Expedia.com has released the results of the 2011 Vacation Deprivation study, an annual analysis of vacation habits across multiple countries and continents. The 2011 study was conducted online among 7,803 employed adults in September and October 2011 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.com in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. It reveals who gets – and takes – the most vacation, as well as attitudes toward vacation. Common themes impacting how and where people take vacation include money, romance and disapproving bosses.
“At Expedia, we believe travel experiences on vacation are an essential part of living a balanced, meaningful life,” said Scott Durchslag, President of Expedia Worldwide. “But perspectives on this differ around the world. 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, feeling vacation is a right rather than a privilege. Asians take the fewest days of vacation and spend them secretly checking emails. I am convinced this is a false choice because vacations allow employees to rejuvenate, sharpen the saw, connect with new cultures, and renew their relationships. It is no coincidence that the happiest, well-balanced employees are the most innovative and productive.”
Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation study surveyed 7,803 employed adults across 20 countries. It asked employed individuals to share the number of vacation days (as distinct from mandated holidays) they take each year, what obstacles they face, where they prefer to holiday and how they behave on arrival. Among the findings:
* 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. The study showed that Brazilian workers receive 30 vacation days and enjoy every one of them.
* Americans treat vacation as a luxury rather than a fact of life. Americans 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 US workers earned in 2010 was 15 days; the number taken was 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.
* American vacation habits are more like Asians’ than Europeans’. 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.
* Money and planning are the most commonly-cited reasons for not taking vacation. Overall, 22% of respondents said they believed they could not afford it, and 20% said “lack of planning.” The US leads the world in money worries: 1 out of 3 Americans say that they can’t afford vacation. However, almost 50% of US 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%). Brazilians chose “lack of planning” as their top reason.
* The world’s least supportive bosses work in Italy and South Korea. Most workers reported that their bosses are largely supportive of vacation – Americans find that 73% of their bosses are supportive. The reverse was true in Italy (56% boss disapproval) and South Korea (52%), where respondents were most likely to believe management frowns on employee vacations or were unsure. Work/life balance seems to be most prevalent in northern Europe, with Norway and Sweden boasting the highest boss-approval percentages (88% and 82%, respectively.)
* 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% refusing to check in even once. Americans, too, prefer to disconnect when on vacation, with only 25% checking in regularly, and 75% checking in sometimes or never. More than 50% of French, Japanese, Indian and Italian workers remain tightly connected to the office while on vacation.
* 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). Romance was the preferred option for the Japanese as well, unlike Argentineans and Mexicans, who were four or five times as likely to select the beach as they were to choose a romantic holiday, a city getaway or an outdoor adventure. The Dutch were the outdoorsiest vacationers, while Singaporeans prefer the city.