Americans Having Trouble Unplugging – Even When They Say They Want To

Wanted: Vacation getaway within walking distance of the beach. Must have Wi-Fi because we’re not sure we really want to get away on our vacation.

Based on a new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, that seems to be what Americans are asking for when they leave the office.

Saint Leo University asked Americans what their preference is when it comes to being “plugged in” while on vacation. Most Americans want to be able to stay connected to email, social media, and the Internet.

Specifically, the survey asked:

Some people try to “unplug” from technology while on vacation. When you were on vacation in the past 12 months, which one of the following statements best describes how you chose to interact with technology while on vacation.

16 % I unplugged entirely – did not connect to the internet, check my email, text, or use social media
9 % I used the Internet and social media but did not check email
14 % I checked my personal email but did not check my work email
18 % I went online or checked my email, but not more than once a day
18 % I cut back on going online, checking email, and using social media, but stayed mostly plugged in
13 % I stayed as plugged in as I usually am and did not cut back or unplug at all
12 % Don’t know / not sure


“What people want and what they actually do, are two different things,” said Ioannis Pantzalis, associate professor of international business at Saint Leo University. “The other interesting thing was that there really wasn’t any difference among the age groups. In today’s high-tech world, it’s really hard to remain truly ‘unplugged’ for an extended period of time,” said Pantzalis.

The survey asked:

Thinking about your next vacation, what is your preference for being plugged in to the Internet, email, and social media while on your next vacation?

22 % I want to be completely unplugged on vacation
36 % I want to be unplugged from anything work-related on vacation, but want to have access to everything else online including personal email, social media, and Internet
28 % I want to stay at least a little connected to work while on vacation, such as being able to respond to emails at my convenience
5 % I want to stay very connected to work while on vacation, almost like working remotely while being away
9 % Don’t know / not sure


The survey asked:

How would you react if you found out that the hotel or place you were staying on vacation did not have Internet, Wi-Fi, or cellular reception? Would you be

23 % Happy about not having internet / cellular access; I don’t want it on vacation
54 % Disappointed about not having Internet / cellular access; I prefer having it on vacation
12 % Stressed out about not having Internet / cellular access; I want or need it on vacation
11 % Don’t know / unsure


About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University nationwide poll of 1,013 adults including–748 likely voters–was conducted between September 29 and October 6, 2014. The margin of error on questions pertaining to national policies and issues is approximately 4.5 percent +/- with a 95 percent confidence level. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. Sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive–usually 50 cents deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account–for their participation.

Media Contacts: Kim Payne, staff writer and media coordinator, at or (352) 588-7233/(717) 798-1508 or Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager, at or (352) 588-8237/(352) 467-0843.