More annual leave being taken amid focus on health and well-being

Australian workers took the most annual leave in seven years in 2015, although they tended to spend it on shorter breaks spread throughout the year rather than a single long holiday.

The 15th annual Expedia Vacation Deprivation survey found Australians took an average of 18 of their 20 annual leave days last year, up from just 15 in 2014.

It comes at a time when 89 per cent of Australians said regular holidays were important for health and well-being and 91 per cent said holidays had an impact on overall happiness.

"As Aussies, we love to travel but often the pressure of work and life can stop us taking as many holidays as we'd like," travel expert Kelly Cull said. "It's a significant shift to see Aussies taking the most annual leave in seven years and it's encouraging, as the benefits are clear. Whether we are travelling the world, spending the time with family and friends, or relaxing time out from work is important."

The survey found half of Australians were choosing to take multiple getaways rather than the one long holiday preferred by 35 per cent, while others were using their time off to take care of errands closer to home.

Some destinations, like Hawaii, are looking to take advantage of the trend toward multiple getaways. Hawaiian Airlines last year devised itineraries offering a traveller the chance to depart Sydney or Brisbane on a Friday evening and return on Tuesday evening after three nights on the ground in Waikiki, in a move that would use just two days of annual leave.

At the time, Virtuoso Asia-Pacific managing director Michael Londregan said there was a trend toward cash-rich but stressed out workers taking advantage of quiet periods to use up a few days of annual leave at the last minute.

Low airfares have also made regional events like the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens a drawcard for short holidays and ski holidays in Japan have proven particularly popular this northern winter, according to travel agents.

The Expedia survey found 42 per cent of Australians manage to turn off from work completely when on holiday by not checking their emails or voicemails at all. Of the remainder, on a one-week holiday, the biggest share would check email and voicemail one or twice during the week.

"It's positive to see Aussies understand the benefits of taking leave on their health and well-being," Ms Cull said.

This article More annual leave being taken amid focus on health and well-being was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.