A New Way to Think About Your Vacation Time
Plan it out ahead of time to make the most of it. Yes, even now.
In late 2019, I got an idea: I would plan the entire next year’s vacations at once.
There were a few reasons I thought this was a brilliant approach. First, my husband and I could block the same dates that our kids weren’t in school, so all our days off would coordinate. Second, it allowed for better interfamily PR; the ski faction wouldn’t grumble about spring break beach plans, since they knew we had a booking in Colorado over Christmas. And finally, research finds that anticipation accounts for the bulk of the happiness associated with any vacation — so planning far ahead meant we would have a lot to look forward to in 2020.
By thinking of the year holistically, and then managing your “portfolio” of vacation time, you can maximize your enjoyment, whatever life dishes up.
Make the Plan Even If You Know It Won’t Happen
Just the act of making a plan has huge benefits
Look at the whole year at once
While vacation time varies wildly, most workers have a reasonable number of days to play with. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. worker with five years of experience at a company has 15 paid vacation days. Add in the major holidays when many offices close (a few days around Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day) and many people are looking at 20-plus days to allocate in the portfolio. By strategically stacking vacation days with holidays and weekends, you can score multiple longer chunks (for example, nine days around Thanksgiving for the price of three vacation days if your office closes for that Thursday and Friday). You can also pepper the calendar with smaller bits of time off where they’d do the most strategic good.
So look at a calendar of the whole year. Look at your kids’ school calendars. Map out what time would make sense for the big chunks — maybe spring break, a few days around the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving week. Or maybe you’re not beholden to…