Despite leaving three vacation days unused, 92 percent of employed U.S. adults believe they are entitled to take all the vacation days they earn, and 67 percent believe their employer encourages them to use all of their allotted vacation time

For the eighth consecutive year Americans(1) were found to receive and use the smallest amount of vacation time among their counterparts abroad. Expedia(R), the world’s leading online travel agency, recently commissioned its eighth annual Vacation Deprivation(TM) survey. Despite reporting an average of 14 paid vacation days again this year, the same as 2007 and two more than in 2005, an estimated 47.5MM Americans(2) (31 percent of employed U.S. adults) — almost as much as the entire population of California and Illinois, combined — will not use all of their vacation days. Again this year, employed U.S. adults will leave an average of three vacation days on the table, in essence giving back more than 460 million(3) vacation days in 2008.

Despite these statistics, Americans do see the value in vacation, with more than one-third (39 percent) reporting they feel more productive and better about their job upon returning from vacation and 52 percent claiming to feel rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life. Work responsibilities are one of the biggest deterrents to taking vacation, with 18 percent of U.S. adults responding that they’ve cancelled or postponed vacation plans because of work and 29 percent admitting they have trouble coping with stress from work at some point in the vacation cycle. Additionally, nearly one quarter (24 percent) report that they check work e-mail or voicemail while vacationing. That figure is up from only 16 percent in 2005.

“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, “Regardless of the number of vacation days Americans receive or how they want to take them, Expedia aims to provide travelers with planning tools that allow them to book their perfect trip at the right price backed by our Best Price Guarantee.”

Americans Lose the Global Tally

Expedia analyzed the vacation habits of employed workers in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and for the first time, the Netherlands and Austria. Canadians receive an average of 17 annual days, two less than 2007 but still three more than Americans. Among the European countries studied in the past, all workers receive more vacation days in 2008 than 2007. Great Britain has a two day increase over 2007, with 26 days, and Germany, Spain and France all saw 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.

Gender Differences

When it comes to making vacation a priority, Expedia research saw a shift in attitudes toward taking time off among women and men. In 2007, men were more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (39 percent versus 30 percent of women). However, in 2008, women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (38 percent women versus 28 percent men), and men are more likely than women (16 percent versus 11 percent) to take a 2-week vacation.

For complete survey results visit

Source: Expedia, Inc.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".