When’s the last time you ran out of vacation days? As you might assume, I regularly use all of mine up. Did you know that an estimated 54% of Americans don’t use up all of their days? Too often, the concept of taking a break goes ignored by workaholics or workplace martyrs. Organized by Project: Time Off, January 30 was National Plan for Vacation Day!
If you’re like me, these “National” celebration days pop up when I’m least expecting them, and without enough notice to write a timely blog post. So, this is my belated plea for you to set aside about an hour this evening for vacation planning.
Reasons to save your vacation days:
- Excuses: “I’ll take a vacation after ______” The next project, the next deadline, we hire more people… excuses are easy to find.
- You love being stressed out?
- … I can’t think of other reasons!
Reasons to use your vacation days:
- Resting can improve not only your attitude, but also your work performance when you get back.
- Coworker relationships: Do you have that particular coworker who drives you up the wall day in and day out? You will be amazed how good being away from them will feel, and how small the annoying things will seem when you get back.
- Better relationships with family members. When’s the last time you escaped homework and household chores and just played? Unstructured time on vacation creates some lifetime memories.
- Change workplace culture: If your company is one that expects you to be a work martyr, stand up for yourself by taking a week off, and your coworkers will be inspired and do the same.
Vacation planning step by step:
- Consider which season will be best for you to take off of work.
- Set a reasonable vacation budget.
- With your selected season and budget in mind, select a great destination!
- Example: You can get some amazing deals to the Caribbean in fall, but that’s because it’s hurricane season. Would you like to spend a big chunk of your trip hunkered down against wind and rain?
- The Kayak explore feature can come in handy if you’re having a hard time choosing where to go. Set your dates and price and the computer will suggest locations you hadn’t considered!
- Request your vacation days off (if that’s your workplace structure).
- Book flights first, then hotels a little later. Here are my tips on spacing out bookings to stretch your money.
Treat yourself to a handful of days at a resort where the only decision you have to make will be to hang out at the beach or by the pool. Search resorts on Booking.com (affiliate).
Don’t feel weird if you’re asking for your vacation days off way in advance. It shows that you value planning ahead and also prevents your coworkers for snatching that week off before you get your chance. I’ve even requested days off 3 months ahead of time.
Bonus: Use my free downloadable trip planning sheets to help you budget your money in advance and your time while you’re there!
Make your declaration in the comments: Where do you plan on going this year, and when?
I plan on going to Prague and Budapest this fall!
Photos by Staci and Doug Jackson for The Voyageer.