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Americans and Japanese take far less time off — but Europeans say they’re more ‘vacation deprived’

Nearly two in three workers around the world are “vacation deprived,” according to a new report published by Expedia.

However, the report shows the feeling is highest among cultures that take the most days off.

Some 84% of Germans and 69% of French respondents said they feel they don’t have enough time off, according to Expedia’s “Vacation Deprivation Report” published on June 20. That’s despite respondents from both countries taking the most vacation days — 27 days and 29 days, respectively — in the survey.

The survey of more than 11,500 workers showed Americans take the least time off per year (11 days), followed by Japan (12 days). However, only 53% of Japanese said they feel “vacation deprived” compared to 65% of Americans, it showed.

The survey — Expedia’s 24th annual report on the topic — shows that while vacation deprivation rates have decreased in many parts of the world, the feeling is at an 11-year high in the United States.

What’s happening in France and Germany?

Expedia’s report indicates that feeling “vacation deprived” has less to do with the actual time off one takes, and more to do with cultural mores around work and free time.

“The French overwhelmingly view time off as a basic, fundamental right, while Americans seem to treat is as a guilty pleasure,” said Christie Hudson, head of public relations for Expedia in the United States. “This is why not even a month seems like enough time to the average French worker.”

Americans take less time off but Europeans say they're more 'vacation deprived'

Among Germans, however, only 42% said they feel their employers are supportive of them taking their vacation time, the lowest rate across all markets, said Hudson.

“This can contribute to guilt and being unable to unplug and feel refreshed after vacation,” she said, adding that “vacation deprivation” can result from feeling unable to use the days off you are given, she said.

Wasted vacation days

Despite most workers indicating they feel vacation deprived, respondents from nearly every location admitted to letting some of their annual leave lapse.

Hong Kongers, however, meticulously planned their leave, not allowing a single day to go unused, on average, the report showed. Interestingly, Hong Kong was the only location where workers said they planned to take more time off than they’re given, said Hudson.

“In 2024, 15% of Hong Kongers plan on taking 31 vacation days, exceeding the average allotted 25.5 days,” said Hudson. “It’s an interesting finding and could be linked to the fact that they seem to have a strong pro-PTO culture: 80% of Hong Kong workers agree that their employers are supportive of employees taking their vacation time, which is one of the highest rates globally.”

That could mean that “those few extra days here and there are overlooked,” she said.

Singaporeans, too, carefully plan their time off, allowing only one of their 20 days of annual leave to lapse, according to the report.

But those in Japan aren’t nearly as focused on maximizing their days off, it showed. Respondents there left seven out of 19 days on the table, on average.

One big break vs. many mini-breaks

Japanese respondents reported feeling the lowest levels of “vacation deprivation,” despite taking only 12 days off per year, according to the report.

The report suggested this may have to do with how Japanese plan and spend their days off, it said.

Nearly one in three workers in Japan take a day off monthly, compared to just 5% in the United States, according to Expedia’s report.

“In Japan, people take time off every month instead of just twice a year,” said Melanie Fish, head of Expedia Group brands public relations. 

Many schedule these mini-breaks around federal and school holidays to allow for quick, yet frequent breaks from their routines, according to the report.

The French also employ a similar strategy, spreading their days throughout the year, it said.

Americans, on the other hand, tend to save their time off for a big annual trip, which is associated with why they tend to allow some annual leave to go unused, it said.

“Taking the pressure off a big annual trip can be a time, money and PTO saver for deprived U.S. travelers,” the report states.

Among Americans who left some of their leave on the table in 2023, more than half indicated it was because “life is too busy to plan or go on vacation,” it said.

Additionally, Americans don’t prioritize rest and relaxation during their trips the way that other nationalities do, according to the report. Only 61% reported doing so “while it’s the number one goal for 84% of Japanese travelers,” according to Expedia’s report.

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