Americans are leaving more than half a billion vacation days on the table

David and Samantha Cameron lead the way in European vacationing.
David and Samantha Cameron lead the way in European vacationing.
Image: Reuters/Stefan Rousseau
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The Western world thinks Americans work too hard, and they may be right.

In 2013, Americans only used 10 out of 14 vacation days, leaving more than 577 million days untouched, according to an Expedia survey of 8,535 people across 24 countries. That’s more than twice as many as the year before.

What’s their excuse? More than a third of Americans said they had to push off planned vacations due to unforeseen work, while around a quarter claimed to be saving up their allotted holiday for a big trip in the future. They can’t blame their offices, though: the survey found that 76% of bosses in the US are supportive of their employees taking time off, compared to the global average of 65%.

The vacation rate is even worse in Japan, where the average worker took just one week off in the year, leaving 11 vacation days untouched. South Korea and Thailand showed similar patterns to the US, with workers accepting around 70% of their allotted paid leave.

It’s a different story in Europe. Not only do some European countries offer twice as much paid holiday as America, but their workers are better at taking this time off. The average French adult, for example, uses all 30 vacation days available.

Americans are better at switching off when they do take vacation, though. More than 90% of French adults said they check work email and voicemail while on vacation, compared to two-thirds of US workers. Perhaps that has something to do with why 90% of French workers said they feel “vacation deprived.”

For some workers, it’s just not worth it: 10% of Americans said they can never relax on vacation, anyway.