Poof. Gone. That's what will happen to many of the vacation days workers don't use by December 31. Americans are expected to subject two days to this unfortunate fate in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.
What's more, that sacrifice comes from a smaller overall pool of days. In 2012, Americans reported receiving 12 days of vacation, compared with 14 days last year. Of those 12, they're expected to take only 10 this year, according to Expedia's annual Vacation Deprivation study.
Even so, American workers still take more vacation than their Asian counterparts, the study shows. The Japanese are expected to take only five of 13 allotted days. South Koreans will likely take seven out of 10. Asian workers also work the longest weeks, about 44 hours, according to the study. Average Americans work a 40-hour week, the most common, while the Dutch have the lightest work week of the 22 nations surveyed, putting in just 35 hours.
The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive and included responses from 8,687 employed adults in 22 countries.
Europeans are still the champions of making the most out of a relative boatload of vacation -- typically 25 to 30 days off in addition to holidays. In France and Spain, workers tend to take the full 30 days, while Germans take 28 of their 30 days. British, Swedish and Norwegian workers don't waste a single day, taking all 25 of their vacation days.
"Studies consistently show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier and more productive employees," John Morrey, general manager of Expedia.com, said in a statement. "Your vacation days are not a gift, not a luxury. They're yours to use."
Overall, workers cited difficulty coordinating time off with family and friends and the possibility of rolling the days over into the next year as the biggest reasons they don't take their days. Workers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan and Ireland cited money concerns at the biggest hurdle to taking their vacation time.
Bosses in Norway, Sweden and Brazil are the most supportive of employees taking vacation time, the survey said, while more than half of bosses in Italy and South Korea were not so keen on the idea of workers getting away.
Beach vacations ranked as the most popular escape, with 35 percent of respondents flocking to the water. So head to the shore, or lounge around in your living room. Just take those days, Morrey urges.
"Instead of letting those days quietly expire, take that time and connect with the world outside your office."