Europeans Enjoy the Longest Vacations

A recent study has found that Europeans, particularly the French and Spanish, enjoy the longest holidays

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Getty Image/Mark Kolbe

A beach in the Cairns region, Australia

If you want longer holidays, Europe is the place to be. A recent survey commissioned by the Expedia online travel agency reveals that the French, Spaniards and Brazilians are most lightly to take the longest holidays during the working year. The 2012 Vacation Deprivation study shows that while Europeans can comfortably take up to 30 days of leave, North American workers are on par with Mexicans and South Koreans, taking only 10 days off per year.

That’s right, our friends across the Atlantic get the most amount of time for hanging on the beach, exploring cities and catching up with friends. In fact, Expedia believes that Europeans see holidays from work as a duty rather than a perk. Most Europeans enjoy between 25 and 30 days off a year before religious and state holidays. Asians are by far the most diligent in their work, taking the smallest number of vacation days in the year. Even though Japanese workers are on average given 13 days away from their job, most opt for a five-day break.

(MORE: More Americans Planning to Spend Less on Travel This Year)

The true revelation of the survey lies with the Germans, 62% of whom claim that they never check in while on holiday, preferring to cut themselves off completely from the work environment. This contrasts with the 66% of Brazilians who frequently keep in touch with work while enjoying their free time. But wait, aren’t Germans meant to be the conscientious, nonstop worker bees of the euro zone?

A survey published last May on Spiegel Online found that Germans actually believe their “joy gene” is broken. Whether it’s with food, alcohol, vacation or relaxing, Germans don’t have the leisure to enjoy things. Rheingold psychologist Ines Imdahl believes that the German mood began shifting in 2008 following the 2006 soccer World Cup, once the European debt crisis hit. “It’s more than simple complaining,” she explains to the German online news website. “People have the feeling that we have to shoulder the entire crisis here.” It is slightly worrying that only 15% of those surveyed could remember moments when they could forget their worries completely and felt truly happy. Yet, despite this doom and gloom and a never wavering work ethic, Germans remain happy to avail of plenty of vacation days, taking 28 off out of a possible 30.

(MORE: Why It’s Counterproductive and Unhealthy to be ‘Crazy Busy’ with Work)

Back in the U.S., workers are nervous about taking too many days off. Along with people in the U.K., Canada, Japan and Ireland, Americans worry that they won’t be able to afford taking the time off. Other deterrents for availing of the break include difficulty coordinating with friends and family, and a fear that bosses won’t approve of holiday time.