Most relaxing Americans put a priority on having fun rather than sleeping while they are vacationing, according to a recent relaxation survey commissioned by Princess Cruises. With the busy holiday travel season upon us, many Americans may be looking for a little rest and relaxation in between, which, according to the survey findings, means different things to different people.

The Princess Cruises "Relaxation Report" uncovered some surprising insights as to how Americans pursue leisure. The "Report" showed that 55% of vacationers preferred to get up early rather than sleep in on vacation, while 44% chose to sleep late.

Besides putting a priority on leisure time versus sleep time, the "Relaxation Report" also reveals that 6 out of 10 Americans prefer a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow itinerary rather than a set-schedule of activities while on vacation (selected by 38%). And, two-thirds (67%) of Americans prefer to relax on the beach rather than at the pool (26%). To aid in relaxation, Americans choose reading (25%), having a drink (20%) and listening to music (19%).

Princess Cruises, one of the best-known names in cruising, fielded the survey to gain some insights into relaxation habits while on vacation. "Because Princess is committed to providing our passengers a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation experience, we thought it would be fun to get some feedback about just what helps people relax during their precious time off," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.

Men vs. Women

The “Relaxation Report” also uncovered clear differences between how men and women relax.  Men prefer to start their vacation day by getting up early (58%) rather than sleeping in (41%), while women are divided, with 51% preferring to rise early and 47% preferring to sleep in and catch some Z’s.  Men prefer to relax by having a drink (25%), reading (18%) and listening to music (17%). Women, on the other hand, prefer to relax by reading (32%), listening to music (21%) and by having a drink (15%). When drinking on vacation, men prefer beer over wine (41% vs. 27%, respectively), while women prefer a glass of wine over a beer (45% vs. 27%, respectively). Also, more men than women choose watching TV (15% vs. 11%, respectively) and exercising (15% vs. 9%, respectively) as ways to aid in their relaxation.

Despite their differences, men and women have their agreements too. Both men and women choose country music as their favorite vacation tunes (25% and 22%, respectively), both prefer viewing a sunset (65% and 67%) over a sunrise (30% among both genders) and would rather relax on the beach (68% vs. 60%) than at the pool (25% vs. 26%).

Country is King

When it comes to tunes, country music was the clear winner with 24% of Americans preferring those songs over all else, followed in popularity by soft rock (21%), classical (17%), jazz (13%) and pop (12%).

Turn Off and Power Down

Contrary to popular belief, while mindlessly surfing the Internet or flipping through the television may sound like good ways to relax, in reality Americans couldn’t disagree more. Most Americans (97%) do not choose the Internet or the television (87%) as  primary ways to relax while on vacation.

East vs. West

When asked to choose between viewing a sunset or a sunrise while on vacation, the responses varied based on where Americans reside. While 4 in 10 adults from the Northeast (40%) would rather see a sunrise, less than 1 in 3 of those in the Midwest (29%), in the South (27%) or in the West (27%) would choose dawn over dusk. There are also some regional differences when it comes to vacation reading preferences. A larger proportion of adults from the Midwest would rather read a magazine (47%) than would adults from the West (37%), the South (36%) and the Northeast (35%). Conversely, those from the Northeast (59%), the West (56%) and the South (54%) are more likely to choose a book than those from the Midwest (45%).

Vacation Barometer

How do you know when it’s time to take a vacation? Americans identified three key factors that lead to a getaway: being tired (30%), cranky (28%) and restless (22%).