11 Vacation Hacks For Full-Time Employees Wanting To Travel More

(Making the most out of your vacation leaves)

Okay, you’ve set aside an amount for travel. But you have so little time. The world is unfair, you might think. Well, not at all time. No worries. In this post, I am sharing some vacation hacks that you might find useful in making the most out of your vacation leave credits.

If you’ve got the usual 9-5 job (like me), you understand that scheduling a vacation has always been a challenge. Heck! What can you do with your 5-day vacation leave credits in a year? (Or, if your employer is a bit more generous, with your 10?) Still, those are not enough if you desire for a bit longer vacation, right?

I must admit that in almost 12 years of working in a regular office work, I’m only enjoying a 7-day leave credit in a year. However, this did not, do not, and will not hamper my desire to go out – to have fun under the sun, to meet people, and to engage myself more with nature.

Over the course of my corporate life, I have realized that, indeed, if there’s a will, there’s a way. I have learned how to maximize the little leave credits I have. And I am sharing in this post how I have been doing it.

So, here are some tips on how you can maximize your vacation leaves without compromising your corporate responsibility.

Tip # 1: Plot your calendar ahead of time

When I say ahead of time, I mean WAAAY ahead of time. If you are working in the Philippines, you know that the government here announces holiday schedules in advance; that is, the list of holiday schedules for next year is announced this year. You should take advantage of that by plotting early. In my case, I literally label my calendar to have a clear picture of the holiday schedules.

Why plot early? Very simply, you can almost always have better results when things are done in an ideal pace. In other words, you have more time to fine-tune your vacation schedules to make the most out of it.

Tip # 2: Schedule vacation adjacent to weekend blocks

If your planned destination just needs a 3-day or 4-day vacation, it makes sense to schedule your leave adjacent to weekend blocks/dates. This way, you are going to spend just 1 or 2 days VL credits. Please note, however, that weekends tend to be more busy than weekdays. With that, it is just necessary to confirm your schedules at your destination ahead of time – e.g. your hotel booking, your passes for attractions that offer only limited slots in a day, among others. Book early, that is.

Tip # 3: Consider ‘sandwich’ strategy

Fill in your leave schedules between weekends and holidays. I call it the “sandwich” strategy. Take a look at your plotted calendar and check if you’ve got holidays that fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If there is, you can take advantage of that to schedule a 3-day or 4-day (or even a 5-day) vacation while taking only 1 or 2 days from your leave credits.

Tip # 4: Watch out for movable holiday schedules

If you plot your holiday calendar early, you have an almost definite set of holiday schedules. But keep an eye on movable holiday schedules. Basically, these are holidays that tend to change dates as year changes or those observances that are celebrated in a national scale but are not marked red in the calendar (meaning not regular holiday) but still, they could be declared as regular holidays rather late. So, again, watch out for these holidays, most especially if they fall on a Tuesday or Thursday as they might be moved by the government on a Monday or Friday, respectively. With that, you might not need to spend a vacation leave credit for a 3-day vacation.

Tip # 5: Take advantage of company-declared holidays

If you are employed in a company like the one I am currently employed at, you experience getting company-declared holidays. Yes, this can be seldom, but it can happen. What are these holidays, by the way? These are days not declared by the government as regular holidays, but companies find it necessary to schedule them as regular ones. In the Philippines, some of company-declared holidays include: The days before or after Christmas Day or New Year’s Day; Halloween (aka All Saints Day and All Souls Day).

Tip # 6: Make use of special non-working holidays

In the Philippines, again, the government usually declares pretty a number of special non-working holidays. If you are working in the country, you should know this. These are holidays that are not weighted to be affecting people in a national scale, so they are not deemed as regular holidays. A good example of this is a local or city’s founding anniversary, which covers only a certain geographic area.

So, if you are dying to visit a particular vacation spot, you might want to schedule it during a special non-working holiday in your area. Try to find out when is your city’s founding anniversary as it might be declared as a non-working holiday. And make your itinerary ready, in case it will be. Please note, however, that this type of holiday is a no work, no pay one. Well, that’s life. There is always a trade-off.

Tip # 7: Take advantage of company-sponsored getaways

I can’t find any compelling reason why you should skip a company-sponsored getaway – unless, of course, you are in a serious condition or you have some issues at home that require your presence.

While some of your co-workers might skip your company-sponsored holiday, you should not do the same; that is, if you want to travel more. You should take advantage of this event. After all, it is all charged to your company. You can go to a place without having to spend a dime. You have free food, free accommodation, free transportation – not to mention you are not spending a VL credit. What else can you ask for?

So, if your company is planning for a beach holiday or an out-of-town vacation for its founding anniversary, then seize that day, man!

Tip # 8: Negotiate to telecommute

If the nature of your job is mostly computer works, then working remotely should not be a problem for as long as you have a stable internet connection. Try to negotiate with your boss to telecommute. There is a big chance that your request gets approved, most especially these days when telecommuting has become a trend.

What does it like to be working while on vacation at the same time? Well, I haven’t tried it yet but based on the experience of those I know who have been doing it, it works quite well. They just schedule all their travel activities during daytime and then go to work at the hotel where they stay (or at a co-working space) at night at most four hours a day. And, note that, with the spike in numbers of digital nomads these days, co-working spaces are also on the rise, making working while vacationing a lot easier.

What will happen when all of your vacation leave credits are exhausted? Does that mean it’s the end of the line? Well, no.

Tip # 9: Negotiate for SL credit to VL credit conversion

If you still have sick leave credits, you can ask your boss if it is possible to convert it to vacation leave credits. In other words, you negotiate your vacation schedule to be charged on your sick leave credits. That way, you are still paid while you are in a vacation. If you have been good at your work, this should not come as a hard deal. However, the drawback of this strategy is that, once approved, you are no longer to receive monetary conversion of unused sick leave credits, which is usually given at the end of year. But then again, life has always a trade-off. Just deal with it.

Tip # 10: Take special assignments

In the past, I accepted quite a number of special assignments (a.k.a. official business assignments) from my boss. These assignments required me to travel places – one of the reasons why I accepted them. Do I still accept special assignments today? Of course, I do. 😀

If your boss offers you a special assignment, and if you think you can handle it well, why don’t accept it? Why not take advantage of the opportunity most especially if it is at your company’s expense? With that, you get a chance to visit new places without spending a VL credit, not to mention you are spending no fortune for it.

Tip # 11: Do a great job at work

Vacation for full-time employees
Image source:

This is a pretty subtle strategy for your travel goal, but I have proven it myself to be effective as well. I remember when my boss gave me a 2-day vacation leave because I “was doing a great job.” I was able to spend it for another yet memorable out-of-town getaway.

Always strive do great at work; you never know what particular reward awaits you.

Having a regular 9-5 work is indeed quite challenging and that includes plotting vacation schedules. But that should not cripple your desire to breathe some fresh air once in a while. You just need to learn the art of good scheduling and negotiating to realize your travel goals.

And to close this post, take this cliché: You can always make money but not memories.

Travel more, guys!

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