“Don’t live to work, Work to live“
Do you feel restricted by your day job working 40+ hours a week, with limited vacation days, and the pressure to not take time off? Do you have a bucket list with more places than time to take them?
If this previous statement applies to you, keep reading to learn my top 8 tips to maximize your vacation days! With these tips and tricks, I hope you will be able to have it all: succeed at your job AND get to enjoy your bucket list destinations.
Depending on your employer’s vacation policy and holiday schedule, everyone has a different number of days to work with. Personally, I have a full-time job that can range from 40-60+ hours per week depending on the project, but I also strategize how to maximize my vacation days to ensure some work life balance. While the United States does not have a minimum number of vacation days, it is important that we make the most of the days we can spend out of office enjoying new life experiences! I hope the following tips that I’ve used help you maximize your vacation days, avoid burnout, and allow you to create incredible memories!
Now let’s talk about how to spend more days out of office:
1. Plan ahead and get your vacation days approved by your boss far in advance
Always try to get on the calendar in advance! I feel like I have better luck planning in advance, especially for a big trip. Once you get the approval (preferably documented approval), book your flight and hotels to lock your trip down. If you aren’t sure where you want to go, at least put some time on the calendar and it will hopefully be easier to adjust the dates when you get closer to the actual date.
2. Gain your boss’s trust
This will help so much! If you work hard and gain your boss’s trust, odds will be more in your favor that he/she will approve your time off and feel comfortable with you out of office. Make sure to wrap everything up before your time off and reduce worries that your boss might have while you are out of office. Get on their good side and enjoy more days spent out of office!
3. Plan your trip during a time that is typically slower at work
If you know when your busy time of the year or month is, try to avoid those times to book a vacation. Instead, choose a slower down period where it makes more sense for you to be out and minimizes the stress for your boss. A win for you and for your boss!
4. Extend your weekends
Many of us live for the weekend, so why not live for a longer weekend? Consider adding 1-3 days to your weekend for a fun extended weekend out of office! If possible, I try to take off Monday’s because hotels are more affordable Sunday evenings instead of Thursday and Friday evenings. Either way, my job often has me on the road travelling so I always try to make the most of my weekends by flying to a different destination instead of going home for the weekend!
5. Embrace a holiday break
Memorial day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other holidays your company recognizes, aim to extend this holiday break by only taking a few vacation days and getting to enjoy a full week vacation (or longer!). For example, one year for July 4th, my company had a firm shut down for a majority of the week where I was able to take a two week trip to Europe and take less than six vacation days. If there is a holiday weekend or break, you can almost guarantee I’m heading on an adventure somewhere and I highly encourage you to do the same!
6. Be strategic about your flight times
If you strategize when you schedule your flight, you can essentially reduce the number of vacation days you need to take off and spend more time relaxing on the beach or hiking up a mountain. Look for flights that take off a few hours after your workday so you can hit the ground running the next morning. Consider taking a red eye and toughing it out by working that same day and then go to bed early that night. Consider when you take your flights to make the most of your vacation days and avoid wasting them on full travel days.
7. Increase your travel budget, if possible
The phrase “time is money” often applies when it comes to travel. I recommend increasing your travel budget a little bit to maximize your time on your vacation. This could mean spending more on hotels during a holiday weekend or selecting flights at better times. You can still get lucky with some good deals, but it’s better to be financially prepared for your trip just in case!
8. Actually use your vacation days!
Many studies have shown that millions of Americans don’t even use all their vacation days, which makes me incredibly sad! According to the Washington Post in 2019, over 50% of Americans failed to take all of their vacation days leaving 768 MILLION days on the table. These are paid vacation days people! I challenge you to take full advantage of your vacation days and any other company benefits.
Pick a few of these tips or challenge yourself to apply all of them! Do what works best for you and I hope these nuggets of wisdom will inspire you to take full advantage of your vacation days. Happy travels!