French Take Most Vacation, Feel Least Satisfied

Expedia's 2013 Vacation Deprivation Survey reveals work-life habits worldwide.

Nov. 19, 2013— -- A new poll reveals that a striking number of vacation days went unused by Americans in the past year.

According to Expedia's 2013 Vacation Deprivation survey, an opt-in online "analysis of vacation habits among 8,535 employed adults across 24 countries and five continents," Americans were afforded on average 14 days of vacation but only took 10.

With approximately 144 million Americans currently employed, that means collectively more than 500 million available days of vacation were not taken.

"No one retires wishing they'd spent more time at their desk," said John Morrey, vice president and general manager, "There are countless reasons that vacation days go unused – failure to plan, worry, forgetfulness, you name it. But rested employees are more productive employees, so taking regular vacations may well help the company more than failing to do so."

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The most commonly cited reason for not taking vacation days was to "stockpile" them for the future, reported the study, with 25 percent of those who left vacation days unused stating they "like to accumulate vacation days for trips that I may take in the future." Other reasons for not taking time off included scheduling difficulties (22 percent), being paid for unused vacation days (18 percent), lack of funds (16 percent), poor planning (15 percent), commitments at work (11 percent ), workplace insecurity (8 percent) or mean bosses (8 percent).

But America is not the most vacation-deprived nation, as it turns out. That unfortunate title was awarded to Japan and South Korea, announced the report.

"While the Japanese are given a generous 18 vacation days [the global average is 20], they only take seven," according to the survey. "South Koreans also take seven of a possible 10 days."

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Ironically, the country that leads the world in vacationing also reported feeling the most bereft: 90 percent of employed French adults either strongly or somewhat agree with the sentence, "I feel vacation deprived," despite "taking all 30 possible days available to them."

That seemingly conflicting data may be attributed to the fact that of the nations included in the survey, the French were also least likely to completely unplug when away.

"While French adults may take the most vacation, they also stay the most connected to work while on vacation, with 93 percent of the French claiming to "constantly, regularly, or sometimes" check work emails and voicemails while on holiday," said Sarah Gavin, Expedia's communications director.

Some 94 percent of Indians, 92 percent of Thais, 91 percent of Malaysians and 91 percent of Mexicans reported they did the same.

By comparison, the two-thirds (67 percent) of vacationing Americans that remain virtually tied to the office almost makes the U.S. seem relaxed.