#OperationTakeYourVacation: How to Maximize Your Days Off

It is no secret that Americans typically receive less vacation days than other workers in developed countries. And even though our PTO is limited the below info graphic from Statista shows that less than half of the population is using all of their vacation days. 

I’ve heard various explanations for why people are not using their vacation days. Some common reasons:

  • Vacations are a luxury
  • Vacations are expensive
  • Expected to work even when not in the office
  • Saving days in case an unexpected emergency arises
  • Saving days for a payout when leaving the company
  • Taking a vacation will result in falling behind in work
  • Those who use all of their PTO are not viewed as hard workers

The above arguments are simply excuses. In Why You Need to Encourage Employees to Use Their Vacation Time Will Yakowicz writes that “…employees who take a vacation are more likely to get promoted and get a raise.” This is due to the fact that vacation gives a worker time to unwind. Time away from the job allows a person to return to work with a clear mind that allows for better performance. Make no mistake time away does not need to be time spent in an exotic or tropical locale. A staycation or day of errands are both effective in relieving stress and increasing productivity.

I receive 2 weeks of PTO (paid time off) a year. This is in line with the national average of 12 days of PTO. However, I’ve figured out ways to maximize my days off and have visited 7 countries and 3 states in 2016, with trips to 4 more countries by year end already booked. The tips I use are not complicated, but I am sharing them in the hopes that it will inspire you to use more, if not all of your vacation days this year.

  1. Take advantage of holidays. One of the easiest and most effective ways to maximize your days off is to plan vacations on days that coincide with holidays. This method is not an option if you don’t receive holiday pay. However, if you’re fortunate enough to get paid for national holidays this is perfect for you. One drawback of this technique is that airlines often charge more to fly around popular holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s. Yet, a low fare can be obtained if you plan which days you’ll be taking in advance and track flight prices.
  2. Take off a portion of a day instead of a whole day. Any time away from the office is effective in helping workers unwind. Another way to stretch your vacation days further is to take a half day off instead of a full day. Using this strategy will allow you to turn 12 full days of PTO into 24 half days.
  3. Telework or work remotely. If you have the option to work from outside of the office, why not work from a location other than your home? This strategy works best if you will be visiting someplace with a time zone that is the same or only a few hours different from that of your workplace.
  4. Book evening flights or red eyes.When possible, book flights later in the day to minimize the time you will need to request off. Red eyes are not usually preferred by travelers, but they will allow you to request one less day away from the office. A bonus of taking a red eye is that they are usually cheaper than flights being offered at other hours.
  5. Rearrange your hours worked.Speak to your supervisor about working different hours. Instead of working 9AM-5PM come in earlier in order to catch an evening flight or come in late and work until after 5PM in order to take advantage of a flight that returns in the morning.

Hopefully one or more of these tips proves helpful. #OperationTakeYourVacation is now in effect! No days left behind.

*For more information on the benefits of taking time off of work visit Project Time Off.

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