Change the Trend: Use Your Vacation Days

Not everyone is as brazen as Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter. While his publication was in the middle of cutting 5 percent of its staff, he made himself scarce. But, you can do that when you’re the top dog. Most people don’t take vacations when the Grim Reaper is mingling among the cubicles. They’d rather be at their desks, they convince themselves, generating value for shareholders and demonstrating the return their employers get on their salaries. So, instead of going on vacation last year, many doubled down on the business of staying employed, always a priority when the unemployment rate hits double digits.

But, this can wear you down. Consider the factors converging on you: anxiety over your job, a shitty market for getting a new one, having to “do more with less,” survivor’s guilt, longer hours, smaller (or no) raises and bonuses and less appreciation. Now, take away the few days or weeks you take every year to recharge. What do you have left?

It’s a dismal situation, and it would be smart to commit to a vacation this year, especially if you didn’t take one at all in 2009.According to a new study by Right Management, the human resources consulting unit in Manpower, 66 percent of American employees didn’t use all their vacation days last year. Douglas Matthews, president and COO of Right Management was surprised: “We thought it would be about 50 percent.”

Doubtless, this was shaped by more than attempting to appear deeply committed to the job. Consumer spending spent most of 2009 in rough shape, as credit tightened and people repaid debt and held onto their cash in case they fell victim to the layoff trend. Dropping hefty amounts of dough on a trip entailed a financial risk that fewer people were willing to accept last year. Said Matthews, “The cost of taking a vacation is pretty high. He continued, Tons of people feel they don’t have the discretionary spending to take vacation, so they just stay at work.”

Simply staying at home while taking vacation time apparently wasn’t an attractive option. This feeds the other aspect of the dynamic. The notion that not going on vacation shows people how valuable you are was prevalent. Whether it’s a game of toughness among peers or jockeying for favor with the boss, there is a population that thinks it needs to make profound sacrifices to demonstrate its value.

Connie Thanasoulis, career services expert at, doesn’t see it this way. “It’s silly to think that giving up vacation is going to make your colleagues think how important you are,” she tells Forbes. “Take your vacation and let them miss you.”

Joan Kane, a Manhattan psychologist, is on board with this thinking, calling vacations “underrated.” She says, “People think they’re fluff. I believe they’re crucial.” In addition to keeping you on an even keel, vacations help you feel like you control your time. Even if this is only a brief sensation, it’s one you should allow your self to feel every now and then.

Kane notes, “On vacation you have no boss to satisfy … “You’re not under constant surveillance.

[Photo via MigrantBlogger]

Good news and bad: Rabbit Hill Inn extends pink slip getaways

I guess it’s a bad sign that this deal has been extended. Popular demand, however, has prompted the management of the Rabbit Hill Inn to stretch out its “Pink Slip Getaway Giveaway” program. Originally planned to run through the end of the year, it’s now going to last until April 2010. Every month – except September and October, the Rabbit Hill Inn will pony up at least one two-night getaway fro a couple that has been unemployed for at least six months. Hey, if it makes unemployment easier, why not?

“We initially planned to run the Pink Slip Getaway Giveaway program from April through December 2009, giving one getaway away per month,” co-owner Leslie Mulcahy said. “However, we received so many entries, we gave away additional getaways during the last few months, she continued, “Choosing the winners has been the toughest part.” So, the only solution was to give away more!

The conditions are pretty straightforward. You have to be at least 25 years old and been out of work for half a year or longer. Once you arrive, everything else is covered .. including a rabbit’s foot. To join, e-mail your story in a page or less to info [at]

Laid off? Take off! Intrepid extends deal

Layoffs may be slowing down a little, but they’re still coming. So, if you need to disappear to collect your thoughts for a while, Intrepid Travel is still willing to help. The company has extended its 15 percent discount for recent layoff victims, which are good on more than 400 Intrepid adventures in more than 90 countries. The catch? You need to book by the last day of 2009.

To take advantage of the “Laid Off Take Off” deal, all you need to do is show proof that you were laid off since 2008, and you’re in. Even without the discount, Intrepid’s trips tend to cost less than $100 a day, including accommodations, land transportation, local guides and some meals. Small groups, public transportation and local restaurant and hotel participants add a bit of authenticity to the experience.

According to Darrell Wade, co-founder of Intrepid Travel, “Our Thailand trips start from $45 a day and many people have told us they can’t live at home for that, so as strange as it sounds, they save money by traveling. We’ve been traveling to the region for 20 years and our trips are jam packed with the kind of experiences that will take people away from the every day and give them time to reassess and work out their next move.”

The “Laid Off Take Off” deal was kicked off last November, and since then, Asia has been the top destination, welcoming more than half of Intrepid’s guests under this program. Africa follows, with a bit over 27 percent of the bookings, and Latin American is next at 13.5 percent. Trips can stretch from eight to 60 days, with an average of 18.

Guilt-free vacation, part II: free your inner workaholic

If you haven’t read the earlier installments in this series, check them out:

Once you’re up to speed, check out the latest round of tips below. Here are even more ways to work yourself to the bone while you are (supposedly) on vacation while minimizing the impact on your family.

1. Bribery
Hopefully, you earn per hour more than your spouse can spend. Hand over the credit cards, and unleash your family on the mall, local shops or spa. Bite the bullet.

2. Encourage relaxation
Suggest that your spouse take a long bath or shower. Emphasize the great smell of the soaps and shampoo. Then, use that time to scratch your workaholic itch. If all goes well, you could buy yourself an hour with your laptop.

3. Bigger is not better
Devices are easier to hide than laptops. If you have an iPhone or Blackberry that’s hooked into your corporate e-mail account, take advantage of it.

3a. Leave the laptop at home
This is easy if you move all your necessary work files to your handheld device. Then, you can make a point that you made the profound sacrifice of not taking your laptop with you.

4. Phone ringers = busted
When the phone rings, you know you’re going to get caught. Vibrate is better, but you still run the risk of being heard. Instead, set your phone to silent and look for missed calls. Then, check your voicemail while you’re in the bathroom.

5. Read your voicemail
Voicemail transcription applications like PhoneFusion, Youmail and Simulscribe solve the problem of having to buy time to disappear and make a call. Reading rather than dialing and listening is much less intrusive.

Good luck out there, and don’t get caught! Do you have any other tips? Leave a comment, and help your fellow workaholics.

Guilt-free vacation, part I: free your inner workaholic

If you haven’t read about how to screw-off and look good while you’re on vacation, check out yesterday’s article. This is what you’re up against. The workaholic invests even vacation time in career success, and to look like that white-collar stud, you need to deliver beyond the appearances of your lazy, poseur coworkers.

But, you will.

When you get to the office, you see opportunities rather than work. You feel high when you pull the proverbial bunny from a hat. You love this shit. You live by it. You need it.

Your family, on the other hand, has no interest in your latest corporate conquest while you’re supposed to be playing water volleyball with them. They get angry because you can’t get away from your Blackberry. They love you, and they want to spend time with you.

So, you need a plan.

The next two days are for you. The Gadling team has come up with some amazing ways to work your ass off while you’re supposed to be relaxing without incurring wrath from spouse or child. As always, leave a comment and share your ideas. There’s got to be some great stuff out there.


1. Use the plane wisely
This one’s obvious but important. While you are en route to your destination, you have a rare chance to get away with working when there are no competing priorities. Use it.

2. Build layovers into your travel plans
This is free work time! Pick up a wireless connection, and plug into a power outlet while the kids find an ancient Pac-Man machine. Bring plenty of quarters with you.

3. Get up early; go to bed late
When nobody else is awake, you aren’t depriving them of your time. Block of an hour or so at the beginning and end of every day. You’ll be able to crank out some great stuff for the office, and nobody in the room with you will care.

4. Piss frequently
When you dash into the bathroom, you have a few minutes to pluck away at your Blackberry. Drink a lot of water to add credibility. The easiest lies to maintain are actually truths.

5. Smoker, non-smoking room
Not only do they smell better, non-smoking rooms give you a chance to step outside for a bit. Bring your laptop. To get the most from this approach, also bring a cigar … a big one.

6. Waiting in line
Need to kill 45 minutes at Disney World? Take a call; work your Blackberry; review a document. There’s nothing else to do anyway. Bonus points: time your arrival at a long line to coincide with a conference call.

7. Set expectations up front
If there are some pressing issues at the office that you just can’t avoid, prepare the family. Let your spouse know that you may have to duck out for a bit. Be as specific as possible (e.g., provide conference call times). Don’t get greedy, though. Keep the calls to a minimum.

8. Look like you’re relaxing
Print documents you’ll need and bring them to the pool or beach. Tuck them in a magazine. Vanity Fair is thick enough that you can “lose” almost anything in it.

9. Forward your e-mail
If you can’t access your corporate e-mail account from the road, have it forwarded to your personal account. Let your colleagues know that they can reach you this way and to expect to hear from you using a different address.

10. Make all day “think time”
Take notes on your projects before you leave. Review them in the morning, and take the entire day to mull them over. You can be productive without looking like you’re working.

If you need more than this, fear not. Tomorrow, we’ll bring a few more tips to you. Before you know it, your family will think you can cut your ties to the office, and none of your coworkers will realize you aren’t at your desk.

Have you seen yesterday’s post yet?