1) Understand your vacation policy
How many hours do you get per year in vacation? Do you get sick days? What about floating holidays? Are you able to go negative in hours? Do any hours expire at the end of the year? Are you allowed to carry over hours? How many days can you take off in a row? You should be able to answer all of the previous questions and have a true understanding of the policies in order to use your vacation hours efficiently. If you have any questions about the policies be sure to speak to your manager or HR. I track my vacation in an excel file which calculates the amount of time I have available at any week for the next two year, so I am able to look into the future to see when I have enough time to take a trip as well as a way to see if I have any remaining hours I need to spend which will expire at the end of the year.
2) Figure out what time works best
Its probably not best to take a vacation right when a major report is due or you may even have blackout periods where you cannot take vacation. Sit down and plan out what months work best and using the planning from the first step – you can figure out when your next vacation can be. Ensuring that you are not taking a vacation during inopportune times will help keep your coworkers and manager on your side when you put in your vacation request.
3) If you value longer trips be stingy with your days
When planning trips always ask your self if it is worth postponing your vacation each time you consider taking a single day off. Now sometimes you cant help it – if you get sick or have an emergency come up, but by keeping track of your vacation accruals you will know how much you can use in these situations. If you need to satisfy your travel bug consider weekend trips (which require 0 vacation days) over shorter 3-5 day vacations – which will enable you to get enough hours to take longer trips quicker.
4) Use holidays and weekends to your advantage for longer trips
One great way to extend the value of your vacation hours is to use holidays and weekends to your advantage when travelling. Consider the following 4 situations for a 2 week trip (10 working days):
- Depart on Monday, your first day off, and return on Friday of the second week, your last day off: This results in 12 traveling days using 10 vacation daysb)
- The same situation as above but leave after work on a Friday and return on the Sunday at the end of your vacation:16 traveling days using 10 vacation days.
- The same situation as above, but plan it so the vacation is around Labor Day (or another holiday):16 traveling days using 9 vacation days.
- The same situation as plan b, but travel around New Years and Christmas Day:16 traveling days using 8 vacation days
Clearly the fourth plan works best in extending the length of your trip (which comes in handy if you are traveling to Southeast Asia, Australia or Africa – all of which can require lengthy flights). So be sure to use holidays and weekends to your advantage when traveling.
Now that you know when you can go on a trip – all that’s left is to figure out where you want to go!