Traveling makes me greedy. The more I travel the more I want to travel! But we’ve still got to balance our wanderlust with everyone’s favorite limiting factors: time and money.
Right now we are privileged to only have one job to accommodate, and Chris has a generous vacation/PTO plan. It’s still something we have to work around though! Especially since Chris is new and had to start his accrual from the beginning!
In addition to the items below, we never ever use PTO for anything other than travel or hosting travelers. He has his sick days if he gets sick, but if he needs to go to the DMV or something, we’ll do anything legal to avoid taking a vacation day! Drive 2 hours to a DMV that’s open on Saturday? Sure.
So what are we doing to maximize our vacation time?
1) Traveling around holidays.
The downside is that there may be more crowds or costs may be inflated, but we were able to get a great deal by flying on the 4th and we’ll land in California in time for fireworks! Likewise, by being a bit flexible with my Hawaii dates, we were able to get a good deal on those flights.
2) Take the red eye.
In October we’ll be flying to London for a short trip. We’ll be hopping on the flight after work Friday and spending a full 3.5 days before heading back Tuesday. Flying through the night and not having to take Friday off saves us one precious vacation day!
3) Split up.
For Easter, the kids and I flew east Wednesday-Wednesday. The flights were cheapest and that meant we had a good long trip. Chris had only accrued 2 vacation days and we weren’t trying to zero him out, so we paid a little more and he left after work Friday and returned Monday so as to only use 1 day.
We may end up doing the same or similar for a wedding that’s coming up in November or for Christmas. It’s hard for me to fly solo with the kids and it can be a bummer for Chris to miss out on part of the festivities, but it’s worth it when we can save a whole PTO day!
4) Short trips on the weekend.
We have reservations for 3 camping trips coming up and we aren’t planning to take any time off! We’ll head out after work Friday and be back Sunday evening. Since we keep these trips within a 4-hour drive, we still get to spend close to a full 2 days, and it helps quench our wanderlust and introduce us to cool places!
5) Capitalize on business travel.
Last year Chris went to Thailand for work and we tagged along! Of course, we were very careful not to interfere with his work in any way, but it was basically a 25% discount on a trip to Thailand and it didn’t cost Chris any vacation time at all! Unfortunately, it also wasn’t a vacation for Chris and he hardly saw a single thing in Bangkok, but we sure did!
I’m hoping next time he gets to go someplace cool, we’ll join him midweek and have him stay a couple extra days. This way he uses some vacation time, gets to relax, but doesn’t need any PTO for the travel time!
Another business travel “hack” we’re working on is flying Chris home to a different airport. We had a planned camping trip on the books when we found out he needed to travel during the week. Technically there was no conflict because we weren’t planning to leave until after work Friday, but we realized that Chris could fly directly there at no extra cost to the company. This means the kids and I will be able to leave 5 or 6 hours earlier than we originally planned and the whole family will be around the fire for dinner!