Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Vacation Days

We all want to get away (and deserve) a break from work every once in a while. But getting away isn’t always just as easy as booking a flight or a hotel.  Taking time away for work (and school) for most employees can be tricky and downright stressful. Lack of time and vacation days are cited as the second most common reason holding families back from travel (financial being the first).  The average American worker gets 10 days of paid vacation and the vast majority of employees don’t use all of their paid vacation days each year.

Most everyone I know who work are rarely encouraged to take all their vacation.  It’s a battle. People are afraid of being fired, of returning to a mountain of work, feeling badly about putting more on their coworkers,  concerned they’ll be chased for work on their vacation due to an inability to disconnect, the list goes on and on. It’s also tricky to work around school schedules as winter break, spring break and summers tend to be the busiest and most expensive time to travel.  But don’t lose hope! Here’s some ways to get more bang for your vacation buck.

Plan far in advance

It’s much harder to get your work covered and approved when it’s done at the last minute.  Blocking your calendar well in advance gives everyone including your boss time to plan for your absence.  Even if you don’t know where you’re going yet, just block it.  

Embrace the long weekend style of travel

This is pretty much how we roll.  We usually do vacations Wednesday to Sunday.  We’ve worked 2 days of the week and are technically taking off just 3 days but get 5 days to travel and explore.  It also enables us to take lots of shorter trips instead of just one or two long trips during the year.

Offer to work remotely for a portion of your trip

So many more employees have the ability to work via a laptop and cell phone and people are taking advantage.  I’ve known those who have spend 2 weeks in Montana, work the first and take off the second. Their afternoons and evenings are spent in their chosen destination and it gives you a break from the office.  

Use holidays to extend your vacation

Look ahead and see what days National Holidays fall on.  Most days around holidays (depending on your profession) tend to be quieter and getting away can be easier.  We have taken to spending Thanksgiving on a family vacation. Most offices are closed Thursday and often Friday so we get a 8-9 day vacation out of 3 vacation days (leaving the weekend before and coming back the next weekend)

Combine a vacation with a conference

 It’s a great way to cut down on costs and get a vacation out of it.  Depending on your occupation and company size many jobs offer continuing education in the form of conferences and have a budget or comp for employees.  We did this for our trip to San Francisco when our daughter was two. Once the conference was over we traveled out to Yosemite National Park.