How to Maximize your Paid Time Off or Vacation Days.

You have probably wondered how others seem to manage long or frequent trips when paid time off/ vacation time can be so difficult to come by. While some people are fortunate enough to have great vacation time and flexible schedules built into their line of work, most people have to find ways to stretch the little paid time off they get.

Sometimes referred to as PTO, paid time off or vacation days are the amount of time (in days or hours) your employer will pay you while you are on leave. Some employers have a set amount of paid time off for all employees, while others are more flexible, but as long as paid time off is an option, you can find ways to make the most of it.

So how does one go about maximising their paid time off?

  1. Plan your vacation around holidays and/or existing days off.

This is one of the best ways to maximise your paid time off. If you are fortunate enough to have statutory holidays off or days in the year when your company is closed, and you are paid for it, adding a day or two on either side of the statutory holiday can extend a 3-day weekend into a 5-day trip.

Easter is one of my favourite times to travel because it is a four-day weekend. Depending on where you are headed, you may not even need to use any of your vacation days. However, travelling during easter can be expensive compared to other times in the year so keep this in mind.

2. Book direct flights.

If you are like me and you want to save on travel, then you know that flights taking you on a world tour before reaching your final destination tend to be cheaper. If you have limited time off, it may be better to book direct flights or flights with shorter/less layovers to maximise your time in your destination.

You should determine your threshold for booking direct flights vs flights with multiple connections based on your budget. For example, you might decide than an extra $100 for a direct flight is worthwhile, while $200 is not. I tend to think of how many hours it would take me to earn that extra amount for the direct flight, compared to the amount of extra time I need to take off/can’t spend in my final destination because of the round-about flight. Other times I am just simply not willing to spend 20 hours travelling when it could be 10.

3. Choose your flight times wisely.

Instead of booking my flights on the first day of my vacation time, I typically book my flights on my last day of work. This can be a hassle because it often means I have to bring my luggage to the office and head straight to the airport after work, but it can earn you anywhere from a few extra hours to a full day extra in your vacation destination.

Booking red-eye flights is another great way to do this, especially if you can sleep on the flight. Booking a red-eye that gets you into your destination early in the morning means that you can hit the ground running as soon as you arrive, instead of wasting a day of your vacation time in transit to your destination. The same can also apply to your return flight. Booking a flight later in the afternoon on the day of your departure, means you can user the half day before your flight to get in any last-minute exploring or relaxation before returning home.

4. Negotiate additional time off.

I saved this for last because as we know, not all employers are flexible, so this may not be an option for everyone. However, I have suggested 3 different ways that you can negotiate your work schedule for additional time off.

  • One way to negotiate additional time off is right when you are offered a new position. Always check or ask how much paid time off is offered and propose a counteroffer. The way I see it, the worst that can happen is that they say no. Do not try and negotiate this as part of the interview process, only after you have been formally offered the position.
    • If you will not be changing jobs or positions any time soon, you can still try to negotiate your paid time off with your employer. This will likely mean you will have to showcase your contributions to the company and how additional time off will be a benefit to both you and the company.
  • Another option is baking overtime as lieu instead of taking the payout. Some employers already offer this option to employees, but if not, you can always try to negotiate with your employer.
  • If you are due for a raise, you can also request additional paid time off instead of a pay raise. For example, you could ask to have the full pay increase banked as vacation time, or a percentage of your pay as banked time off. Not all employers will be willing to accept this proposal, but again, it is always worth giving it a shot.
  • The final way that you can negotiate additional time off is requesting to work remotely while travelling. If you have a 12-hour flight, you might request to complete work remotely while flying, and earn yourself an extra 12 hours of vacation time while you transit to your destination.

These are some options that you can explore to maximise your paid time off. Is there an option you are willing to try? Do you have other ways that you maximise your paid time off? Let me know in the comments!

Did you try any of these options and how did it go? Share your experiences in the comments!

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