Americans will leave 500 million unused vacation days on the table this year
Americans are working even more and taking even less holidays this year, according to Expedia's 2013 Vacation Deprivation study, an annual analysis of vacation habits among 8,535 employed adults across 24 countries and five continents.
Americans are now treating vacations as a luxury rather than a right: Over the past year, typical Americans could have taken 14 days of vacation and took 10, leaving four days on the table, twice as many as the year prior. There are currently just over 144 million employed Americans, according to recent BLS data, meaning that Americans collectively failed to take 577,212,000 available days of vacation.
That shouldn't come as a surprise to us overworked Americans, but the extent to which we have worked ourselves is evident from the other end of the spectrum: The French lead the world in vacationing, taking all 30 possible days available to them.
One surprising fact: Americans are less connected on holidays than Europeans, according to the survey. About two thirds (67 percent) of vacationing Americans remain tethered to the office, while 93 percent of the French claim to "constantly, regularly, or sometimes" check work emails and voicemails while on holiday. Ninety-four percent of Indians, 92 percent of Thais, 91 percent of Malaysians, and 91 percent of Mexicans do the same. Only 43 percent of Germans and 46 percent of the British remain tightly connected to work while on break.
As for why people leave vacation days unused, there is a complex set of factors and calculation behind it: The most commonly cited reason is a desire to stockpile, with 25 percent of those who leave vacation days unused reporting that they "like to accumulate vacation days for trips that I may take in the future."
Among other reasons:
- Complex scheduling: 22 percent say it is "difficult to coordinate a time that works for me and my spouse/partner/family"
- Financial opportunism: 18 percent report that they can be paid for unused vacation days, a practice common in India (37 percent), Brazil (30 percent), and Spain (27 percent)
- Financial worry: 16 percent believe they simply cannot afford a vacation
- Failure to plan: 15 percent say that if they don't schedule vacations far enough in advance, they never seem to be able to take all of it
- Plain old work: 11 percent say that work is "their life" and that it is hard to get away
- Workplace insecurity: 8 percent report they feel "important work decisions" will be made in their absence
- Mean bosses: 8 percent feel taking every available day will be perceived negatively
More on the survey in the infographic below:
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