How To Hack Your Paid Time Off For Longer Vacations
Planning a vacation is almost just as fun as experiencing it. You can figure out what places you want to visit, how late you want to sleep in, and what games, movies, and books you can finally enjoy. But when life is crazy and you feel constantly exhausted, it's all too easy to spend months looking forward to a vacation and then have it go by in the blink of an eye.
We've realized that over the past few years, we've been living and working at a pace that is no longer sustainable, and if there's one thing that trends like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting have taught us, it's that we're all burnt out and need a break.
Before you block off time on your calendar and set your OOO email message, check out our best tips for making the most of your paid time off and vacations this year — both when it comes to maximizing your time and maximizing your rest.
What Is Paid Time Off?
Paid time off (also known as PTO) is a benefit where your employer provides you with a set amount of paid time that you can use for vacation, sick days, or other personal time. Before we get into the different kinds of PTO, there are a few ground rules.
You always want to check with your manager before booking a trip. Even if your company is laid-back, asking off as early as you can will allow your team to plan around your PTO and be better positioned to approve your trip. On the flip side, you want to be respectful of the paid time off policy and understand how many days off you're recommended to take each year. Life is all about striking a balance, so keep reading for everything you need to know about your PTO.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Paid Time Off?
There are three main kinds of PTO that employers use (Accrual, Allotment, and Unlimited) to give their employees time off throughout the year. Your vacations could look different depending on which one you have, so here's what each of those means:
Accrual Paid Time Off
Accrual PTO is something that you can accumulate over a period of time, whether it's an hourly, weekly, monthly, or annual basis.
Allotment Paid Time Off
Allotment means that you have been allotted a number of days every year that you can ask off, and they either expire or roll over to the next year.
Unlimited Paid Time Off
In theory, unlimited time off means that you can ask off as many days as you want, but definitely check with your manager before doing so! Within your specific vacation option, here are some more kinds of PTO to consider:
Mental Health Days + Sick Days
If your office allows you to take days for your physical and mental health, see if you get paid out for the days if they go unused. If you have a set number that you can use up before the end of the year, you might be able to string multiple time off allotments together for a long weekend.
This paid time off is a little different than the others because taking care of a newborn is definitely not the same thing as going on a beach vacation, but it's still helpful to know if your company offers you this option.
Some companies allow their employees to take off early on Fridays to enjoy time with friends and family before coming back in on Monday morning. It gives us the same feeling that getting out of school early did as kids, and if you have this option, take advantage of it!
How Many Federal Holidays Are In 2023?
Here's a list of the Federal holidays that are recognized by the US government. While state and private businesses don't have to observe these days, a lot of them will!
- New Year's Day (observed on Monday January 2, 2023)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (observed on Monday January 16, 2023)
- President's Day (observed on Monday February 20, 2023)
- Memorial Day (observed on Monday May 29, 2023)
- Juneteenth Independence Day (observed on Monday June 19, 2023)
- Independence Day (observed on Tuesday July 4, 2023)
- Labor Day (observed on Monday September 4, 2023)
- Indigenous People's Day (observed on Monday October 9, 2023)
- Veterans Day (observed on Friday November 10, 2023)
- Thanksgiving Day (observed on Thursday November 23, 2023)
- Christmas Day (observed on Monday December 25, 2023)
Ways That You Can Maximize Your Paid Time Off In 2023
Tack It On
Save a day or two of your paid time off by planning trips around long weekends already recognized by your company. By adding a couple of days to a short break where you're already given a Federal holiday off, you can end up enjoying a four- or five-day vacay, without actually using up five of your days off.
Extend A Business Trip (Or Wedding)
If you're already in a dreamy destination for a work trip, a family reunion, or a wedding, consider booking a night or two at a nearby hotel. It's like getting a two-for-one vacation since you'll only be traveling once.
Tackle Chores Before
If you can't relax when your home is messy, pick one day at the beginning of your vacay (or a work night before your vacation officially starts) to knock out all the chores that have been piling up. That way, you're not cleaning when you should be resting *and* you can fully unwind.
Backload Your Vacay
Instead of bookending a trip with days off, plan to travel to your destination right after you get off work. We've found that we need a few days to get back into the swing of things after a vacation, so saving extra paid time off on the backside of a trip when we get home allows us to feel fully rested. If you're the same way, this could totally change how you vacation.
Travel overnight when you can. Flying during the early hours of the morning is a little bit easier than driving since you're able to sleep on the plane. And when you're in paradise at 9 in the morning instead of late afternoon, you'll be glad you picked a red-eye!
Have A Staycation
If you're in dire need of some rest and don't want to use up two of your days off for travel, consider booking an AirBnb nearby or just turning your home into a cozy staycation oasis. That's basically like getting 48 hours back, and you'll be able to enjoy the parts of your hometown you might not get to see when you're in the middle of work and other commitments.
Use Up Weekends
If you're able to take off a whole week at once, make sure you're maximizing the surrounding weekends. Instead of flying in on Sunday afternoon and flying out Saturday morning, switch them! Get to your destination on Friday night or Saturday morning and check out on Sunday afternoon or evening. A few extra hours in relaxation mode will make all the difference.
Image via Roberto Nickson/Pexels
Use Up Your Paid Time Off!!
In 2022, only 45 percent of Americans actually used up all of their PTO. You can't unwind on a vacation if you don't actually take one. There are books to be read, new recipes to try, and memories to be made with your family. Take advantage of it!
How do you maximize your paid time off? Let us know in the comments and tag us in your vacay pics on Instagram — we want to see them ALL!
Featured image viaRoberto Nickson/Pexels
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B+C Assistant Editor, Swiftie | If she's not writing, Chloe's probably watching a Marvel movie with a cherry coke or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta and @afangirlfirst on Twitter!