Are you Afraid to Take a Vacation?

Newport Beach Sunset

Newport Beach Sunset

I came up with a lot of article ideas on my last vacation to Hawaii. There was something about the crisp Hawaiian air that inspired me to write and I actually spent most mornings working out on the lanai. But after that, I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted. The ironic part about the whole trip was that I almost didn’t even take it. Since I just started a new job, I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to take 3 days of vacation within the first three months of being hired. Even though my new job was very slow right before the holidays and there were lots of people with nothing to do, I still felt a little guilty asking for 3 days off.

I only get 2 weeks of vacation every year at my new job but they did front me the first week right when I started. The decision to go on this trip was actually made a lot easier since almost everything I booked was non-refundable. I’m not sure what I would have done if my boss told me I couldn’t go. Either way, he seemed to be ok with it so I didn’t have a problem taking the time off.

Frowning Upon Vacation

There are certain companies and industries where it’s expected that employees not use their vacation days. Personally, I’ve never worked for a company like that but I know they are out there. That type of culture has always perplexed me though. Why would a company offer 2-5 weeks of paid vacation per year and then expect their employees not to take it? With other companies, there may be unwritten rules where if you take too much vacation you’ll be considered a slacker.

Clearly I’ve never subscribed to those theories since I left my last job with exactly .2 days of vacation left. In fact, I even bought an extra week of vacation at my last job since they offered it. I think the more time off you take, the better. But it’s often tricky to navigate office politics when it comes to vacations. Some bosses are encouraging and completely cool with their employees taking a vacation while others think work should always be your main priority.

Take it if They’ll Give it

I think if a company is willing to give you X weeks of vacation, then you should go ahead and take it all. In the future, there’s going to be a big shift in the way we treat vacation as younger more life-work balance oriented employees take over. Most of my friends love to travel and they haven’t let a full time job get in the way of that. Personally, I prioritize experiences over stuff too so I’m all for traveling and seeing the world. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of great places to visit in the United States too. I’m at 20 states and counting but I still haven’t been to countless national parks, monuments and some major cities on the East Coast.

Unlimited Vacation

The nicest part about working for yourself is that you can take vacation whenever you want. Just the other day, two of my high school friends asked me if I wanted to accompany them on a two week trip to Southeast Asia in the Spring. I absolutely love Thailand and since roundtrip flights were only $900 at the time my immediate response was yes. But I quickly remembered that I’ll have about 0 days of vacation at that time and I don’t think my boss will let me take a 2 week unpaid vacation right before I take 3 weeks of unpaid vacation for my wedding and honeymoon in the summer.

I’ve always found it strange that companies are willing to pay you for not coming to work. Paid vacation is one of the biggest benefits of having a day job but I would rather work less and get paid less. In fact, that’s why I started this site in the first place. I don’t think I need to work 40 hours a week and I know I don’t need the salary from 40 hours a week in order to be happy.

It’s obviously a fine line that you have to walk since the more time you take off and the more you go on vacation, the less money you’ll have to spend on those vacations. But if your profession allows you to work remotely(like my second job working online), there’s really no limit to the amount of vacation you can take. It’s pretty easy to work for a few hours in the morning and still have the rest of the day to do as you please. I know there are some jobs that are very flexible when it comes to vacation but I like having the freedom to vacation whenever and wherever I want. Obviously it’s nice to get paid while you’re on vacation but if my main job only requires a few hours of work a day anyways, it’s pretty easy to accomplish that no matter where you are.

Readers, what are your thoughts on taking vacation? Do you have to ask your boss’ permission before you plan a trip? Would you mind taking unpaid vacation if it meant you could take more of it?

-Harry @ The Four Hour Work Day

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I'm Mr. 4HWD, I started this site because I think everyone should be able to work at a job they enjoy and still have time to do all the fun stuff. I don't want to retire early, I want to work four hours a day on the things I love for the rest of my life.

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  1. says

    I’ve taken only a single weeklong completely unplugged, disconnected fully from work, vacation over the past several years. The “unspoken rule” definitely exists at my office, and within the entertainment industry as a whole. The exception is between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Hopefully things will be easier at my next job.
    Cashville Skyline recently posted…Flying Solo and Thriving with Mental IllnessMy Profile

    • Mr. 4HWD says

      Interesting, I don’t think I’d be able to work in an industry like that unless I really loved it. You must love your job :) or do you not mind not taking vacations?

  2. says

    Historically, I have shied away from taking a lot of vacation, but I’m starting to realize I shouldn’t feel guilty and rush my vacations instead of taking the extra day or two that will help me relax.

    I’m planning on taking 4+ weeks off over the next 10 months, so maybe I was just saving it for these two big trips.

    If the employer offers it, definitely use it at some point!
    Daniel recently posted…How Much to Spend on Wine at Each Stage Of Life and Income LevelMy Profile

    • Mr. 4HWD says

      Absolutely not. If your employer is going to give you X number of vacation days, I don’t see why you shouldn’t take it. If they were going to give you a raise, would you say no to that? haha :)

  3. says

    I 100% endorse taking all of my vacation. I think a reset and a refresh makes for a more productive employee and a company that frowns upon it is definitley not somewhere that I would like to work. In Australia it is manditory to give 4 weeks paid leave for all full time employees, and some employers will offer extra unpaid depending on their policies. Based on that, I take a holiday (or 2) every single year, even if I don’t go overseas.
    Cara Brett recently posted…Why you shouldn’t buy life insurance from the TV until you read thisMy Profile

    • Mr. 4HWD says

      There’s definitely something to be said about how much vacation workers in other countries get compared to the US. But I also had a very interesting conversation with an uber successful CEO of multiple companies who told me that’s also why there’s not nearly as much innovation and business success. There’s a reason why all of the hottest start-ups, and successful new businesses are coming out of the US and it has a lot to do with how hard we work.

      I’m more in the middle since although I want to be very successful, I don’t mind giving up the ultimate prize of being filthy rich and powerful to work 8 hours a day and take vacations whenever I want.

  4. says

    This is so sad, but I just realized that I have never, ever, taken a vacation besides a weekend away, mainly because I have never had paid vacation time – and I’m and accountant. Even when I had my daughter, I only took 3.5 weeks off becuase 1) the time was not paid and 2) because I had only been there 10 months when she was born, I technically had been terminated when I went into labor…how sad is that. Luckily, they love me at my job, so they were thrilled when I came back, but now my time with the company has started over so I will not have any vacation time until a year from now :-(
    Retired by 40 recently posted…Life Update 2/18/14My Profile

    • Mr. 4HWD says

      That is kind of sad, how long have you been working for? I honestly love taking vacation(s) but I could see how some people get so used to the routine of going in to work every day. Personally though, I think life is all about balance: finding a balance between working, personal life and vacation. Obviously your income, savings habit, etc are also going to dictate a big part of how you feel about vacation. But as long as you’re happy :)

  5. says

    Personally though, I think life is all about balance: finding a balance between working, personal life and vacation. Obviously your income, savings habit, etc are also going to dictate a big part of how you feel about vacation. But as long as you’re happy :)


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