Skift Take

Besides the health issues involved with overwork, the U.S. tourism economy could benefit a lot more if Americans could take more vacations.

Americans are working even more and taking even less holidays this year, according to Expedia as part of its 2013 Vacation Deprivation study, an annual analysis of vacation habits among 8,535 employed adults across 24 countries and five continents.

So much so that Americans are now treating vacations as a luxury rather than a right: Over the past year, Americans could have taken 14 days of vacation and took 10, leaving 4 days on the table, twice as many as the year prior. There are currently just over 144 million employed Americans, according to recent BLS data, meaning that Americans collectively failed to take more than five hundred million (577,212,000) available days of vacation.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise to us overworked Americans, but the extent to which we have worked ourselves evident from the other end of the spectrum: French lead the world in vacationing, taking all 30 possible days available to them.

One surprising fact: Americans are less connected on holidays than Europeans, according to the survey. About two thirds (67%) of vacationing Americans remain tethered to the office, while 93% of the French claim to “constantly, regularly or sometimes” check work emails and voicemails while on holiday. 94% of Indians, 92% of Thais, 91% of Malaysians and 91% of Mexicans do the same. Only 43% of Germans and 46% of the British remain tightly connected to work while on break.

As for why people leave vacation days unused, there is a complex set of factors and calculation behind it: The most commonly cited reason is a desire to stockpile, with 25% of those who leave vacation days unused report that they “like to accumulate vacation days for trips that I may take in the future.”

Among other reasons:

  • Complex scheduling: 22% say it is “difficult to coordinate a time that works for me and my spouse/partner/family”
  • Financial opportunism: 18% report that they can be paid for unused vacation days, a practice common in India (37%), Brazil (30%) and Spain (27%)
  • Financial worry: 16% believe they simply cannot afford a vacation
  • Failure to plan: 15% say that if they don’t schedule vacations far enough in advance, they never seem to be able to take all of it
  • Plain old work: 11% say that work is “their life” and that it is hard to get away
  • Workplace insecurity: 8% report they feel “important work decisions” will be made in their absence
  • Mean bosses: 8% feel taking every available day will be perceived negatively.

More on the survey, in the infographic below:

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.03.53 AMScreen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.04.04 AM


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Tags: expedia

Photo credit: Overworked and under-vacationed. Andrés Nieto Porras / Flickr

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