You may have accumulated vacation days and need to take a break from your hectic schedule. But, you have no idea how to start planning. Wondering how to make the most out of your vacation days? Whether you have three vacation days or two weeks, follow these handy tips to make the most out of your holiday!
Tip #1: Keep track of how many paid vacation days you have and when they expire.
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Yes, vacation days do expire. Sometimes employees get so busy at work that they forget to keep track of how many vacation days they have accrued. Or, you might know you have vacation days, but have been so busy at work that you are considering banking them instead of taking them. Not all vacation days, however, roll over into the next year. If you’re not sure what your employer’s policies are regarding vacation days, double check so you don’t accidentally forfeit days that you have earned.
Tip #2: Don’t wait until the last minute.
When you do decide to use your vacation days, make sure to plan as far ahead as possible. If you wait until the last minute, it may be more difficult to schedule your vacation days due to your co-workers’ schedules or projects going on at work. If your spouse is also trying to schedule vacation time, it makes sense to plan your vacation days as far ahead as possible.
Tip #3: Stretch out limited vacation days.
Even if you only have a limited amount of vacation days, you can still make the most of them. In fact, you can actually stretch out the length of your vacation by how you choose to schedule it. One smart tip is to schedule weekends into your trip. For example, if you have seven vacation days, you might consider starting your vacation on Saturday morning (or even Friday night), then taking the next five consecutive weekdays as your actual work vacation days. Tack on the following two-day weekend, then take your last two vacation days on Monday and Tuesday. You’ve just turned a seven-day vacation into 11 vacation days! Some other ways to maximize your limited vacation days include scheduling them around long-term holidays, such as Thanksgiving Day weekend, or around Christmas and New Year’s, if your employer offers a paid employee holiday at that time.
Even if your vacation days are limited, you can still bookend them around long holiday weekends as well, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend. Another way to maximize your limited vacation days from work is to tack them onto an existing business trip.
Tip #4: Short term or long-term?
If you’re looking to take an extended vacation of two to three weeks, find out if you are able to bank your vacation days for the following year. For example, if you already get seven vacation days per year, and are permitted to bank them, you can take a 14-day vacation the next year. Or, you might prefer taking several short-term trips of two or three days throughout the year. Whichever way you decide to schedule your vacation, selecting a destination that is easy to get to, or is not too far away from home by either car of plane, is another way to spend your vacation wisely. You will spend more time vacationing and less time travelling.
Tip #5: Start saving early.
Once your vacation is on the schedule, you’ll need to figure out how you can afford it. Decide what type of vacation you would like to take. Explore places to go. Determine the cost. Create a budget and start a weekly savings plan. In addition to saving money from your earnings, consider curbing your current “extra” expenditures to get the funds you need, sell unwanted items, or get an extra part-time job.
Tip #6: Vacations don’t need to be expensive.
Look into hotels and resorts that offer special two or three night packages at a lower cost. Camping is another inexpensive option to get away and spend time outdoors and can include canoeing, swimming, hiking, or fishing. Another option is to visit friends or relatives or take an extended family trip and split the costs. You can also opt to stay home and relax or work on home beautifying projects. Or, you can stay home and splurge by eating out at a fancy restaurant, going to a spa, or making a day trip to a luxurious resort.
Tip #7: Plan the details early.
Whatever type of vacation you choose to take, to use your vacation days wisely, plan the details as early as you can. Do you need to make reservations? Do you need to enlist the help of others to help watch your house or your pets? Do the kids need a school note if you are travelling during the school year? Are there any special discounts or offers available? Plan ahead because you never know if the place you’re planning to visit is closed on certain days, is only open seasonally, or is undergoing renovation. You don’t want to be surprised when you reach your destination.
Tip #8: Don’t feel rushed or stressed. Since your time is limited, the last thing you want is to feel rushed or stressed out while getting ready for your vacation. Try to get as much work done as you can at your place of employment, so you’re not worrying about work piling up while you’re away. You can pack your bags ahead of time the week before you leave. Make or buy snacks for the road. Pack sunscreen, extra clothing, medicines, water bottles, extra water, and a cooler, if you are going on a road trip, and fill up your vehicle the day before. Loading your vehicle the day before also helps alleviate stress, so that all you have to do the morning of your departure is to make a cup of coffee, get the kids ready, and turn on the ignition.
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Tip #9: Stay away from the office.
Limit your use of electronics to make the most of your vacation days, and don’t email or call the office to see how things are going. You’ve earned your vacation, so now go out and enjoy it!