Stressed Americans Leave 460 Million Vacation Days Unused

July 7, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Europe & Middle East | Retail & E-Commerce | Travel & Hospitality

For the eighth consecutive year, working Americans received and used the smallest amount of vacation time compared with counterparts abroad, according to a survey commissioned by

Employed US adults will leave an average of three vacation days on the table this year, in essence giving back more than 460 million vacation days in 2008, the findings also showed.

The eighth annual Vacation Deprivation survey found that despite reporting an average of 14 paid vacation days this year, an estimated 47.5 million Americans (31% of employed US adults) will not use all their vacation days.

Americans Get Least Amount

Based on analysis of vacation habits of employed workers in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria, the survey found as follows:


  • Canadians receive an average of 17 annual days, two fewer than in 2007 but still three more than Americans.
  • Workers in all European countries surveyed earned more vacation days than Americans.
  • Great Britain has a two-day increase over 2007, with 26 days, and Germany, Spain and France all have increases of one day, receiving 27 days, 31 days and 37 days, respectively.
  • Employed workers in the Netherlands and Austria are awarded an average of 28 days in 2008.

Work Stress Inhibits Vacation

Work responsibilities are one of the biggest deterrents to Americans’ taking and enjoying vacation:

  • 18% of US adults say they have canceled or postponed vacation plans because of work.
  • 29% admit they have trouble coping with stress from work at some point in the vacation cycle.
  • Nearly one quarter (24%) report that they check work email or voicemail while vacationing – up from 16% in 2005.

Women Feel Guiltier about Taking Vacation

This year’s research uncovered a shift in attitudes of women and men:

  • In 2007, men were more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (39% versus 30%). However, in 2008, women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (38% versus 28%).
  • Men are more likely than women (16% versus 11%) to take a two-week vacation.

Americans Feel Better after Vacation

Despite not taking all of their allotted time, more than one-third (39%) of US workers report they feel more productive and better about their jobs upon returning from vacation, and 52% say they feel rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal lives.

“The research is clear, despite leaving vacation days unused, Americans believe in the restorative power of taking time off, as well as their employers attitudes around taking the days they earn,” said Paul Brown, president,

About the Survey: This is the eighth year of the annual Vacation Deprivation. This year’s survey includes a sample of employed workers in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and Austria. Harris Interactive fielded the online survey in the US on behalf of between March 14 and March 18, 2008 among a cross-section of 1,617 employed adults age 18+. Harris conducted the European survey among employed adults between March 19 and March 28, 2008 among nationwide cross-sections of 506 in Great Britain, 527 in France, 467 in Germany, 578 in Spain, 588 in Italy, 459 in the Netherlands, and 579 in Austria. The Canadian data was collected by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Expedia from March 25 to March 28, 2008, via national online panel of 2,032 employed adult Canadians.


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