By Expedia Team, on November 15, 2016

Work-Life Imbalance: Expedia’s 2016 Vacation Deprivation Study Shows Americans Leave Hundreds of Millions of Paid Vacation Days Unused

More Americans consider themselves “very vacation deprived” than any other nation; South Korean workers take fewest vacation days

BELLEVUE, Wash., November 15, 2016 –®, one of the world’s largest full service online travel sites, today released the results of the 2016 Expedia Vacation Deprivation® report, an annual study of vacation habits among employed adults in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

The study, conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar, found that America again trails much of the world in work-life balance on the metric of paid vacation. Americans received 15 paid vacation days from their employers in the past year, and took only 12. With three days unused, this means American workers effectively failed to take approximately 375 million paid vacation days within the past year.*

“We’ve been looking at vacation and work life balance for more than a decade now and while many of the employed adults we survey agree that regular vacations are important for their general health and wellbeing, there are still plenty who have trouble maintaining the important balance between work and life,” said John Morrey, Vice President & General Manager of “We believe vacation, no matter how you define it, is critical to maintaining this balance and we hope that Vacation Deprivation serves as a good reminder to take a few days off and disconnect.”

Woman with cocktail enjoys holidays at sea

Paid Vacation: A Right in Europe, a Luxury in Asia

Across Europe, paid vacation days are very much a right. The study found that Spanish workers are given 30 days off and take all 30. The same is true of the Finnish and French. Italian and German workers are given 30 days of vacation and take 25 and 28 of those days, respectively.

Being given 30 days off for vacation isn’t exclusive to European nations, however. Brazilians take their full complement of 30 afforded vacations days, as do residents of the United Arab Emirates.

North American countries, specifically the United States, Canada, and Mexico, earn about half that time off work. Study respondents in each nation report having 15 days available, and take 12, 14 and 12 days in turn.

North American paid vacation habits most closely resemble those in Asia. Vacation Deprivation revealed that South Koreans are given 15 days and take only 8, the least among the 28 countries surveyed. The Japanese take 10 of 20 days available, Malaysians take 12 of 16 possible days and Thai workers take 12 of 15.

Vacation Deprivation is a State of Mind

Despite having 30 vacation days available to them, 68 percent of Spanish and United Arab Emirates workers feel “very or somewhat vacation deprived,” the most among all respondents. A full 25 percent of Americans described themselves as “very vacation deprived,” the highest percentage in the field. Only 6 percent of Norwegian and Swiss respondents said the same.

Guilt and worry prompt many workers to skip vacation. In particular:

  • Nine percent of Americans said they worried that taking their full allotment of days off “will be perceived negatively” by their employer.
  • About 14 percent of Americans reported feeling high levels of guilt, with 6 percent of Americans claiming to feel so guilty that they simply take no time off whatsoever.
  • A full 29 percent of Americans reported that they typically go one year or longer between vacations.
  • More than one in five (22 percent) U.S. employees feel they should wait a year or more into a new job before taking a day off.

Despite these worries, American bosses are perceived to be largely supportive of vacation. Seventy-five percent of Americans felt that their employers are “supportive,” in contrast to bosses in Finland (29 percent), Spain (37 percent) and Brazil (42 percent).

Vacation as an Incentive, Key to Happiness

When asked which perks employees would value most during compensation negotiations, more vacation time ranked highly. The study found that:

  • Additional vacation was the second most prized work incentive, cited by 21 percent of Americans, trailing “flexible work hours” (22 percent) and edging “ability to work from home” (19 percent).
  • “Better insurance” ranked fourth.
    • Across all 28 countries, only Americans, at 17 percent and Canadians (11 percent) had “better insurance” desires in excess of 10 percent. The global average was 5 percent.
  • Just under a quarter of Americans (23 percent) strongly agree they deserve more vacation days then they are given.
  • The same percentage of US workers reported that the prospect of additional vacation days would motivate them to change jobs.
  • About 15 percent would even agree to a reduction in pay for more vacation time.
  • Roughly 28 percent of Americans say they are “more easily aggravated” at work if they do not, or cannot, take enough vacation time.
  • Nearly four of ten U.S. workers (38 percent) admitted to making vacation plans during the work day, just under the global average of 40 percent.


Disconnection is Desired but Difficult

Among these 28 countries, 10 percent of workers, on average, said they check email “multiple times per day” on vacation. Slightly more than one-third (34%) of Americans claimed to “never” check email on vacation. “Disconnecting from work” ranked third on the list of what makes Americans happiest when they are on vacation, trailing “exploring somewhere new” and “spending time with those I am travelling with.” The Swedes and the Danish were least likely to check email at on vacation, while workers in Hong Kong, India, UAE, and South Korea were most likely to check at least once per day.

About 46 percent of Americans said they would give up social media for a week for one extra day of vacation. More than half of Americans (51 percent) would avoid alcohol, 41 percent would abstain from coffee, 29 percent would skip television and 28 percent would give up sex. About 21 percent of American survey respondents said they would forego the internet entirely for one additional day off. A full 8 percent vowed not to shower.

A deeper analysis of Vacation Deprivation can be found on Expedia Viewfinder.

Vacation Practices by Country



Vacation Days Offered


Vacation Days Taken


Unused Days

Australia 20 15 5
Austria 25 25 0
Belgium 24 23 1
Brazil 30 30 0
Canada 15 14 1
Denmark 25 25 0
Finland 30 30 0
France 30 30 0
Germany 30 28 2
Hong Kong 14 14 0
Ireland 21 21 0
India 21 15 6
Italy 30 25 5
Japan 20 10 10
Malaysia 16 12 4
Mexico 15 12 3
Netherlands 25 22 3
New Zealand 20 19 1
Norway 25 25 0
Singapore 18 14 4
South Korea 15 8 7
Spain 30 30 0
Sweden 25 25 0
Switzerland 25 25 0
Thailand 15 12 3
UAE 30 30 0
United Kingdom 25 25 0
USA 15 12 3

* As of September 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were just under 125 million Americans who work full-time.

About Vacation Deprivation

Expedia first commissioned Vacation Deprivation in 2000 to examine the work-life balance of Americans. In 2005, Expedia began comparing behaviors across countries. As of 2016, Vacation Deprivation has grown to encompass 28 countries. 9,424 employed adults aged 18 and older were asked by Northstar about work-life balance in September 2016.

This study was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm. It was conducted online from September 12 to September 29, 2016, 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 9,424 employed adults aged 18 years of age and older across 28 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 +/-1.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About® is one of the world’s largest full service travel sites, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. ( aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of top vacation destinations, cheap tickets, hotel deals, car rentals, destination weddings, cruise deals and in-destination activities, attractions, services and travel apps. With the Expedia® Best Price Guarantee, customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.

Expedia,, Expedia+, Find Yours, Vacation Deprivation and the Airplane logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners © 2016 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2029030-50.
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About Northstar

NORTHSTAR is a strategic marketing insights and consulting firm that aligns leading edge, customized research techniques and cultural context with proprietary and proven strategic marketing frameworks and models to drive insights to impact. Northstar’s suite of services relate to the most critical elements of brand, customer and marketing strategy, with sector expertise in travel and tourism, retail, automotive, CPG, food & beverage, financial services, pharma / health care, transportation and fashion / luxury. For more information, please go to

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