Americans, Japanese and Koreans take fewest vacation days; French, Spanish, Dutch and Brazilian workers take most

Learn more by visiting the 2011 Expedia Vacation Deprivation study site.

BELLEVUE, Wash., Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —®, the world’s leading online travel agency, today 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 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.




More details on the 2011 Vacation Deprivation study can be found here:

“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.

More Fun Facts

Who thinks their boss will judge them for taking vacation?

The world’s meanest bosses*

Italy (56% disapprove)
South Korea (52%)
Argentina (47%)
Denmark (46%)

The world’s nicest bosses*

Norway (only 12% disapprove)
Sweden (18%)
Netherlands (21%)
Canada (22%)

* Measured by perceived disapproval of vacation time.

Everyone loves the beach

The top vacation types, by category:
Beach holiday (38%)
Romantic holiday (19%)
City holiday (13%)
Outdoor holiday (11%)

Why we skip vacations

Top rationales for skipping vacation include:
Money: 38%
Failure to plan: 20%
Work is my life: 10%


About Expedia is the world’s leading online travel site, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. (, 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of vacation packages, flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and in-destination activities, attractions, and services. With the Expedia Best Price Guarantee, customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.

Expedia and are trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2011 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST: 2029030-50

Methodology Statement

Harris Interactive® fielded the online survey on behalf of from September 19 – October 9, 2011 in following countries among nationwide cross-sections of the employed adult populations. Also listed with the countries are the total sample size for each country and the makeup of the target audience, either employed adults age 16+ or employed adults age 18+:

North America

United States: 520 employed adults, age 18+

Canada: 1080 employed adults, age 18+

Mexico: 411 employed adults, age 16+

South America

Argentina: 301 employed adults, age 16+

Brazil: 308 employed adults, age 16+


United Kingdom: 440 employed adults, age 18+

Germany: 402 employed adults, age 18+

France: 409 employed adults, age 18+

Italy: 400 employed adults, age 16+

Spain: 428 employed adults, age 18+

Norway: 300 employed adults, age 18+

Sweden: 300 employed adults, age 18+

Denmark: 301 employed adults, age 18+

Ireland: 301 employed adults, age 18+

Netherlands: 300 employed adults, age 16+


Japan: 300 employed adults, age 18+

India: 302 employed adults, age 16+

South Korea: 300 employed adults, age 16+

Singapore: 300 employed adults, age 16+


Australia: 400 employed adults, age 16+

Respondents for this survey will be selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Each country was weighted using propensity scores* and/or demographic data to reflect the country’s employed adult population as a whole. Exceptions to this are Brazil, Singapore and Mexico, which were weighted to reflect the online employed adult population of each country. In India, only three regions were surveyed: Delhi (n=100), Mumbai (n=102), and Hyderabad/Chennai/Bangalore (n=100). These three regions were then weighted together to reflect their population size.

For the global 20-country total, an additional post-weight was applied to adjust for the relative size of each country’s employed adult population within the total adult population across all countries surveyed.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

*Propensity score weighting is a proprietary technique developed by Harris Interactive® which takes into account behavioral and attitudinal differences between the online and non-online populations, enabling us to weight data collected online to be representative of all adults, not only those who are just online.



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