Americans Get Less Vacation Time and Don’t Even Use It

on November 30 2011 4:55 PM
American Tourist
A new survey from Expedia.com shows that U.S. employees get less vacation time than nearly every other country - worse still, Americans don't even use all of it. REUTERS

A new survey confirms what many U.S. employees already know: Americans work too hard, and a rarely vacation.

According to a survey released on Wednesday by Expedia.com, the typical American employee earns 14 days off a year, but takes only 12. That's compared to the typical European employee that earns between 25 and 30 vacation days annually and takes them all.

The wide-ranging Vacation Deprivation study queried roughly 7,800 adults in 20 countries about how much vacation time they earn and take as well as their attitudes regarding time off.

Americans received on average one day less of vacation this year compared to the 15 days in the 2010 Expedia.com poll. This paltry number is less than half of what workers in countries like Germany (30) and France (30) receive. However, America is not the most miserly nation for vacation; Japanese receive on average 11 vacation days and use only 7 of them. South Koreans, meanwhile, receive on average 10 days and use only 7 of them.

So why don't Americans take all of their 14 days? Despite working the other 50 weeks of the year, 34% of those surveyed said they couldn't afford it. That percentage is higher than any other country surveyed. The only other nation that comes close to meeting Americans' financial concerns in regards to vacation time is Mexico at 32%. Given the wide gap in incomes between the two countries, this statistic may be a telling indicator of the perceived concerns Americans have toward vacation.

Americans tend to prefer something nicer for a shorter period of time, Vicky Mary, president of Victoria Travel, told IBTimes. I think it goes back to the American personality. You see all this gorgeous stuff on TV so you think you should have a desk that's marble when you go on your vacation.

Mary said she's noticed the opposite is true of other nations. Canadians, for example, would generally prefer to stay in a mediocre hotel for longer.

Scott Durchslag, President of Expedia Worldwide, said that perspectives on vacation differ greatly around the world.

At Expedia, we believe travel experiences on vacation are an essential part of living a balanced, meaningful life.  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.

Europeans work to live, Durchslag said, feeling vacation is a right rather than a privilege.

Americans differ from Europeans and others in their taste in vacation times as well. For instance, only 35% of Americans surveyed would choose the summer to take their main vacation. That's compared to an average of 52% from all nations queried. For some nations like Sweden and Argentina, that number was at our near 75%.

Americans show a preference for autumn that is much larger than the global average at 29% (U.S.) vs. 17% (Global).

It's a great time for Americans to go to Europe, Mary notes. Rates go down and travelers can take part in all the cultural events and festivals of the fall.

READ ALSO: The Science Behind Vacations: Why we Need a Break

So where do Americans go on vacation? 20% said they did not travel at all. That's double what was reported by the rest of the world and pales in comparison to places like India and Singapore where 97% reported traveling away from home on vacation.

One thing Americans do seem to have right is the concept of truly getting away. Just 4% said they maintain constant contact with home and work on vacation by using computers and cell phones - far below the global average.

Other highlights from the Expedia.com survey:

- Brazilians outpace even holiday-hungry Europeans in making use of their time off. They typically earn 30 vacation days and use them all.

- American vacation habits are more like Asians' than Europeans'.

- Asia represents the most vacation-deprived region in the 2011 Vacation Deprivation study.

- The Danish find it easiest to disconnect from work mode. Only 1 in 7 respondents said they check email while away and half said they never check it.

- Most people prefer beaches over romance. Globally, beach vacations are king. Twice as many respondents cited beach vacations as their preference, versus romantic holidays with spouse -- except in South Korea, which overwhelmingly chose romantic holidays (45% versus 27% favoring the beach).

More News from IBT MEDIA