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American Attitudes About Traveling

December 10, 2011



Courtesy of The Westin Resort, Cancun in Mexico

Americans treat vacation as a guilty pleasure, rather than a right. That helps explain why the average American worker this year will take just 12 days of their 14 vacation days, leaving two vacation days unused, according to a 2011 study for travel Web site

The study looked at attitudes toward vacations in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. Harris Interactive surveyed 7,803 employed adults online in September and October 2011.

Some results: Europeans lead the world in vacationing, and Brazilians rank high too. European workers generally receive more vacation time — and take more – than peers elsewhere.

The average European employee earns 25-30 vacation days in a year and tends to use them all. Brazilians treat vacation as Europeans do – as part of being employed, not a luxury.
Brazilian workers receive 30 vacation days and usually enjoy every one of them.

Americans treat vacation as a luxury rather than a fact of life. Americans receive roughly half the Europeans’ allotment of vacation time. In 2011, Americans employees earned 14 vacation days and took 12, down from 15 days given and 12 taken in 2010.

American vacation habits are more like Asians’ than Europeans’. Asia represents the most vacation-deprived region in the 2011 study. Japanese workers took just five vacation days out of 11 available, while South Korean respondents took seven of a possible 10 days of vacation.

Money and planning are the most commonly-cited reasons for not taking vacation. Overall, 22 percent of respondents said they believed they could not afford a vacation, and 20 percent cited “lack of planning” for leaving days unused.

The United States leads the world in money worries: one of three Americans say that they can’t afford vacation. However, almost half of US workers describe their financial situation as “solid” or “good,” reinforcing the notion that Americans view vacation as a luxury.

Brazilian respondents were least likely to see money as an impediment, just 6 percent. Brazilians instead chose “lack of planning” as their top reason for not taking a vacation, the study found.

For more on the 2011 Vacation Deprivation study, visit



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