Strategies to Maximize Your Vacation

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Most people have a favorite time of year to take vacation. Sometimes it’s a holdover from childhood. Sometimes it’s related to preferred activities (or preferred weather). And sometimes it tied to the requirements and expectations at work. In spite of this variety of underlying reasons, the majority of Americans (or at least the majority of those who actually take vacation!) prefer to travel in summer: 59% according to a recent survey conducted by Ask Your Target Market. Of those planning a summer vacation, the most popular month to travel is July, with the second week of July being the favorite vacation week.

Florida Memory, Public Domain, Flickr

So one way to make the most of precious vacation time might be to consider other times of the year. Here are a few reasons why that might make sense:

  • Fewer Crowds: Any activity that involves an entrance fee or line-ups of any kind will be a lot more enjoyable when it’s less crowded. So will beaches and swimming pools!
  • Cost savings: Supply and demand economics ensures that the most popular time to travel will be the most expensive time to travel. Gas, flights, accommodations and attractions are usually at their most expensive during peak vacation periods.
  • Extreme weather avoidance: Depending on your destination, traveling in the shoulder season may offer all the benefits of wonderful weather without the extreme heat and humidity of high summer. As an added bonus, most destinations are more affordable and less crowded during the shoulder season.

Scott Berkun, author and professional speaker, brings a different approach to vacation strategy. He suggests that you time your vacations based on the best opportunity for stress relief and anti-burnout potential. He also advocates working when everyone else is on vacation (e.g. the second week of July or the week between Christmas and New Year), since the office is usually quiet and relatively stress-free when it’s almost empty. Or, as he puts it:

“Spending your vacation on days when, had you gone to work, it would have felt like vacation is one of the worst bets in the vacation world.”

He offers the following questions[1]as a guide to help you decide when to book your next real vacation; and how to add some much-needed stress relief into your daily routine, if that break is too far in the future.

  1. When do you need stress relief the most?
  2. Are you, your friends, or your family, driving the use of your vacation days?
  3. When are other people at work on vacation or away, calming the workplace?
  4. Can you offset your own schedule, arriving at work before/after your coworkers, to make each morning a semi-vacation, free of interruptions or high stress?
  5. Can you make part of your daily schedule include time at the gym, the bar, the coffee shop, or with friends, breaking up every day with some kind of psychological reprieve?
  6. If work is really so unpleasant that you don’t have enough vacation to survive, perhaps it’s not the vacation that’s the problem, but the job itself.

It’s especially important for employees in the U.S. to be more strategic when planning for vacation. Not only do American workers get fewer paid vacation days than any other developed country; many of them also fail to use the days they do get!

In addition to considering other times of the year and taking time to identify the most stress reducing scheduling; you can also…

  • Take advantage of any public holidays you are already entitled to, add a few accrued vacation days and turn a long weekend into a longer break. For example, if you are entitled to a Federal Holiday on a Monday, and then take Tuesday through Friday off, you get a 9 day vacation for the “cost” of 4 vacation days. 
  • If you’re required to travel for work, consider adding on a vacation day or two at the beginning or end of your business trip. Many employers see the value in this strategy since as long as personal expenses are covered personally and you have unused vacation time available.
  • Look for destinations that offer excellent short trip opportunities. If you’re like most people, some of your best vacation memories were created on the day trips and short excursions you took during a longer vacation. If getting away for a week or more presents a challenge, there are thousands of fascinating destinations, within a few hours driving or flying time, that could provide an amazing weekend excursion.
  • Find out whether your employer is amenable to adding some unpaid leave to your available paid vacation so that you can plan something really exceptional.
  • Make sure every vacation day you take is a real vacation day. If you work when you’re on vacation, it’s not a vacation

One final note. Whether you’re heading to your preferred vacation spot within the next two weeks, or you won’t be taking a break until later in the year, be sure to make every minute count with confirmed strategies for increasing vacation happiness.  

 

Let TribeHR’s shared calendar and automated vacation requests help you maximize vacations for your team.  Try it free today!


[1] Scott Berkun  When Should You Take Vacation: Strategy http://scottberkun.com/2007/when-should-you-take-vacation-a-strategy/

Some Things are Worth Repeating

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One of the most disappointing reactions to the recent US Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of gay marriage was the number of employers who immediately sought legal advice on how to get around it. Bias by Mocks08, Flickr   Even when the collective consciousness of our society is raised by such a decision, many people still struggle to hold on to deeply held biases. Of course, if you’re one of those looking for ways around this new reality, you already know you have a bias (although you might not call it that!) A conscious bias is generally …

Human Rights and Human Wrongs

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From an HR perspective, any discussion of human rights typically revolves around discrimination and the prevention of discriminatory practices in hiring, managing or disciplining workers. Specifics about what constitutes discrimination, and who is protected against it, vary from one jurisdiction to another. In some ways, the U.S. sets a high standard for protecting human rights in the workplace, and yet it’s evident that: Photo by Jenny Downing, Flickr “The concept of workers’ rights as human rights has only recently begun to influence the formation and implementation of labor policy in the United States. In the …

Assessing Organizational Culture

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Sometimes it’s hard to define the culture of an organization. People who work there often have difficulty articulating specifics and even leaders can find it challenging to identify the elements of a company’s culture; this in spite of the fact that their own beliefs and behaviors create it. Because, consciously or subconsciously, leaders create workplace culture.   Thomas Kell and Gregory T. Carrott[1] found “that employees who work for the same corporation, no matter what their jobs, are 30% more likely to exhibit similar leadership competencies—defined as the way a person learns, deduces, envisions, …

How to Harness Workplace Stress

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You’ve probably heard some version of this saying: “it’s not what happens in your life that determines your [mood, success, happiness, etc.], it’s how you react to what happens.” Turns out, this even applies to stress. According to an eight year study that tracked 30,000 adults in the U.S., those participants who experienced a lot of stress in their lives and believed stress was bad for their health had a 43% increased risk of death; but those who did not consider stress harmful had no increased risk of death, regardless of the amount …

Leadership is Hard to Define

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Public Domain, Wikimedia Whether discussing local politics, volunteer experiences or the recent behavior of the management team at work, leadership (or the lack if it) always becomes part of the conversational thread. It seems that everyone has an opinion about leadership: one message that comes through clearly— and sometimes loudly— is that not everyone is cut out to be (or wants to be) a leader. At the same time, most of us crave the sense of rightness, belonging and purpose that great leaders inspire. Collective experience also confirms that not all leaders are created equal. In analyzing the …

The Challenge of Nepotism

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Most employers consider employee referrals a good source of new hires. Having a personal connection with someone who already works in an organization often translates into easier onboarding and longer tenure. But how close is too close? Photo by Earl M, Flickr The Merriam-Wbster dictionary defines nepotism as “the unfair practice by a powerful person of giving jobs and other favors to relatives.” Ethics educators, Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman, group favoritism, cronyism and nepotism together and describe them as follows:[1] Favoritism: Favoring a person not because he or she is doing the best job but rather because …

Food for Thought: What we eat affects our brain

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There is an increasing body of research illustrating the impact of food on the brain and our cognitive function. Children who come to school without breakfast have difficulty concentrating. Certain food additives have been shown to decrease a person’s ability to focus. Many of the best known studies focus on the impact of food choices on the teachability of young people. As a result, advocates like Jamie Oliver are adamant about changing children’s relationship to food by educating them about where it comes from, how to cook it and what it does to (and for) our …

Networking For (and With) Introverts

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On May 28/15, I attended Communitech’s Technology Leadership Conference (TLCWR) in Kitchener. The first keynote speaker (Susan Cain, author of Quiet), was an ironic choice for an audience made up primarily of reserved tech-types. She spoke about her book and her commitment to making the world, and in particular the workplace, more accepting of introverts. Photo by Joe Wolf, Flickr One of the most amusing parts of her presentation occurred when she asked this introvert-skewed audience to form impromptu groups of 4-5 people and share personal stories. The collective angst in the room was palpable—as was the …

Asking for Help: Succeeding Through Collaboration

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I’ve always tried to be self-sufficient. Occasionally, this need for independence runs away with me and I consider retreating to a cabin in the woods; off the grid in a self-sustaining bubble of blissful, unfettered freedom. When I come back down to Earth, I realize that the colleagues, friends and family I hold dear make this fantasy just that—fantastical. Unless, of course, I could convince ALL of them to join me in my escape! Photo by Max Wolfe, Wikimedia Commons At the root of this escapist whimsy is a personality trait that has shaped my entire …

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The Latest from Workplace Tribes
Strategies to Maximize Your Vacation July 07, 2015
Some Things are Worth Repeating July 02, 2015
Human Rights and Human Wrongs June 30, 2015
Assessing Organizational Culture June 25, 2015
How to Harness Workplace Stress June 23, 2015
 
Leadership is Hard to Define June 18, 2015
The Challenge of Nepotism June 16, 2015
Food for Thought: What we eat affects our brain June 11, 2015
Networking For (and With) Introverts June 09, 2015
Asking for Help: Succeeding Through Collaboration June 04, 2015