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.
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