Being a procrastinator when it comes to planning out your vacations may mean you're more spontaneous, but it doesn't mean you've made the most of that precious vacation time. I'm not saying you didn't make the most of your vacation or enjoy the time you spent on it. What I am saying is you may have cheated yourself out of another, just as wonderful, vacation. You may have lost out on many vacations....
You work hard to gain vacation time at your job. Some people don't have that luxury at all. Generally speaking, you've worked years accumulating 2-3 weeks of vacation. Do you know what that means? That means you're working 49-50 weeks a year. YOU'RE WORKING 49-50 WEEKS A YEAR! So, those 2-3 weeks of vacation...those 10-15/365 days...those are freaking precious.
Unless you miraculously 100% love what you do, vacation is the time you get to decompress & see family - What you actually do love doing. So what I'm saying here is, treat it like it's the ring from The Lord of Rings, like it's your virginity in high school, like it's your hair before you have to get it dyed. Do right by your vacation time because Lord knows it does right by you.
So how do you do it? How do you squeeze a few more trips out of that rare commodity? I'm sure everyone has their own OCD way of doing it, but obviously mine is the best 😉 So here you go, my top secret tips & tricks to "Making The Most Of Your Vacation Time".
1 | Keep Track
If you're not a computer person, a good old-fashioned piece of paper, pencil & calculator will do just fine. If you are a computer person, Microsoft Excel is your best friend for this. How you compile all of this data is really up to you, but you should definitely be keeping a running tally of your used/available vacation time. Throw your known vacation time for the year down (including rollover if you have it) and then begin subtracting. I subtract hours I have to take on holidays because my job only gives me 8 hours for holidays and I'm on a 9 hour work schedule...so I have to take an hour of vacation for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so on. Subtract vacation you already know you'll have to take to go home and see family. Make notes with regards to what/why you are subtracting. This way you'll know what the heck you were doing when you look back at this tally in 3 months trying to see if you can just stay home because you simply cannot adult that day.
2 | Rollover Time
Guys & gals, if your company lets you rollover vacation - YOU WIN. YOU'RE WINNING. Research it (call your HR department), find out how much you're actually allowed to roll over. This is your secret weapon. If you're trying to go overseas for vacation, a week just won't cut it. It really only makes sense to take a two week trip when you factor in how much time you're going to lose with the flights. In some cases, this could mean your precious vacation stash is gone in one foul swoop. That's no bueno. The only way to make this work in a realistic way is if you plan ahead. If you're thinking ahead, you'll already have a plan in place to be sure you're rolling over vacation so that you have enough "I can't adult" days to take off that year.
3 | Stateside Travel
The majority of this blog consists of travel within the US. I do this on purpose. For one, as a whole, we don't give this place enough credit. There is some sort of surreal/amazing/spectacular aura associated with traveling far, far away. I don't know why, but it seems we’re convinced the further away from home we travel, the better the vacation will be. If you focus purely on your wild wanderlust - you will find surreal/amazing/spectacular things within the US. Hell, you can probably find it within 200 miles of your own home! You may be thinking, "The culture - I have to travel internationally to experience a different culture”. While you may not be able to fully submerge yourself into a culture as vastly different as, say, that of the Chinese, you CAN discover remarkable cultures and regions here in the US. International adventures have their place in our dreams as well, but they aren’t always a feasible option, and they often mean you can travel LESS (not the goal, for me at least!). Like I mentioned, it’s possible. Think ahead, allot the time - GO! Personally, those amazing International trips (that can only happen every other year) just don't cut it. I. Need. More. So, I travel stateside A LOT & you should too.
4 | Mark Your Calendar
Go find that email your work sent out at the end of last year detailing what "holidays" you get this year. Mark them all on your calendar. Now go take a look at those holidays - Are there any vacations you were already planning to take around that time? If so, will it be a hassle to have them intersect with one of those days off? If not, you just saved yourself an entire day of vacation. No big deal right? Wrong. 1 day out of 10 or 15 days is a big deal. That's a day of vacation that you could smash against a weekend and travel to Denver or San Antonio or the coast for 3 days of relaxation & fun! That's an entire extra vacation you didn't have before. Remember, 1 day of vacation time can easily be turned into a 3 day weekend retreat. Heck, smash that vacation day onto a Friday of a weekend that you already have a Monday off due to holiday and BAM - 4 days in Cancun. If you don't have a vacation you're planning to take around a holiday you already have off, plan one, you won't regret it.
5 | Arrive Late
This is arguably one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. They hate the idea of flying/traveling late at night so they take a half-day of vacation. This way they get to their hotel in time for their normal bedtime. WHAT?! You're killing me. First of all, flights are cheaper when they are later. Second of all, roads aren't jam packed with traffic. Maybe it's the getting to bed thing that's tripping you up? Sleep on the plane (couple of glasses of wine can help you along), share driving responsibilities, drink coffee in the morning. Guess what - study after study has proven you can't actually "catch up" on sleep so just wave good-bye and save that vacation time. Seriously, fly out after work and sleep in the next day, you're on vacation after all. Don't waste your precious vacation time to do something dreadful like fly or drive. Just please, don't do it.