So you have all of your vacation days left and you want to take a trip. What’s the appropriate amount of days to take off at one time? Just a few? One week? Two? Who cares because I’m not coming back? Just kidding.
The question can be a difficult one to answer as every situation is different but following these general steps should help you arrive at the appropriate answer.
Every time I start a new job I am up front with my manager. When you’re having the conversation about general guidelines (ex. Can I work from home? What time does the team usually get here?, etc), work in a question regarding vacation policy. Something to the effect of, “I love to travel. It’s really important to me to maintain that balance. And generally I like to plan a few trips a year. What is your policy for requesting time off? Do you need a formal notice? How much advance notice do you like?” This lets them know that travel is one of your priorities so they can expect you to use your allotted time off. If you receive push back on this, then you have a bigger problem. Is this really the manager/company you really want to work for? Every manager I’ve ever set expectations with has happily supported my trips as long as I followed the below guidelines.
Do your job well
Don’t expect to take off two weeks if you’ve been slacking for two months. Come on now. Work hard, play harder. If you excel at your job, no one is going to care when you take the time off. In fact, they’ll think you deserve it, you hard worker you.
Give appropriate notice
Make sure you give the appropriate notice, as it complies with your team’s structure. Send your manager an email a month before, perhaps put a placeholder notice on any teammate’s calendars that you support, etc. Whatever it is, be sure you’ve given ample advance notice (as much as possible given the circumstance of your trip). The last thing you want is for your manager and team to be left hanging and it jeporadize future trips.
Consider the Time of Year
Is it a busy time of the year for your team? Are others taking vacation? I try to arrange my vacations around holidays whenever possible since those are generally a slower time for my team. Take a look at your team’s year plan and try to take your vacation days when it is the least busy.
Take Advantage of a Holiday
This goes hand in hand with the above point. Take advantage of a holiday that your company already has off. That way you could take 4 vacation days instead of 5 (to have the week off) and generally others on your team will be doing the same.
If you have a job that requires tasks to be completed during your absence, be sure to arrange backup in advance. Ask a teammate and promise them a souvenir if they help you out. Send a note to your manager with the name and contact info of your backup. Do this before they ask. It’s always better to be proactive and your manager will know you thought this through.
If all else fails….ask your manager or a teammate
If you really don’t know what the appropriate time to take off is, just ask! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
So how much time do I take off? I usually take my days around a company holiday so that I can maximize my vacation days as well as be mindful of my team. The most I take off at a time is 10 days. I do this mostly because I still want some days left over for other trips but also because I think two weeks is a good chunk of time to take off. I am comfortable doing this because I always follow all of the above guidelines and don’t let my quality of work become affected. Don’t be afraid to take time off! Just do it the right way.
Ready to take that vacation? Check out the below posts for some inspiration:
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