Still Have Unused Vacation Days? Fall Is A Great Time To Use Them

office job According to the most recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, U.S. employees have an average of eight unused vacation days this fall. Not only that, but 38% of workers are expected to lose them completely. While some people don’t know they can use them this late in the year, others are stressed out with work and don’t know if they can take the time away from the office.

“Many workers get caught up in their busy schedules, and before they know it, the year is winding down and they think it’s too late to use their vacation days. The truth is, it’s not too late,” Lesley Trudelle of American Express Travel explained to Gadling. “Others can feel they have too much going on to allow themselves a vacation away from work and everyday life, but it is so important to allow time away from your desk to de-stress.”

In fact, a study done earlier this year showed nearly 60% of workers said losing paid vacation time decreased their well being. Additionally, subjects reported feeling revitalized, energetic and more productive after using their vacation days. If you still have some left, know autumn is a great time to use these unused vacation days.

Why Use Them Now?

Because fall is shoulder season in most places and there are fewer crowds, travelers can take advantage of more deals. It also tends to be less expensive, allowing you to take advantage of luxurious amenities for a discounted price. Weather can be more reliable, with less rain, lower temperatures and less humidity. Although November is still fall, in many places it’s not even considered shoulder season but off-season. This means you’ll enjoy quick service, quieter sightseeing and cheaper travel, many times by hundreds of dollars.calendar How To Make The Most Of Unused Vacation Days

There are a few ways people can really make the most of their unused vacation days. For one, do a bit of research and look for promotions. Generally, the Caribbean is popular due to its reliable more mild weather and sunny days. It’s also much more private during this time, which can be great if you’re looking for a romantic getaway.

Says Trudelle, “The kids are back in school so the beaches are less crowded for fall travelers, plus resorts are offering amazing savings.”

In Europe, places such as Austria and Scotland are also popular for fall, as these two usually expensive destinations drop dramatically in price.

It can also help to be flexible with your travel dates. Of course, depending on your job you may only have a certain amount of leeway. However, if you have the ability to be flexible, check airfare a few days before and after your expected travel dates. Sites like Kayak and Spirit Airlines even show you calendars so you can see how airfare prices differ from day to day. Changing your booking by one day could potentially save you $100 or more.

Additionally, if you’re really stressed and don’t want to leave the office for too long, think about taking a long weekend. You would only have to use two vacation days, and could go to a nearby destination without feeling rushed. For example, if you live on the east coast on the United States, taking a trip to eastern Canada or the Caribbean is quick and easy.

wine Where To Go?

The study also looked at the most popular destinations for fall travel. While 37% will be traveling domestically, 7% are planning to go abroad. For those traveling internationally, 32% are headed to Europe, while 29% will be heading to the Caribbean. So, where how should you use your unused vacation days?

“A great fall destination can be different for everyone, as a traveler’s individual personality is more apt in determining the experience they are seeking than anything else,” explains Trudelle. “That being said, I’d say if you can find great deals, exciting events and festivals, activities to enjoy the outdoors, or something to see or do that is exclusive to this season, then you’ve found yourself a great spot for a fall getaway.”

Along with the Caribbean and Europe, one popular option is South America, as fall in the United States is summer over there. You can head to the beach in Brazil, enjoy up to 16 hours of daylight in Patagonia or sunny days with no humidity in northern Chile. South Africa also experiences opposite seasons, with their summer running from mid-October to mid-February, although you’ll usually still end up paying less than you would on flights June through August in November. Experience whale season, go turtle tracking, take part in a safari, hike through Table Mountain National Park or just relax at one of the many spas. And for those looking to get away from the warmth and enjoy crisp weather, head to Utah or Colorado for their ski season openings.

fall foliage If you want to do something fall-inspired, there are a few domestic destinations for U.S. travelers. Head to Napa Valley and experience the tail end of their fall harvest. There are still various events happening in the upcoming weeks, like Flavor! Napa Valley, B Cellars: Harvest Celebration and the Napa Valley Film Festival with wine and food tasting.

In Arizona, the weather cools down dramatically in November but still ranges from around 49 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, depending where you are and what time it is. It’s a great time to explore the Grand Canyon, Oak Green Canyon, Saguaro National Park and other places of natural beauty while not having to deal with unbearable heat. There are also numerous festivals at that time, including the American Heritage Festival, American Indian Heritage Festival, Arizona Wine Growers Festival at The Farm, ArtFest of Scottsdale and more. Click here for a full listing.

And, if you want to get really festive, head to birthplace of Thanksgiving, Plymouth, Massachusetts. You’ll be able to catch the end of the cranberry harvest season and tour some local farms. Additionally, the area is home to many scenic spots like Ellisville Harbor State Park, Pilgrim Memorial State Park and the nearby Ames Nowell State Park. Those interested in history will have much to discover. You can visit The Jabez Howland House, an original 17th-century two-story house where pilgrims once lived, the 1749 Court House and Museum, which is the oldest wooden courthouse and longest used municipal building in America and the Alden House Museum, where you can learn about John Alden and Priscilla Mullins who arrived on the “Mayflower” in 1620. Event-wise, Plymouth has much to offer in November, like all-day tours and tastings at the Mayflower Brewing Company, a delicious journey into the past at Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims, a deeper look at local production with the Cranberry Bog Tour and a parade and feast at America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration.

[Images via Shutterstock]

How to get out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend

Back in June, maybe getting away for Labor Day weekend just didn’t seem possible. Maybe there were too many looming commitments or perhaps money seemed too tight. But now your time has been freed up and you’re seeing all the low-priced flights and deals available for Labor Day. You’re ready to get out of town and three days just isn’t enough. But the odds of your boss granting you an extra day off this late in the game are slim. How can you weasel out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend?

Step 1: Assess the situation
Determine how likely your boss is to grant you the time off. think about what matters most to your boss and how they treat time off. This will determine your strategy. Is your boss a sucker for a sad story? Can you pull on his or her heartstrings to score the time off? How heavy is your workload, and will going missing a day put any of your co-workers in a bad position? Is your boss understanding when you are ill or does he or she expect you to come in anyways?

Step 2: Know the company policy
Some offices have a policy that if you call in sick on a day immediately before or after a holiday, you don’t get paid for the time, or you may need to provide a doctor’s note. Others limit the number of staff that can take vacation on the same day. Knowing what rules your company has will also help you form your strategy.

Step 3: Form a plan
If you think there’s a good chance your boss will give you the day off, it’s best to just come right out and ask. But, the way you ask can determine the answer. Asking for time off to go on a last-minute fun-filled vacation may sound frivolous to a hard-working boss. Taking the day to volunteer or get in some much-needed medical appointments might go over better. A more sympathetic boss might be swayed if you say that some cherished relatives you haven’t seen in years are coming into town just for the day, or that it’s “family day” at the assisted-living home where your dear, aging grandparents live and you’ll be so disappointed to miss it. Be sure to stress how important the day off is to you, and reassure your boss that you won’t get behind on your work by missing another day. If you think it’s highly unlikely the boss will give you the time off, a better strategy might be to just plan on calling in sick or having a “family emergency” come up.

Step 4: Lay the Groundwork
Now is the time to start building the base of your excuse. If you plan on asking directly, just do it. But if you’ll be getting sick, start working up a gentle cough, sniffling occasionally, and talk about how run-down you feel. Let your personal appearance get a little ragged, keep a bottle of cough medicine on your desk, and mention that at your spouse’s/roommate’s office, the flu is going around. Or explain that you have a mild toothache (which will then require an emergency root canal on your chosen day off) or that your car has been making weird noises lately (which is a prelude to it breaking down so you can’t get to work).

Step 5: Enjoy your day off. . . but be careful
If you’ve asked for and been granted the day off, good for you. If not, and you are going with the dishonest option, make sure you don’t return to work with the unmistakable look of someone who has just been on vacation. A deep tan is a sure giveaway. If you opted to be “sick”, you should appear to recover over the course of a few days. If your car “broke down”, mention the costly repairs and be sure to not park your perfectly fine car in the same lot as the boss’!

If a full day off isn’t what you’re after, you can still make the most of the three-day weekend by extending your travel time a little. Take off right from work on Friday, leaving a few hours early if you can. If you are flying to your destination, try to book the first flight back on Tuesday morning. You’ll get a few extra hours of vacation by not coming back Monday night, and you won’t have to miss more than an hour or two of work. you can keep your boss happy, and squeeze just a bit more time into your three-day weekend.

Which European Country Works the Hardest?

I have always been under the impression that Europeans worked fewer hours than Americans. However, a new survey shows that more than one country’s population averages over 40 hours per week on the job.

Romania and Bulgaria are home to the hardest workers on the continent. According to research conducted by The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the citizens of these new EU members average 41.7 hours per week at the office. The UK ranks next, at 41.4 hours.

Overall, the 12 newest EU states worked more than the original members (40.6 hours compared to 39.5). At the other end of the spectrum sit the French. They work a leisurely 37.7 hours each week. That might sound like a healthy workload, but France’s Minister of Finance recently criticized her country-people for not working hard enough. Italians also boast an under 40 hour work week (38.4 hours). Eurofound put the mean number of days off per year at 25. In the US, the average number of paid vacation days is 14.

Source

The Horrible Reason why Americans don’t take all their Vacation Days

Here’s a horrific quote: “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.”

Ouch!

The statement is from a recent report, No-Vacation Nation, written by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The report paints a sorry picture of the American workplace which columnist Ezra Klein has expanded upon in his rather depressing analysis, Keeping up is Getting us Down.

Every other advanced economy offers a government guarantee of paid vacation to its workforce,” Klein states, rattling off the number of days guaranteed in Britain (20), Germany (24), and France (30). And then, just to make us Americans feel worse, he throws out a couple more statistics to really hammer the point home.

10% of full-time employees in America get no vacation
60% of part-time employees in America get no vacation
Those who do get vacation take only 12 days a year on average

Klein explains this tragedy as the result of misplaced incentives. Americans, he argues, are more concerned with directing their earnings towards “positional goods.” These are products which allows one to compete with the goods purchased by others in the same socio-economic class. In other words, it’s the keeping-up-with-the-Jones syndrome in which Americans are obsessed with improving their “standard of living relative to their neighbors.”

And, as a result, they are willing to sacrifice vacation time to get ahead.

Hmm… I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, but I do have to admit knowing quite a number of fellow Americans who never end up taking all of their vacation days in a given year. Of course, they all have nicer cars and houses than I do…