Can you afford a vacation this year?

A recent survey by CareerBuilder, an online job site, found that a growing number of U.S. workers are finding it difficult to get away from work. Twenty-four percent of workers surveyed said they don’t have the money for a vacation this year, up from 21 percent in 2010.Beach+Pollution.jpg

Another 12 percent of the more than 5,000 full-time workers surveyed said they have the money, but still aren’t planning to take a vacation.

The good news is that with the economy improving, 36 percent of workers said “they feel more comfortable taking a vacation than they did in 2010,” CareerBuilder reported.

I’m a big believer in the restorative powers of a really wonderful vacation. Like sitting on the beach with my wife, Cheryl, and sipping pina coladas. Watching the dolphins swim. Reading a good book. Napping. Forgetting about work.

In contrast, I get really cranky when I end the year with unused vacation days. As much as I love my job, I absolutely hate giving days back to the company.

Sixteen percent of workers in the CareerBuilder survey said they lost unused vacation days in 2010.

Don’t be a16 percenter. It’s important to take a break from work, even if it’s taking a long weekend every now and then.

Take vacation. In the long run you will be more productive at work.

CareerBuilder survey

Photo: A surfer rides a wave at Topanga State Beach is seen in Malibu, Calif. (Associated Press/ Damian Dovarganes)