Study Reveals Global Mindset Toward Vacation, and Americans Are Lagging

More than half of American workers feel vacation deprived, possibly because they are offered almost half the vacation days that many European employees receive. These were just two of the findings from Expedia’s 14th annual “Vacation Deprivation” study.

Oh to be European with 28 days of vacation a year. That’s nearly twice the average 15 days Americans were offered this year, according to online travel site Expedia’s “2014 Vacation Deprivation” study.

While Americans are no strangers to vacation deprivation, the latest iteration of Expedia’s annual study illustrates the stark differences among global views of time off. For example, employees in Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain report taking every single one of the 30 days of vacation offered to them—same with workers in the United Arab Emirates. Asia-Pacific employees are less likely to take vacation. On average, workers in Australia took 15 out of 20 days offered, those in Japan took 10 out of 20, and South Korean workers took the least amount of vacation days at seven out of the 15.

While habits differ, the emotional impact of vacation does not.

While Americans are taking most of the days offered to them, 14 out of the 15 (up from last year, when they were offered 14 and took 12), more than half reported feeling vacation deprived. Somewhat surprisingly, 73 percent of UAE workers, who are taking the full 30 days offered to them, also reported feeling very or somewhat vacation deprived.

Of the nearly 8,000 people around the globe who were surveyed, 91 percent reported vacations were important to overall health, and more than half would switch jobs if offered more vacation.

More than 50 percent of respondents also said they would give up junk food for one week in exchange for an extra day of vacation. This was followed by alcohol (48 percent), social media (42 percent), television (37 percent), and coffee (35 percent).

“While habits differ, the emotional impact of vacation does not,” John Morrey, vice president and general manager of, said in a statement. “Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people worldwide say that vacations make them feel happier, better rested, closer to their family, less stressed, and more relaxed. These are all emotions that correlate to a productive employee. So it’s almost paradoxical: spend more time away from work, and you might just be a better performing employee.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Travel Association launched a campaign that encourages Americans to take more time off and emphasizes the benefits of time away from the office on employee performance.

“This is an issue that goes well beyond the travel industry,” USTA President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “A growing body of evidence shows that when we fail to take the time off we have earned, we are less productive and creative at work, we put stress on our relationships, and we undermine our personal health and well-being. Our initiative is simple and straightforward: Americans aren’t using all the days off they are entitled to, and we have to change that.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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