Aussies not taking holiday entitlements

According to an annual report commissioned by Expedia and undertaken by Northstar, Australians on average take only 75% of their annual leave entitlements:®, one of the world's largest full service online travel sites1, today released the results of the 2014 Vacation Deprivation® study, an annual study of vacation habits among 7,855 employed adults across 24 countries in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and South America. This is the study's 14th year. It continues to show a sharp disparity in vacation behavior across continents. 

Europeans, by far, enjoy more vacation time than their peers in Asia Pacific and North America, earning nearly twice as many paid vacation days every year.

"The Vacation Deprivation study looks at vacation habits across several different continents. While habits differ, the emotional impact of vacation does not. Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people worldwide say that vacations make them feel happier, better rested, closer to their family, less stressed, and more relaxed," said John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of "These are all emotions that correlate to a productive employee. So it's almost paradoxical: spend more time away from work, and you might just be a better performing employee."

Europeans Earn 28 Days Off on Average

The median number of vacation time available to employed Europeans is 28 days. 30 days are offered to residents of Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain. They take full advantage; residents of all four countries report having taken every day available to them. Their European peers trail them only slightly. United Kingdom residents take 25 of 26 days. Italians take 21 of 28 days. Austrians, Norwegians and the Swedish take 25 of 25 days off, while the Dutch take 24 of 25 days and the Irish take 21 of 22.

Residents of Asia-Pacific and North America, in comparison, are wedded to work. U.S. workers were given approximately 15 days off in the past year, and took 14. While still sparse relative to Europe, this represents an uptick from 2013, when American workers were offered 14 days and took 12. Mexican workers were also given approximately 15 days off, but took 12, leaving 20% of available vacation time on the table. 

In a separate study conducted earlier in 2014, Canadians reported on average they will take 15 vacation days this year, down from 17 days the year prior. 

While United Arab Emirates workers are given, and take, a full 30 days of vacation each year, their peers spend less time on vacation. UAE workers, in fact, take twice the number of vacation days as their nearest peers across Asia-Pacific. On the whole, in the past year, Asia-Pacific workers were offered a median number of 19 days off, and took 14. 

The Asia-Pacific vacation breakdown follows:

Country Days Offered Days Taken
Australia 20 15
Hong Kong 14 14
India 20 15
Japan  20 10
Malaysia 14 10
New Zealand 20 15
Singapore 16 14
South Korea 15 7
Thailand 11 10
UAE 30 30

Vacation Deprivation is a State of Mind

While Thai workers are the most "Vacation Deprived" as relative to available vacation days, with 11, the study's true "winner" is South Korea, whose workers took only 7 of 15 available days off in the past year.

Despite this, Expedia's 2014 Vacation Deprivation asked workers worldwide how they felt about their work vacation habits. Somewhat surprisingly, those feelings did not necessarily correlate to vacation time taken. UAE workers, who take 30 of 30 available days, consider themselves to be the world's most deprived, with 73% of respondents feeling "very or somewhat vacation deprived." In contrast, 54% of Americans feel "very or somewhat" vacation deprived.

While Mexican workers took only 12 of 15 days available to them, only 38% report feeling "very or somewhat" deprived. Among those feeling vacation deprived, 69% of the Swedish and 75% of U.K. workers report feeling deprived because "I do not get enough vacation days," despite receiving 25 and 26 vacation days, respectively. 

The reasons that workers do not use their vacation days vary. The most popular excuse for not using available vacation days is "work schedule does not allow for it" (19%), followed by a desire to "bank them/carry over to next year" (18%), "lack of money" (18%) and "difficulty coordinating time" (16%).

More Short Vacations > One Long Vacation

Worldwide, 53% of 2014 Vacation Deprivation respondents typically spend their vacation time by taking several short vacations and long weekend trips throughout the year. 60% of Americans spend their vacation allowance in this fashion, versus 23% who take one long holiday.

Globally, 29% of people prefer to stockpile days for a single long vacation. A full 15% of Austrian respondents report that they typically spend their vacation allotment taking care of errands and home improvement projects around the house. 11% of Indian workers say that their time off work is typically spent on trips tied to weddings or family obligations.

25% of World Travellers Check Work Email One or More Times Per Day

When asked how often during a week vacation travellers check work email/voicemail, 14% said once a day, and 11% said multiple times per day. 34% said never. 30% of North American and Asia-Pacific workers checked work email/voicemail one or more times a day, versus 19% of European workers. 

28% of American vacationers "never" check work email or voicemail on vacation, versus 30% who check email/voicemail one or more times per day.

The most work-obsessed travelers were from the UAE, of whom 44% check work email/voicemail at least once a day. 63% of German travelers say they "never" check work email or voicemail on break, along with 60% of the Danish and 55% of Swedes and the Dutch.

55% of the World's Bosses Approve of Workers Taking Vacation Time

72% of U.S. bosses were seen by their employees as being supportive of vacation. 82% of Norwegian workers say the same of their bosses. France and South Korean bosses were rated as most disapproving, with only 28% of the French and 31% of South Koreans saying their boss is supportive of employees taking their vacation time. 

Vacations Make People Happier Than Money

When presented with a list of happiness-inducing drivers, ranging from "Being on Vacation" and "Finding Money You Thought You Lost" to "Birthdays," being on vacation nearly lapped the field, cited first or second by 66% of study respondents. 80% of global workers associate vacationing with overall happiness "a great deal or a fair amount," versus 5% who see no such correlation. 91% of respondents somewhat or strongly agree with the statement, "Regular vacations are important for general health and wellbeing." 56% say the chance for more vacation time would motivate them to switch jobs.

When asked which pleasures they would be willing to forego for a week in order to have one extra day of vacation, global workers cited:

Life's Pleasures Would Give Up
Junk Food 54%
Alcohol 48%
Social Media 42%
Television 37%
Coffee 35%
Sex 24%
Smartphone 21%
Internet 20%
Taking a Shower 9%

About the Survey

This study was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm.  This survey was conducted online from August 25 to September 17, 2014 across North America, Europe, South America and Asia Pacific using the Kantar-owned GMI (Global Market Insite) and Lightspeed Research amalgamated group of panels.  The study was conducted among 7,855 employed adults aged 18 years of age and older across 24 countries.

Sampling quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample is representative of each country's population in terms of age and gender. Assuming a probability sample, the margin of error would be +/-1.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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