French Vacation vs. American Staycation

- en Français fr_FR

A cold blast of freon blows through the Foundery offices, rolling a tumbleweed over the empty desks…

Contrary to what Google Translate might suggest, the English translation of the month “août” is not “August” but “get the hell out of dodge”. No amount of Americanization can cure French expats of the privilege of a full summer month to laze around upstate/en provences, chain-sipping Ricard. And so, but for a few lone Americans (aka Yours Truly) who eat lunch before their computer screens and sigh, the French Morning office is empty.

It’s not that Americans don’t deserve a vacation. Americans work significantly longer hours than the French. In 2014, the French worked an average of 40.4 hours per week, while Americans worked an average of 47 hours per week. Yet something in American culture is keeping them from Cabo. The Americans of French Morning got to work were already at work and investigated the situation.

Americans are taking less vacation days than ever before

A study by the group Project: Time Off, who work to end “the vacation stigma” (please do), shows that Americans have been taking less and less of their vacation days. Between 1976 and 2000, Americans took an average of 20.3 vacation days per year. By 2015, that number had tumbled to 16.2 vacation days. Almost one whole week!

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France actually has paid vacation days

In 2013 Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report on the number of vacation days legally required in each of the 21 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). France was at the top of the list, with the best paid vacation package of 31 days. The US was at the bottom, with 0 paid vacation days. The US is the only country in the OECD to have no paid vacation (hence why we coined the term staycation.)

OECD graph

Unlike Americans, the French actually take their vacation days

According to the most recent study by INSEE, in 2010, French people took an average of 37 vacation days, or about 6.2 weeks. That’s double what Americans took in 2015. Good news: French women on average took an extra day of vacation than men (and that’s the kind of feminism we need.)

“Vacation Taken in 2010 by Demographic Factor”

France enjoys their vacations abroad

A report released by Hostelworld in 2015 showed that, on average, each American has visited three countries. French people, on average, have each visited five countries. (Part of this discrepancy can be attributed to the ease of traveling in the E.U. and abundance of transportation options.) And (no surprise) Canada and Mexico are Americans’ the top vacation destinations. Maybe if Americans thought a little more out of the box for their destinations, they’d be globetrotting every chance they got.

“Number of Countries Visited on Average by Citizen”

Americans are needy for A/C

A study by TripAdvisor shows that a whopping 70% of Americans consider (surprise surprise!) air conditioning to be a non-negotiable necessity in a hotel. (Are they restricting their own travel destinations by being picky about A/C? Such a shame!) The French are in a relative majority who say that breakfast is more important than staying cool.

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The silver lining: Americans aren’t the worst at disconnecting from technology!

Americans are tied with France! Yippee! French people go on vacation more often than Americans, but they have just as hard of a time getting off their phones as Americans. 42% of both Americans and French say they look at their emails while on vacation, according to a 2013 TripAdvisor study. As for how often they look at work email, 62% of French travelers respond to a work email an average of once per day, 32% respond more than once a day, and 6% are constantly checking their email.

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“Percentage of people consulting their emails on vacation by nationality”

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