Americans are the worst (globally) at taking vacation time: Here's how many days we take

Summer vacation mode may be in full swing, but it turns out Americans aren’t the ones packing their bags, according to a new study by travel platform Expedia.

Expedia’s 24th annual Vacation Deprivation Report, which surveyed 11,580 people across 11 countries in March and April, found Americans to take the least vacations globally. Sixty-five percent of U.S. respondents said they feel as if they don’t take enough time off – the highest rate in 11 years.

Americans not only receive the fewest vacation days each year, averaging just 11 days, but only half of them even plan to use all their allotted time off.

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How much time off do Americans take?

The study found that Americans take 11 days off a year on average.

The reasons are all too relatable: Americans said they’re just too busy, and planning a vacation can be “overwhelming.”

Compared with the rest of the world, Americans are almost twice as likely to go a year or more without taking a vacation. Japan, France and Hong Kong were all found to have healthy holiday habits in the study. (Hong Kong respondents actually took more time off than their earned paid time off.)

"Vacations are not a guilty pleasure, yet that's the way Americans have been treating time off for years now," said Mel Fish, vice president of Global Public Relations, Expedia Group Brands, in a statement to USA TODAY.

“Guilt, hustle culture, and the stress of planning a trip are why 65% of Americans say they're 'vacation deprived,' the highest rate in over a decade of Expedia tracking it. With more than half of Americans not using all their PTO annually, despite getting the fewest amount of vacation days globally, we're clearly overdue for an overhaul when it comes to our relationship with vacation time.”

Even worse, about 19% of Americans said they save up their vacation days for a big trip and end up not even going.

While Americans grind away at work and manage their busy schedules, the French are doing the opposite. In the survey, France won the spot as the country that gets the most days off, about a month. (You may have heard of the famous French August shutdown, when many businesses close and people get away from the cities.)

In Japan – one of the surveyed countries where its residents take the second-least amount of days off at 12 days – vacations are spread out throughout the year, about every month or so. That contributes to the Japanese having one of the lowest levels of vacation deprivation, according to the study.

Americans may want to follow suit and take that step to finally book the trip on their bucket list. Going on vacation comes with a slew of benefits for someone’s well-being, like reducing depression. Taking a trip even helps us show up in our daily lives and jobs better. Unfortunately, Americans ranked the lowest out of the 11 countries for prioritizing rest and relaxation during their trips. (Seriously, turn off the email notifications.)

“You know how sometimes your computer needs a reboot? Our brains are much the same,” said Becky Spelman, a psychologist who partnered with Expedia, in a statement to USA TODAY. “Over time, work stress can build up to an unsustainable level and our brain functions start to slow down and work less effectively.”

Tips to book that trip

Go for the long weekend. Because a big annual trip can be costly and come with a lot of pressure, opt for booking shorter getaways, like a long weekend. Although holiday weekends can cause prices to surge, taking a Friday or Monday off for a long weekend during shoulder season means fewer crowds and lower prices.

Use technology. Artificial intelligence travel planners and price trackers are at our fingertips, and those can make the research and planning of booking a trip a little less overwhelming. Using a flight tracker to monitor flight costs can help you score the best deal. And if you don’t know where to go, an AI travel planner from Expedia or can help you find accommodations and even decide on a destination based on your interests.

“When we take a break, it’s easier for our brains to absorb new information, process new sensations and create new memories – a process known as ‘cognitive flexibility,’” Spelman said. “The benefits can last long after the vacation is over. By taking time off and ‘rebooting’ our brain, we return refreshed, which can lead to longer-term job satisfaction.”

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Americans don't go on vacation: Why the French are No. 1