World Vacation Time Scorecard: Austria - 38, US - Zero

See the total number of paid vacation days plus paid national holidays.

— -- Are you one of those folks who looks at a picture of a beautiful Caribbean beach and says, "some day," but some day never comes? Join the crowd. Many Americans take a perverse pride in overworking, as though taking a long or even short vacation trip is a sign of weakness.

That's nuts.

Vacation breaks are good for you mentally and physically, according to research. If you're worried too many days off will turn you into a dull-witted slug, everyone knows that travel is a learning experience, or, as Mark Twain put it, "Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime."

Many governments recognize this, too, at least according to recent figures. See the total number of paid vacation days plus paid national holidays in force for different nations. It's an eye-opener.

  • Austria: 38
  • Portugal: 35
  • Spain: 34
  • Italy and France: 31
  • Belgium, Germany and New Zealand: 30
  • United States: 0
  • That's nuts, too, but it could be worse. A report by the state news agency in China says 72 percent of Chinese workers haven't taken a paid vacation in three years!

    Believe me, I get it. In today's economic climate, some feel a strategy of working harder and working longer will keep them off the layoff list. Yet, vacations can make people more productive at work (while keeping family members on a first-name basis). I have a couple ideas for hard-working, non-vacationing folks out there to ease into the concept of taking time off.

    Use it or lose it: Some companies (maybe yours) won't let you carry over vacation time, so as of midnight Dec. 31, those recharging days are gone for good. Don't give away precious perks you've worked so hard for.

    Don't sit home

    Re-read Mr. Twain's comment -- no vegetating.

    Start slow: Take a weekend trip -- or two or three. Yes, flying on Fridays and Sundays is usually expensive (popular days to fly always are) but you can often lower the price simply by moving your itinerary to Saturday-Tuesday or Thursday-Monday. Or check out specific weekend deals offered by airlines such as American and United.

    Fly short hauls

    Another way to keep costs down is take hub-to-hub flights lasting no more than 90 minutes or so. These are usually immune to the big price swings.

    Find a deal to a dream destination

    If you've always wanted to go to Europe, by all means go. Airlines like Norwegian and WOW have incredible deals especially in the off-peak, non-summer season. Can't find a deal? Set airfare alerts for your dream destinations and let the deals will come to you.

    One last piece of advice: Sure, take your phone, but could you leave the laptop at home?

    The opinions expressed in this article are those of Rick Seaney and do not reflect those of ABC News.