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Milking Vacation Days for All They're Worth (which is a lot!)

In 2017, I spent 4 full days exploring one of my "Bucket List" cities, New Orleans

Things I hear a lot:

“Good grief! How much vacation do you get?!”

“Are you EVER at work?”

“It’s like all you ever do is travel!”

Sometimes I get these questions and comments (largely meant to be rhetorical, I’m sure) at an opportune moment and like to actually engage them. Usually I start by asking my own question: “How many vacation days do you get?”

Most of the time, that person is surprised to learn that they have just as many (if not more!) vacation days than I do. Even if it’s less, they’re usually shocked or confused by how it “seems” like I’m always on vacation, but I have a pretty normal amount of vacation days.

The difference is in how I use those days.

Having worked at the same company for 15 years, I’ve accrued 25 days. (That’s 5 work-weeks for the math-impaired.)

Using those days, in 2017 I took ELEVEN vacations, only one of which capitalized on a holiday (Labor Day) to extend the trip.

Of those 11, I left the country once.

I traveled to 5 U.S. destinations that I’d never visited before.

I took two trips to New York City and one to my other favorite getaway spot, Wilmington, NC.

Two more trips took me to other parts of North Carolina, and another two took place in my home state of Virginia.

In addition, I used 1.5 vacation days without traveling anywhere, but I did binge-watch season 2 of The Crown and celebrated Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family, so that was time well spent.

Going back to 2016, I required 10 vacation days for a most-spectacular trip to Italy, but still took 6 other trips within the U.S. that year.

So, how do I (and how can YOU) make your vacation days stretch farther?

1. I don’t use vacation days as “I don’t feel like working today” days.

2. I don’t use vacation days to handle errands or tasks around the house, because I do those things on lunch, in the evenings, or on weekends.

3. I don’t add vacation days before or after a trip to “prepare” or to “recuperate.” Good time management means you won’t be scrambling to prepare the day before the trip. As to a recovery day when you get home, I understand why some feel it’s necessary, but if you take 5 trips per year, then you’ve lost a whole work-week of vacation on laundry and Netflix. I’d rather be a little sluggish for a few days and put those days toward the next break.

4. If you have the option to bank holidays or get comp time, by all means capitalize on that time for your next vacation!

5. Above all, I go on vacation prepared and with a plan, so I get more bang for my buck and leave everyone thinking I must have been on vacation for a week, when really I just had a fun and action-packed long weekend. I’ll let you in on one of my travel planning secrets: I don’t start by deciding how many days to go on vacation. I start by deciding what I want to do, and THEN I figure out how many days that will take, thereby ensuring that I don’t run out of time to see everything, AND that I don’t waste a vacation day without something to do.

Naturally, if you're eager to put your vacation days to better and more efficient use, I happen to know someone who can help you do it!

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