Most people in the US have two weeks vacation per year, maybe three. People in Europe tend to have a bit more, around four to six weeks. No matter how much or how little you have, you want to get the most out of what is available to you. So what are some ways to maximize your vacation days?
Plan Vacations Around Holidays
Look at the holidays in your work calendar. If the holiday falls on a Monday or Friday, you already have a three day weekend to play with. If the holiday is in the middle of the week, as is often the case in Germany (where I live), you can make an even longer weekend by taking a vacation day or two.
One year I planned a trip to Hong Kong and Australia for two weeks around Easter because my company gave us Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) off as a paid holiday. Instead of having to take off 10 days, I only needed nine.
Then I went to Ecuador for a week over Labor Day so I only needed four vacation days instead of five.
Another time, I added one vacation day onto Thanksgiving weekend and traveled to Prague for 3 days. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point.
Even if you don’t want to be away from family on big holidays like Christmas, take advantage of the smaller ones like Labor Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, or whatever holidays you get in your country. An extra day here and there can add up over the course of a year.
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Add Vacation Days to Business Trips
Do you travel for work? See if you can take a few vacation days before or after the business trip and see the city you’re visiting or even somewhere nearby.
Better yet, if you can plan the business trip at the beginning or end of the week, you can spend your weekend exploring.
Not everywhere you go for work will be vacation-worthy, but do some research. You never know what possibilities are hidden just below the surface or within a few hours.
A few years ago, I had to go to Connecticut with my boss for meetings on Thursday and Friday morning. Since I have a friend in New York City, I compared the price of the flight home from NYC instead of CT.
My boss approved it since it was actually cheaper (I’m sure I could’ve just paid the difference if it was more expensive) and I bought a train ticket from CT to NYC. I got to spend the weekend with my friend for very little extra expense to me, and I didn’t use any vacation time!
Pay Attention to Flight Times
When you’re booking your trip, choose your flight times wisely. A mid afternoon flight means you have to take at least half of a vacation day. If there’s an evening or nighttime option, you shouldn’t have to use any vacation time.
Leaving a few hours later shouldn’t make a huge difference to the time you spend on your trip, but it does mean you don’t have to use as much of your precious vacation time.
If there aren’t any flights that allow you to do this, talk to your boss about working extra to make up the time. It might not work, but you never know until you ask. If you can work one extra hour per day for four days, that’s a half day vacation you won’t have to use to make your flight.
Get creative with your vacation time. Choose flight times carefully. Plan trips around holidays or business trips to maximize your time off and the length of your trip while minimizing the amount of days you need to use to take the trip. By doing this, you can easily maximize your vacation days, stretching two weeks into three, and travel more!
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