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.
However, 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 U.S. 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 that of Asians. 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 10 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 believe they could not afford it, and 20% said “lack of planning.” The U.S. leads the world in money worries: one out of three Americans say they can’t afford vacation. However, almost 50% of U.S. 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.
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 e-mail 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.
Globally, beach vacations are favored. 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 preferred the outdoors the most, while Singaporeans prefer the city.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.