When I was offered my new job in 2016 I already had an upcoming trip planned for that summer. It would have taken up half of the standard two week vacation time they were offering. During my salary negations, I agreed to start one week earlier in exchange for not having my trip to South America count against my time off. If you are getting a new job always compare your total compensation package (salary, benefits, 401K, stock options, PTO, flex days, holidays, etc) to what your new potential job is offering to find potential gaps and leverage your worth.
Travel around holidays
I use holidays that I know I will have off as prime time to catch a flight. For instance, Memorial Day or Labor day are great times to not only get deals on air travel but to also use days that are already built in that you will not have to take off so you can save for your longer trips. Example: A five day trip over Labor day can cost you two vacation days if you leave on a Wednesday afternoon/evening and return late Monday. Also look at Good Friday, Fourth of July, MLK, and President’s day as other holiday options.
Use it, don’t lose it
Always check your company’s policy on rolling over time. In my current role, I can roll over up to 40 hours for the next year. At the end of 2017, I had 70 hours left over and took off 30 which allotted me an additional week of vacation for 2018. Last year I went to Caribana, Cuba, Costa Rica, Chicago, New York, California, home to visit my family in Indiana, and the Poconos to name a few and still had almost two weeks’ worth of PTO to play around with.
Flexible working time
Working from home days are also great ways to travel and get out. If you can work remotely, do it. This flexibility also can be determined by the level of work and relationship with your direct manager. I wanted to go to a conference in Atlanta and my boss told me don’t worry about PTO. He trusted I would still get my work done in the absence of me not being in the office.
Know when you need to actually take time off
I know that everything doesn’t require me to take time off of work or I try to fly around events. Granted depending on what is going on you may or may not have the freedom to do so. I don’t mind taking extremely early flights or late ones. As a bonus, I’ve gotten cheaper flights flying out extremely late on Fridays or Early on Saturdays then returning first thing Monday morning. Using websites like Hopper or Google Flights to see your various fare options if your schedule permits.
However, you decide to spend plan your PTO out the most important thing to do is to actually take it. It is there to give us needed breaks from work, time with our families, and more. You may not be a jet-setter or flight hopper but take a personal day to clear your mind; spend time with your grandparents for a day or just rest. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Besides, do you really want to spend another day scrolling through Instagram wishing that was you on the beach with your friends instead of listening to Barb from HR talk about her cat again?