2018 Update: We still love this poll and discussion about how much vacation time people took, but you may want to check out our most recent discussion of how many vacation days people used.
As 2009 draws to a close, inevitably many of you are preparing for vacation. As some of the weekend commenters noted, it is vitally important for one’s sanity that you take vacation regularly — but then, it’s often difficult if you’re particularly busy. (In fact, as we write this, a good friend has been up working for 36 hours straight — while on “vacation.”) So let’s talk about this. (Pictured: intense aruba sunset, originally uploaded to Flickr by atomicshark.)
First, a poll:
For our $.02, our goal has always been to use as much vacation time as possible, particularly since we’ve never worked in a job where vacation days “rolled over” or could be used in a subsequent year. Our preferred method of using as many vacation days as possible has been the 4-day weekend (or perhaps a 5-day weekend, such as around the 4th of July) — if you’re still there for some of the week, it seems a bit less like your vacation is disrupting the workflow. This, unfortunately, means that many hard-to-get-to locales are left unexplored — after all, if you’re only taking a 5-day vacation you can’t very well visit a place that takes a day just to get to — but at least means that you’ve had a break from work, mentally. It also avoids the heartbreak of planning a 10-day trip to an exciting spot only to have work interfere and prevent you from going. (Hint to all those finishing school and planning a trip before you start work — this is one of the only times you’ll have to travel for two weeks or more without guilt, so use them wisely. Similarly, honeymoons tend to be respected by superiors.) Last-minute jaunts can be a great way to make use of unexpected slow times at the office, also — we like the website Jauntsetter for last-minute jaunts for NYCers; most airlines also have e-mails listing weekend sales.
Another trick we’ve used is to plan the entire year’s vacations at once — in December, for example. If you have some time over the next week or so, we highly recommend looking at the entire calendar for 2010 now — figure out when major events are (a wedding in Miami, the last day of finals, your child’s spring break) and try to plan a few days’ worth of padding on either side of the events — reserving the space for your vacation now. Put reminders on your calendar far in advance so you’ll remember to buy the tickets and accommodations. (Be warned: a lot of major holidays are on the weekend this year — July 4th is a Sunday, Christmas and New Year’s are on a Saturday — which inevitably will mean 2010 will be particularly hard to plan.)
Readers, what are your thoughts about vacations? What tricks have you developed to ensure you get yours?