Last updated: 01:50 AM ET, Mon October 29 2012

Expedia Study Shows Americans Still Lag in Taking Vacations

Features & Advice | Expedia | Kate Rice | November 30, 2011

The new Expedia 2011 Vacation Deprivation study finds that Europeans lead the world in vacationing. On the whole, European workers enjoy considerably more vacation time, as measured by days given and days taken, than their peers elsewhere. The average employed European earns 25-30 vacation days in a given year, and, with some exceptions, tends to use them all. Brazilians treat vacation as the Europeans do -- as a vital part of being employed, rather than a luxury. Expedia’s study showed that Brazilian workers receive 30 vacation days and enjoy every one of them.

Americans, on the other hand, treat vacation as a luxury. They receive roughly half the Europeans' allotment of vacation time. In 2011, employed Americans earned 14 vacation days and took 12, a decrease from 2010. The median number of vacation days U.S. workers earned in 2010 was 15, but the number actually taken was only 12. In comparison, the French earned 30 vacation days and took all 30 in 2011. In 2010, the average French worker used all but one of their vacation days.

“Europeans work to live, feeling vacation is a right rather than a privilege,” said Scott Durchslag, president of Expedia Worldwide. “Americans can often live to work, viewing vacations as a guilty privilege to be downplayed around the workplace - especially if they are worried about their jobs.”

American vacation habits are more like Asian than European. Asia represents the most vacation-deprived region in the 2011 Vacation Deprivation study. Japanese workers trailed the field, taking a mere five vacation days out of 11 available, while South Korean respondents enjoyed seven out of a possible ten days of vacation. Last year, Japanese workers left six vacation days on the table, trailing only the Italians. Italian respondents reported that they left seven vacation days unused in the past year, more than any other nation, though Italians are not precisely vacation-deprived, having 28 days at their disposal.

Overall, 22 percent of respondents said they believed they could not afford a vacation, and 20 percent said they did not take a vacation due to a "lack of planning." The U.S. leads the world in money worries: one out of three Americans said they can’t afford vacation. However, almost 50 percent of U.S. workers describe their financial situation as "solid" or "good," which reinforces the notion that Americans view vacation as a luxury. Brazilian respondents, on the other hand, were least likely to see money as a vacation impediment (6 percent). Brazilians chose "lack of planning" as their top reason for not taking a vacation.

Most vacationers find it difficult to disconnect from work. The Danish find it easiest -- only one in seven respondents from Denmark report that they check email and voicemail regularly while on break, with more than 50 percent refusing to check in even once. Americans also prefer to disconnect when on vacation, with only 25 percent checking in regularly and 75 percent checking in sometimes or never. More than 50 percent of French, Japanese, Indian and Italian workers remain tightly connected to the office while on vacation.

In their vacation preferences, according to the study, most people prefer beaches to romance. Twice as many respondents cited beach vacations as their  preference compared with "romantic holidays with spouse" -- except South  Koreans, who overwhelmingly chose “romantic holidays” (45 percent versus 27 percent  favoring the beach). Romance was the preferred option for the Japanese as well, unlike Argentineans and Mexicans, who were four or five times as likely to select beach vacations as they were to choose a romantic holiday, a city getaway or an outdoor adventure. The Dutch preferred vacations in the outdoors, while Singaporeans prefer the city. Expedia’s study was conducted online by Harris Interactive in September and October among 7,803 employed adults worldwide.

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