Sean Gallup / Getty Images file
Bathers relax on inflatable water mattresses near the beach at Porto Katsiki, on the island of Lefkada, Greece, in 2010.
By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor
There?s good news and bad news on the American vacation front courtesy of a survey from Expedia.com.
Released on Wednesday, the Vacation Deprivation Study revealed that U.S. workers let two days of vacation go unused this year, down from three days last year.
Unfortunately, the drop wasn?t realized because people took more vacation days ? the average American worker took 12 days in both years ? but because they received, on average, 14 days of vacation this year vs. 15 in 2010.
Do you take all of your allotted vacation time?
Yes -- and I'd take more vacation days if I had them.
No -- it's too tough to get away from work.
Almost -- I take time off work, but I give up some time each year.
Are you nuts? -- I wish I had the time and money for vacations.
VoteTotal Votes: 6493
?In terms of days they left on the table, as in ?It?s yours and you gave it away,? it went down,? said Joe Megibow, vice president and general manager. ?But we?d like to see the gap get closed by people using more of their vacation days rather than having employers give them less.?
Less, of course, is a relative term as the annual study once again showed Americans getting far fewer vacation days than their peers in most other developed countries. Surveying 7,800 employed adults in 20 countries, the study (as usual) showed that workers in Europe get far more time off ? 25 to 30 days per year ? and tend to use almost all of it.
?In Europe, vacations are considered a way of life not a luxury,? said Megibow. ?Even in countries where respondents reported less financial strength, they still go on vacation.?
Conversely, almost half of U.S. respondents reported their financial situation as ?solid? or ?good,? which according to Megibow, suggests a very different point of view: ?In the U.S., people view vacations as a luxury,? he told msnbc.com. ?Even though Americans report slightly stronger financial health, vacations are still one of the things that gets cut.?
Part of the problem may be that such feelings are being tempered by past events. ?People are still focusing on the bad news and not taking in good news like retailers doing well,? said Alden Cass, a performance coach and CEO of Competitive Streak Consulting Inc. ?They?re almost having a PTSD-like reaction to things that are out of their control.?
Far better, suggests Cass, is to just let go. ?People need to get away to reduce the amount of anxiety in their lives, to disengage from their BlackBerrys and iPhones and to not worry about the things they do on a daily basis,? he told msnbc.com. ?Sometimes lying on a Caribbean beach where there?s no Internet access is the best recipe for coming back with a clear head, an objective mindset and a better attitude.?
On the subject of disengaging, at least, Americans seem to be getting the message. When survey participants were asked how often they checked e-mail or voicemail while on vacation, 41 percent said never, 34 percent said sometimes, 20 percent said regularly and just 4 percent said constantly.
?Americans don?t get a lot of vacation,? said Megibow, ?but on the few days they take, most are checking out [from work], which is great.?
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.?