The Economics of Selecting Vacation Days

It’s no secret that the majority of people dislike employment. Making money is certainly fun, but being told what to do – not so much. Deep down, everybody knows what makes them happy. That’s why it’s so important to find a profitable hobby. Turn what you love into a sustainable future. Fairly soon, your entire life will feel like a vacation.

Until then – while you’re slaving away with your tedious tasks – here are a few ways to maximize your vacation days in order to ensure happiness and prevent burnout:

Mondays > Fridays

Too many people take Fridays off. It is really nice to have a long-weekend but have you thought about taking Monday off instead of Friday? Think about it. Fridays are already awesome. Typically the mood in the office is going to lively because people are excited for the weekend. In most lines of work, Fridays are the easiest, most enjoyable days. On the contrary, most people are grumpy on Mondays. Most problems seem to arise on Mondays. While your co-workers are dealing with these issues, you’re out relaxing. Traveling is typically going to be worse on a Friday for people driving away on the weekend.

Use Holidays Strategically

Here is a list of Federal Holidays. Use them to your advantage.

Monday, January 2* New Year’s Day
Monday, January 16 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 20** President’s Day
Monday, May 28 Memorial Day
Wednesday, July 4 Independence Day
Monday, September 3 Labor Day
Monday, October 8 Columbus Day
Monday, November 12*** Veterans Day
Thursday, November 22 Thanksgiving Day
Tuesday, December 25 Christmas Day

For example, want to plan a get-away but can’t find the time? Use one of these long-weekends to supplement your vacation days. Instead of using 5 vacation days on 1 trip, simply use 2 vacation days – use Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – and you have yourself a 5 day vacation. Kinda nice – and you still have 3 in the bank!

One Week Vacation

To piggy-back off of the prior example, it’s extremely important to get out of the office for 5 consecutive days. For the same reasons I recommend people not blog every day in fear of burnout. When you return, you’ll feel incredibly refreshed.

Go Places

Stay-cations have grown in popularity in recent years. I’m blaming this primarily on budget. A lot of people like the luxury of accomplishing things at home without the pressure of thinking about work. Some people are extremely production during their stay-cations while others allow themselves to relax.

In my opinion, stay-cations are dumb. Everything you want to accomplish during your time away from work could have already been accomplished during your normal schedule. If you disagree then you’re either poor at managing your time or not trying hard enough.

Instead, go somewhere. Do something. More specifically, do something that will make your co-workers jealous when you return.

Create Your Own Holiday

The federal government, which I love so dearly, gives us 10 pre-selected holidays each year. As thankful as I am for these days off, I rarely celebrate the day how our four fathers would have liked. What I like to do is create my own holiday – meaning – find something you’re passionate about and take that day off. For me, it’s the first weekend of March Madness. I will usually take half-days Thursday and Friday and spend the entire weekend in Heaven.

Forget Your Birthday

Birthdays are overrated. I see a lot of people request them off and I don’t understand why. Why would I want to take a day off that EVERYBODY treats me like a king and does whatever I want? If you insist on honoring your birth in some way, take the day off AFTER you birthday. Now you’ll be able to celebrate as you please.

These are just a few ideas to think about while selection your vacation days during the 2012 year.

How do you select your vacation days?

This post was written by A. Blinkin.


The Economics of Selecting Vacation Days — 37 Comments

  1. I definitely use my vacation days strategically. I have a spreadsheet that I’m always changing and messing around with.

    I’ve also never taken a whole week off, but my first time will be in March, I cannot wait!

  2. I think I’ve taken the week around the 4th of July off since I stared working, which always means I have to take just four days off to get the full week off. I’ll also take the Friday off before a Monday holiday to get a double weekend at only half the ‘cost’

  3. This is a perk to being a teacher; lots of vacation days! Now, I normally teach summer school, but I still end up with plenty of weeks off during the summer (about 4 to 6). The pay is less, but the vacation is great. 😉

  4. We absolutely plan our VC days strategically! In addition to holidays we also work compressed work weeks where we work 33m extra per day and get every 3rd Friday off (term ADO: additional day off). This amounts to 17 or 18 extra Fridays off every year! So we use the stat holidays and ADOs in conjunction with our vacation days (I get 4 weeks, Mrs. SPF gets 3 weeks).

    I will be taking August off for Paternity Leave as well. I’ll use a few weeks (2) in late July to extend this out to a 6 week leave.

    • Congrats on the baby on the way! You’re taking vacation planning to the next level: Advanced Vacation 501. I wish I could use the extra hours I work one day to offset the hours I’m set to work another day.

      • lil SPF was actually born last September so he’ll be 9.5 months old when I take the vacation + parental leave.

        We work in a union environment that does not pay over time so extra time, if we want it, can be used in the ADO fashion. That being said, I do work extra time and don’t count my travel time (many count every second beyond the 7.25 hrs they are supposed to work) – I figure that my employer is flexible about my getting to the dentist or bank. But then, that is likely because the manager knows I give a little take a little and my job performance is good. He likely has bigger HR issues to think about!

  5. I don’t think stay-cations are dumb in the slightest, regardless of the budget. If someone wants to explore his local surroundings when he is in a relaxed mood and not thinking about work, then more power to him.

    My concern about taking only Mondays off is that typically “Tuesday becomes the new Monday” (that’s if you hate your job).

    • Maybe I can’t call stay-cations dumb because I’ve never had one. Can’t someone explore their local surroundings in a relaxed mood on the weekends? I thought that’s what weekends were for? I use vacations as a chance to see the world, not see the nearest home depot.

      I don’t see Tuesday becoming the new Monday because everybody else will have still worked Monday. They already got their frustrations out of the way so on Tuesday (when you return) they are much happier creatures.

  6. I usually take my vacation days based on what I need to when I Leave town – usually I’ll have to take off a friday afternoon to get to the airport for a weekend trip. I dont really travel much on holidays because it’s too crowded (unless I HAVE to). For my vacation days, since I just started a new job, I had to use them strategically to make sure I didnt use too many and not have enough when I went on my alaska trip – this of course is happening again for my honeymoon, but after that I should have plenty to go around

  7. “Think about it. Fridays are already awesome” Haha, great point about taking off Fridays!

    I like your strategy here, and I follow a lot of this myself. Taking the 5 days in a row helps to bridge the weekends, and that’s a must in my book for longer trips.

    • Fridays are fantastic. Everyone is relaxed and ready for weekend. Most people will even choose to dip out early. Now Mondays are miserable. Everyone is down in the dumps. So given the choice: would you rather be around people that are miserable and happy? Seems like an easy decision to me.

  8. The best time to take vacations is when everyone else isn’t on vacation. For example, spring break, January after holidays, week between christmas and new year’s. The commute is better and the office is quieter when they are all out.

    • I really like the way you phrased this…If you’re working while everyone else is out – the peacefulness you’ll find is a vacation in itself. Then when they return, you’re taking off for yet another vacation. Double the pleasure.

  9. I always use vacation days to make an already long weekend longer. I have taken mondays off before for vacation, really just depends on if I’m going out of town or not, mostly I take Fridays off.

    • There certainly are a lot of “depends.” For instance, what’s the difference in plane ticket? I’ll be in new Orleans next weekend. Took Friday off in tandem with Monday (holiday). Worked out well.

    • I started taking the day after my birthday off – anticipating a hangover really. Whenever I’ve spent my birthday at work, it’s been a nonstop party all day. I definitely don’t want to miss that.

  10. I agree with you about taking vacation on Monday instead of Friday. Also, it’s better to take entire week off to rejuvenate your mood. Great article. I definitely implement these ideas.

  11. It constantly amazes me how many people there are out there that never take their allotted vacation days. How do you leave those on the table? Maybe an article on when you can credibly take sick days even when you’re not sick is in order? 😉

  12. May favorite strategy is using holidays to extend my vacations. Like you noted their are some many holidays that fall on Monday. I tend to take that Thursday and Friday off and there you have a five day vacation. Fridays do tend to go a lot faster than Mondays but a lot of times they really want you in the office on Monday mornings.

  13. I am all about using your time strategically and around holidays. Unfortunately, our office is small and it seems that everyone wants time off around holidays. But someone still needs to work! 🙂 I worked last Xmas and I am planning on working through this one as well.

    • That’s definitely one negative if you’re in a smaller company (but there are so many positives I’m sure). I’m guessing if you’re working when the rest of these folks are off, it’s almost like a vacation in your office? Very peaceful I’m sure.

  14. I’m with you on the birthday thing. I never understood why you would want to be scooped up alone at home on their birthday when they could have been at work surrounded by folks who at minimum, generally take it easy on you cause it’s your birthday. I also never take fridays off. In my office, NOTHING gets done on a friday so it’s already an easy day.

  15. I work in a small company. The problem with trying to take off a full week in connection with a holiday is that everyone else is thinking the same thing. I know this is probably true in large companies too. It just makes it a challenge to actually succeed.

  16. A lot of great ideas in this article. However I like to take a Monday through aFriday off once a year. I do this so I can use the weekends as bumpers and come home on a Friday this way I don’t have to go back to work the next day.

  17. I recommend asking your finance or HR department how you are paid for vacation days. Usually you’re paid at the rate for the day that you accrued the vacation day, but if you’re lucky, your company will pay you at your current salary. That means if you accrued the day last year and have gotten a raise since, you’ll get your higher salary for your vacation day, even though you earned it at a lower salary. If that’s the case at your company, it makes sense to take unpaid time off until you reach your limit on vacation days, so you save up vacation days until you have a higher salary.

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