Half of Canadians feel they need more vacation time

Half of employed Canadians (47 per cent) identify themselves as very or somewhat vacation deprived – the highest reported level in four years – despite receiving an average of 19.68 vacation days from their employer. The likely reason? The eighth annual Expedia.ca(TM) Vacation Deprivation(TM) survey by Harris/Decima reveals that one-quarter of Canadians (24 per cent) are not taking all of their vacation time, giving back an average of 2.17 unused vacation days to their employer. This translates into nearly 36.5 million unused days in Canada overall, and an overwhelming $6.02 billion (CDN) in wages handed back to employers.  

"Despite an upswing in the Canadian economy, Vacation Deprivation continues to pervade the Canadian workforce - in fact, it has reached its highest level this year," says Beverly Beuermann-King, stress and wellness expert. "Investing in our jobs is important, but so is investing in our physical and mental health, too. The vacation time is there – we just need to use it!"  

Unlike 2009, the economy isn't as much of a concern this year for Canadians looking to take vacation time.* Among all Canadians, just one quarter (25 per cent) feel that it's more important to put funds into savings than spend money on vacations. Just 13 per cent of Canadians feel they need a vacation now more than ever because of stress from the current economy, down from 18 per cent last year. Guilt over taking vacations due to the economic climate is down too, with just 14 per cent of Canadians reporting this as a concern, compared with 17 per cent last year.  

So if the economic storm has cleared, what's preventing us from taking the time we've earned?   Barriers to vacations  While almost all employed Canadians have vacation days (90 per cent), half (46 per cent) say there are a variety of reasons why they wouldn't use them all, including:  

  • Not scheduling vacation time far enough in advance to be able to take all of their vacation days (14 per cent);.
  • Work is their life and they're too busy to get away (12 per cent).
  • Their significant other is unable to get away from their job (10 per cent).

Work-related concerns even cause interruptions to vacations that are already planned. One-third of Canadians say they've checked their work messages while on vacation (30 per cent) and one-quarter have even cancelled or postponed vacation plans in the past because of work (22 per cent).  

Technology: love it or leave it? 
The ease of checking messages can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when it comes to vacation time. For one-third (34 per cent) of all Canadians, technological advances make it difficult to fully disconnect from the stresses of home/work life while on vacation. However, 42 per cent of Canadians say technological advances make it easier to go on vacation because they can still be connected to home and/or work.  

Similarly, while 23 per cent of Canadians say they prefer to stay active on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook because it helps them feel connected on vacation, 60 per cent say that in order to fully enjoy their vacations, they need to 'take a vacation' from social media overload. 

The life list 
Even if they aren't planning on travelling there this year, most Canadians do have a list of dream destinations they'd like to visit at some point in their lifetime (76 per cent). Half (49 per cent) of Canadians say visiting those destinations is a priority, yet barriers such as money (75 per cent) and time and scheduling (44 per cent) are preventing them from achieving their travel dreams.  

The majority of both men and women have a "life list" of dream vacations (79 per cent and 73 per cent respectively) while young Canadians (aged 18-24) are more likely to put a priority on actually visiting their fantasy locales (67 per cent).  

More vacation revelations 

-  One week or two? When they do use their vacation time, most employed Canadians plan to take at least one vacation this year that lasts up to one (33 per cent) or two (38 per cent) full weeks.
- Getting there is half the fun - More than half of Canadians (62 per cent) say they enjoy the planning and anticipation aspect before a vacation almost as much or as much as taking a vacation itself.
-  In sickness and in health - Canadians are taking an average of three sick days each year, consistent with 2009 results. Women continue to take more sick days than men (3.42 vs. 2.63) while older Canadians age 55+ usually take fewer sick days than their younger counterparts (1.89 vs. 3.27)
- Reality check - After a vacation, half of Canadians (53 per cent) come back feeling rested, rejuvenated and connected to their personal life, and two-in-five (39 per cent) feel better about their job and feel more productive.
- Vacation Envy - Half (48 per cent) of Canadians experience vacation envy, or feelings of jealousy when a co-worker or friend goes on vacation. Women are more likely than men to experience this (54 per cent vs. 41 per cent), as are younger Canadians 18-34 vs. older Canadians 55+ (66 per cent vs. 33 per cent). 

And the most vacation-deprived province is ... Ontario!   Half (50 per cent) of Ontarians identify themselves as vacation deprived, followed by British Columbians (46 per cent), Manitoba/Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada (45 per cent), and Alberta (44 per cent).  

Harris/Decima completed 2,006 online surveys among a random sample of Harris/Decima panel members aged 18 and older, among which 1,271 are employed. The study was conducted between April 14th to April 19th, 2010. 

Expedia, Inc. operates Canada's most visited full-service online travel service, Expedia.ca(TM). To learn more, visit www.expedia.ca.  

*Comparison of findings prior to 2009 should be interpreted with caution because of the change in survey supplier. However, every effort has been made to maintain the same methodology and market research standards.