Expedia 2014 Vacation Deprivation Study

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Understanding why people don't take all of the vacation days they could

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I tell you that I, and more generally, Expedia, loves to travel.

The proof is in my passport, which got stamps from Spain, France, and Mexico over the course of last month alone. Yet looking at the results of Expedia’s 2014 Vacation Deprivation Study, you’d think that in some countries, people don’t like to do the same. Why, you ask? Well in some countries, as many as 50 percent of offered vacation days are not used by employees. Do that many people love their jobs so much that they’d rather come into the office than use every single one of their paid days off?

Now in its fourteenth year, the Expedia Vacation Deprivation Study has sought to observe the vacation habits of countries worldwide. Though it is one of our longest-running studies, we never cease to be amazed at some of the results. Last year, for example, we found that while the French largely use most of their vacation days, many of them don’t completely unplug, with 93 percent claiming to “constantly, regularly, or sometimes” check work emails and voicemails while on holiday.

Data from most years, however, have shown that Asian countries are among the most vacation-deprived in the world. And this year’s study is no exception. Employees in South Korea, for example, receive a full three weeks of vacation (similar to America), yet on average, they only use seven of those days. That’s nearly two weeks of paid vacation that go unused.

Viewfinder Tip: According to the 2014 Expedia Vacation Deprivation Study, Americans on average use all but one of their vacation days.

It would appear that Americans are taking their vacation time more seriously. This year’s study revealed that Americans are using more of their vacation time, on average using all but one of their vacation days (receiving, on average, 15 days of vacation).  That’s compared to last year, when Americans reported receiving fewer vacation days (14) but said they left more on the table (2 unused).

Europeans evidently have this vacation thing figured out, getting approximately twice as much vacation time as the rest of the world, and using nearly all of it. Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain get the most time off in Europe (30 days), and all four countries report using all of that time. Austria, Sweden, and Norway also use all of their vacation days, and get 25 of them. Maybe we should all take note, since Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have been listed among the top five happiest countries in recent years.

Reasons for vacation deprivation always are fascinating, too. While the most popular reason for not taking vacation time last year was so that people could carry over time, this year the No. 1 reason was that “work schedule does not allow for it.” This data seems to say more about employees’ bosses than employees themselves; in fact, this year’s study showed that only 55 percent of the world’s bosses approve of workers taking vacation time.

What can’t be questioned, however, is the happiness people receive from vacation. A whopping 80 percent of workers worldwide agreed that vacation time contributed to their overall happiness, with nearly one-fourth (24 percent) said they even would be willing to give up sex for a week in exchange for just one extra vacation day. Who says people don’t like to travel?

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Sarah Waffle Gavin

Sarah Gavin is Expedia’s Vice President of Global Communications, overseeing a team around the world that focus on telling travel’s great stories. Her passion lies in bringing people together through the shared experiences and mind-broadening phenomenon of travel – while revealing all the tips and tricks to getting the best value on vacation. Part foodie, part tech geek, part mom, part traveler, Sarah loves a mini staycation with her husband, as much as a power shop through New York. Her family trips are treasured above all else, and when she's not sitting poolside in Mexico with the kids, she hangs her hat in the burbs of Seattle, Washington at the intersection of travel, technology, and motherhood.

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