Making The Most of Vacation Days

February 2015 in Bruges, Belgium

People always ask me, how can I afford to travel so much? In this day and age, with flight deals galore, I ask them why not?

In 2015, I went to Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Morocco, and Panama, and only used 2 days of vacation. Yes, you read that correctly. During that time, I also traveled in the U.S. to several states, both for work and for pleasure.

For most of my career, I’ve worked places that require you to accrue vacation days each pay period versus starting the year off with them. While this system can prove to be challenging, especially if you want to travel earlier in the year during shoulder seasons, there are ways to maximize your time off.

Travel on Holidays
Plan travel around holidays that fall on a Monday (i.e. Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day). A vacation doesn’t have to be a full week off. Sometimes it’s nice to just be able to get away for a few days to feel refreshed.
Tip: If your office is closed, see if you can work from home these days and use the day later as a floating holiday.

Use COMP Time
If you travel for work, especially over a weekend, you likely will accrue comp time. In my last job I traveled at least 4 times a year for work conferences that fell on weekends. I was also the first one to volunteer for work events that fell on the weekend. Those conferences and events afforded me 11 days of comp time. That’s over 2 weeks of travel and that didn’t even take into account the 3 weeks of vacation time I earn per year.

Telecommuting & Flexible Schedules
Can you telecommute at least one day a week or work 10 hour days and have one day off per week? If so, no one said you can’t travel with your laptop. Of course this isn’t ideal but if you can work remotely from your flight (most international flights have wifi) then go for it.

Book Late Flights
Go to work during the day, then take a flight out at night. Maybe I’m weird but I love red eye flights! This is especially good when you’re traveling more than 8 hours. You can sleep on the plane then wake up and hit the ground running when you get to your destination.

Maximizing your vacation time is all about planning. Whether you have 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or more, there are simple tips and tricks for turning that 2 weeks in 4 weeks. Don’t let fear of taking time off from work keep you from seeing the world.

What other tips do you have for maximizing your time off?



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