Monday, October 26, 2015

How to Make the Most of Your Vacation Days

william eggleston- how to make the most of your vacation days

I absolutely love to travel. Whether I'm traveling an hour from home or across the country, I am constantly looking for great travel deals and new places to visit! I always get questions on how I travel so much. Two parts of being an adult that create a catch 22: a paycheck every two weeks, but limited vacation days. 

You graduate college, get a job, and you finally have your own bank account to travel... so fun. But not so fun when you are held back by a little thing called work. So how to travel without wasting away all your paid time off before you even make it through Q3? 

This is a question I am constantly e-mailed about: young professionals wanting to travel but not wanting to take the time off from work. These are some of the things I've done, and some of the things I've read about/my peers have told me that they do. Of course, some of these may work for you, or none at all-- it all depends on your type of work, your boss, your position, years of work, etc. Feel free to leave a message in the comments on how you make the most of you vacation days so that others can learn from you, too! 

First thing's first, if you are looking for a new job or just entering the post-grad world, my first piece of advice before accepting a position is to negotiate. Not only should you be negotiating your salary, but also your benefits. Vacation days are extremely important to me, so that is something I negotiate. You just have to decide what is important to you and what comes second. It may be discouraging, especially coming right out of college, because a lot of companies are just not willing to be flexible, especially when starting out with little to no experience. However, I always think it is worth a try! 

It's also worth noting that if you have been with a company for a while, when asking for a raise/promotion, it's also not out of the ordinary to be awarded extra paid time off. Or, in lieu of a monetary raise, think about asking for a raise in vacation days! It's something to think about when you are deciding to stay or leave a company. I know some people have been with the same company for years and they have a lot of paid time off. 

Also, if you are unsatisfied with your vacation day amount, your company may let you take unpaid vacation days. This is a little like taking a pay cut-- so you should only do so if you can comfortably afford to, but it's another great option! 

Work from 'Home'
Next thing-- is the job you have flexible? Can you work from 'home'? I know some of my friends have really flexible jobs and have made their travels work because they can work from the airport, during their flight, in a hotel room, etc. It takes about a day to travel to Europe, so if you are lucky enough to work for a company that allows you to work remotely, this is a big plus! You can work as you travel and not have to use your travel day as a full vacation day. Just be sure to actually work and show you are responsible and not take advantage of this luxury. I remember one time, my family and I were going to Kentucky, which is a 6 hour drive. Instead of using a vacation day, I turned on my phone's hotspot and worked from the car for the full day! 

Make Sacrifices
You may have to be willing to fly at obscure times, pay more for your travel etc. On many occasions, I have woken up at 3 or 4am to be able to go into work, work a full day and leave by 1 or 2pm to either hit the road or be able to catch a certain flight. I also think it's smart to book a flight during a holiday so you can get those extra days in without having to use a vacation day. The sacrifice here, though, is that you'll likely have to pay more for hotel and airfare-- or traffic could be an issue if you are driving! But if you want to go badly enough, you can make it work! 

I personally like to take off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, because I think it extends the holiday. It gives me plenty of time with my family that comes in from out of town. Once I take that Wednesday off, it gives me 5 full days free from work, only having to use 1 vacation day! 

Working Hard Pays Off
This might not be true for super corporate settings, but can you work weekends or overtime and then use those extra hours to take as comp time? This is something to also ask about when you are thinking about accepting a position. With most salaried positions, you get no extra payment nor do you get extra time off-- however, some companies offer comp time. If you anticipate working a ton of overtime, it's well worth it to receive comp time. At my first job, I would often work 50-80 hour weeks-- which would give me an additional entire week's worth of days that I would be able to take off at a later date! 

Just like I said sometimes holidays can be expensive to travel, you can try and do the opposite. Again, all of this depends on your company/boss, but can you opt to work a holiday and then have that extra day to take off at another point in time? For example, will your boss allow you to work Columbus Day, even though you have off? I have done this a lot. It gives you that extra day to take when you want it, and you don't have to spend a ton traveling during a holiday! 

Get Extra Vacation Days
A lot of companies offer the ability to buy or sell vacation days. They're sometimes expensive, but in my mind, they are well worth it. If vacation days aren't important to you, some companies offer the ability to sell your days, too! It's all up to what you value in your job! 

Get a Late Flight
This is kind of annoying, but I only regret it on Monday morning when I'm exhausted, and then, in the long run, I am glad I did it. I like to get a super early flight on a Friday, so usually I am there for a full day Friday, and then I book my flight home super late on a Sunday. That way, you get a full 3 days in. I know a lot of people like to be able to sleep in or get home early to prepare for the work week, but if you're willing to be a little tired come Monday morning, it's worth it for that extra time spent at your destination! 

Go on a short trip
If you can, book a flight on a Thursday night, but early enough so you can enjoy dinner and a night out in your new destination. This really only works for short trips. I like to do this when I fly PIT-NYC because the flight is only about 45 minutes. I can usually make it after work to NYC in time for an 8pm reservation. Then, think about working remotely in your hotel room for half a day on Friday morning (6am to 11am/noon)-- it's always fun to order room service while you work! That way, you can get away for 3 full nights and only take a half day off! This works for road trips, too! I visit DC a lot, so hitting the road Thursday night works nicely for me! 

That's my best advice. How do you stretch your vacation days? Have a fabulous day! 


Ellen | A Pop of Pink said...

I love these tips, Sydney! I'm already thinking about my vacation days next year and how I want to be able to do all that I want to do. Definitely will bookmark this post. Have a great week!

Ellen | A Pop of Pink

miss andrea lee said...

Great tips! I work an alternate schedule, so I work 9/hours day and have every other Friday off! It's awesome for weekend getaways.

Sarah said...

One thing that is especially important to maximizing earned vacation is time spent at a company. A lot of people I know in DC like to bounce around to different firms, but I've chosen to stay where I'm at for the past 8 years which now has me at over six weeks of vacation a year plus very generous holiday leave. That time off is invaluable to me and definitely worth more to me than a raise that would be gained from moving laterally to a different firm.

MouseClark said...

I worked in New York for a year and had to get my head round only have 10 vacation days for a whole year. Here in the UK you get a minimum of 20 days plus 8 statutory days (although a lots of companies work these stat days so you can use the days at another time). My current job gives 29 days a year of which I have to use 10 at Christmas. My leave allowance will increase to 30 days once I've been with the company for 3 years. Unfortunately I didn't manage to use all my days last year and normally there is a "use it or lose it" policy but since my department is understaffed I was able to carry days over to this year which worked for me as I got married this year. I still don't think I will mange to take all my days again this year, fingers crossed I can carry over again and we get more staff so that we can all take our vacation days!

There is a lot of research that shows that vacation time is really important and actually makes you more productive at work. Other European countries are more generous with leave than the UK and also better at flexi working to enable people to have the best work/family balance.

Lauren said...

These are all such great tips!


Kim Olsen said...

Great post! I agree with a lot of these ideas and try to travel as much as I absolutely can while holding down a full time corporate job that is not super flexible with work arrangements.

-Kim @ The Vintage Modern

Jasmine Eclipse said...

Thank you for writing this post! I recently started a job and I've been planning out my Christmas holiday, while trying to work around my *very* limited vacation days. I've opted for taking later flights, making it a shorter trip and working from home. Your tips will definitely come in handy when I plan another trip!

Jasmine Eclipse said...

Thank you for writing this post! I recently started a job and I've been planning out my Christmas holiday, while trying to work around my *very* limited vacation days. I've opted for taking later flights, making it a shorter trip and working from home. Your tips will definitely come in handy when I plan another trip!

Unknown said...

I work shift work so am quite fortunate to get a block of days off together mostly. I love to go on short breaks as and when I can and the added benefit of having obscure days off - the life of a nurse isn't so bad from this perspective!

The only downside is money but that is an everyday worry right?!

Great post :)


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