is still the gold standard for most Americans, with 72 percent saying they prefer that length over a long-weekend vacation.

Read more about vacation time in America at Project: Time Off’s website.