Relaxation Nation: Americans Prefer a Relaxing Vacation

“Relaxation Nation” is Rick Limpert’s monthly column on recreation, sports technology and travel that can be exclusively found on Modern Life Discussions.

A GfK global study in 17 countries reveals that more than half (54%) of people in the US prefer a vacation where they “relax and take it easy”— while another 38% would opt for “an active vacation where I do or see lots of things.”

These levels are comparable to the worldwide averages; across the 17 countries, well over half (59%) of people say they prefer an easygoing vacation – with Brazil posting the highest level (71%), followed by South Korea and Japan (66% each).

In contrast, Italy has the highest percentage (45%) of consumers who prefer an active vacation, followed closely by France (44%) and Spain (43%). These levels compare to a global average of 35% who say they want a relaxing getaway.

GfK’s research shows that gender barely has an effect on vacation preferences. When it comes to relaxing vacations, 54% of US men prefer to relax, compared to 53% of women. Similar ratios are seen active vacation preferences – 38% for men versus 37% for women. In addition, 10% of women and 8% of men said they are not sure which they would choose.

There is also little difference internationally between men and women; across the 17 countries, 60% of men want a relaxing vacation, versus 58% of women. For active holidays, men and women are tied at 35 percent each.

Half (50%) of American teenagers (15 to 19 years old) prefer active vacations, placing them in the lead among US respondents in this area. Those in the 20-to-29 and 60+ age groups are the next most likely to favor active vacations (39% each). Those in their thirties and forties are also tied when it comes to choosing an active getaway, at 36% each.

We also see big differences among age groups in the 17-country averages. Teenagers are the most inclined to favor active holidays, with 43% selecting this and 51% preferring a relaxing vacations. The preference for active vacations then drops steadily with each age band, ending with those aged in their fifties, and those aged 60 or over; just one-third (33%) of each group favor active holidays.

In the US, however, the age groups with the highest percentages of respondents who prefer relaxing vacations are those in their thirties and fifties, both standing at 58%. The next two leading age groups who prefer relaxing vacations are those in their forties (55%) and those in their twenties (53%.)

Families with teenagers slightly more inclined to active holidays

The presence of children in the household makes a limited difference to people’s holiday preferences. Among US families with children under six years old in the household, or those with children aged between six and twelve, just under two-thirds (children under six, 61%; children 6-12, 60%) favor relaxing vacations, and just over a third favor active ones. Families with teenage children (13 to 19) are more inclined (43%) to favor active vacations.

Relaxing vacations

Rick Limpert

Rick Limpert is an award winning Atlanta-based freelance writer, columnist, host of The Tech of Sports Podcast and best-selling author. He has covered sports, technology and events all over the world. His works have been featured on Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News,, and in Sports Illustrated.

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