Vacation Smart: Turning 18 vacation days to 30

How do I turn 18 vacation days to 30?

I add the national holidays observed by my employer (some companies observe up to 12 including New Year, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day among others) to my 18 vacation days, and travel around those holidays.

I’m a typical working class American with a full time job. Although I have heard of some companies in America giving their employees up to 25 days off, I get 18 days a year. I once worked in a company that initially gave me 12 days and increased it to 14 days after 2 years of service. Yikes!

As someone with a chronic case of wanderlust, 12 to 18 days of vacation is hardly enough for me- considering the fact that I try to travel several times a year.

My trips abroad last about 9 days on average. I try to visit as many countries as I can in a short period of time so I usually stay 3 -4 days per country. If a typical visit lasts 9 days, 18 vacation days means 2 trips a year. This is an impossible number of trips for an avid traveler like myself.

However, several trips can be planned in a year by maximizing vacation days.

“How is this possible?” you ask. Very simple! These tips will have you fulfilling all of your vacation dreams, with time to spare.

  • Working remotely (at the airport or on the plane)

Thanks to technology, a lot of things have become possible. Working remotely is one of such. Currently, a lot of employers allow their staff work remotely several days a week. If your employer allows working remotely, it comes in very handy while planning a vacation.

I usually work remotely the day I am leaving for a trip (if it falls on a weekday) so that I can travel in the morning or early afternoon. As a result of this, I work at the airport before my flight (so I don’t risk missing my flight) or on the plane. A lot of airports in America offer free WiFi.

I also only take flights that offer inflight WiFi so that I can purchase WiFi on the plane and work remotely for the duration of the flight. A large number of United Airlines and Star Alliance planes offer this service. In addition, I work remotely the day I come back from traveling so that I don’t have to use a vacation day.

  • Taking advantage of National Holidays

The United States has several national holidays that most, if not all employers have to observe as public holidays. Christmas Day, New Year, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Good Friday are all examples of such holidays. I have learnt to take advantage of these holidays by booking vacations around national holidays. This way, I use less vacation days. I recently traveled to Peru during memorial day weekend in May. By doing this, I only used 3 vacation days towards my 6 day trip. Here is a breakdown of my trip:

Wednesday, May 24 Departure, worked remotely
Thursday, May 25 Vacation
Friday, May 26 Vacation
Saturday, May 27 Weekend
Sunday, May 28 Weekend
Monday, May 29 Holiday
Tuesday, May 30 Vacation
Wednesday, May 31 Worked Remotely
  • Maximizing weekends

Another thing I do to prolong my vacation days is booking a vacation from one weekend to another. I would leave on Friday and come back the following Sunday or Monday morning. If I plan well enough and add a holiday to the mix, the vacation ends up lasting 8 to 9 days but only 4 vacation days are actually use used (Monday through Thursday, assuming the holiday is on Friday).

Smart right?

This method has never failed me!

  • Taking weekend trips

Taking an extended weekend trip within the US, Canada, Latin America, or the Caribbean is also an ideal way to vacation more. For example, a trip to Cancun, Mexico could easily be scheduled for a weekend. If the trip is properly planned, it can be scheduled around a national holiday. That way, more days can be spent in Cancun.

People constantly ask me if I have a day job, seeing as I travel a lot. Yes I do, but I use these tips to stretch my vacation days. With the tips above, I am able to travel several times a year without having to quit my day job.

How do you make the most out of your vacation days?

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