Americans on vacation: Spot this rare creature out there somewhere if you can

It’s certainly no news flash that Americans are overworked and for their trouble are rewarded by the world’s most pathetic vacation allowances.

Still every once in a while a little factoid jumps out that is surprising (well, at least to me), like this one over at Expedia that says that despite being dead last in the world in terms of vacation days earned, Americans will still leave an average of 3 days untouched. That means your average American is going to get out of the office for a whopping 11 days this year. Europeans take more days off sick than that.

Folks, they give them to you for a reason.

Expedia says a third of all Americans don’t take the vacation they deserve. Now, the Web site’s eighth annual “vacation depredation survey” is coming from a company whose business is in part to send Americans on vacation, but the numbers they tout still jive with what’s pretty well known: Europeans are the world’s best vacationers.

Your average Briton will earn 26 days of vacation this year (and take 23). Germans? Twenty-seven (and 25). The Spanish? 31 (and 27). And let’s not forget the French, who were pretty much born on vacation: they’ll get 37 vacation days this year, and will on average use all but two of those puppies.

None have any qualms of taking these days in one lump, either.

Europeans hold their right to go on holiday as sacrosanct. I worked for two years in the Czech Republic and I would have Czech employees call out sick for two weeks only to go on vacation the day after they return. My father likes to tell me the story of a French colleague of his who was out more than three months on maternity leave, and upon returning to work in the summer, promptly left on the three-week summer holiday common throughout France.

Europeans will defend all this with teeth bared as an offspring of their societies’ generous social welfare benefits. And let’s face it, which one of us wouldn’t love to have a month vacation every year?

Check out Expedia’s survey.

How much vacation are you getting this year? Will you take it all?