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.

Life Nomadic: Fringe Time

One of my favorite parts of traveling is something that, if you’re like me, you may not even consider until you actually become a nomad. I love the fringe time, the extra hours surrounding normal life which become a lot more interesting when you’re in a foreign city.

An example: a couple days ago I spent the day working at my favorite UK restaurant, Inspiral (amazing veg food). I met a couple fellow nomad friends there for early lunch, and we spent the day working by the window overlooking the canal, waiting to be hungry enough for dinner. In between our two meals there we considered what we ought to do after dinner.

In our home cities, our options would be limited. We would have already done everything really exciting, so second tier activities like watching a movie or going for tea would be the likely options. Boring. But London is relatively unexplored and exciting, so we ended up going to see Les Miserables, one of the greatest musicals of all time.

Not a bad way to end the work day.
We left London way before it gets ordinary and predictable, which I’ll admit would take a while. Now I’m in Marakkesh, home to a whole new set of fringe activities to fill my spare time.

Staying in countries where foreign languages are spoken, as I do for most of my time, brings similar benefits. I may eat the same type of food for dinner, but if I’m in China I’m ordering and chatting with the waiter in Chinese, and thus improving my proficiency in the language. Call it fringe learning.

The benefit of Life Nomadic isn’t so much that it replaces your life, but rather that it upgrades the predictable background of daily existence. I still write and work on my site all day most days, but the days I take off and the time I’m not working becomes a lot more interesting.

Send your friends and loved ones away

Travel is a tough gift to give. You need to know the recipient pretty well to make sure your well-intentioned effort doesn’t turn into a disaster. Could you imagine sending a wealthy friend through budget hotels in Romania? Or, putting a cities-only person on a beach for two weeks? The possibility for disaster is infinite. But, if you put some thought into it, your gift of a trip can be a big hit.

Time magazine realizes that “it’s the thought that counts” is flawed thinking. You need to get it right if you’re going to put a friend or family member on a plane, bus or train. Fortunately, you have choices. Solo jaunts, group get-togethers are and romantic getaways are all great fodder for the gift of travel … as long as you tailor it to the recipient. A certain travel writer (ahem) took his wife to Eze, France for her birthday and proffered a cake covered in gold leaf at the top of that city’s famous Chemin de Nietzsche (“Nietzsche Trail”). Not mentioned in the article is that the walk up tested the marriage. She and I had no idea that we’d really be climbing a mountain.

This brings me to my next point: know what you are doing. Just because something looks interesting, life on the ground may not be as advertised.

Read the original for a few more tips >>

[Via Time magazine]

SkyMall Monday: TimeMug

People are always shocked to learn that I don’t drink coffee. They say, “Mike, you attack the day with the vim and vigor of a boy one-third your age. Certainly, you must caffeinate yourself every morning.” People are also surprised to learn that I rarely wear a watch. They say things like, “But, Mike, you are as prompt as a man with one-third the level of OCD that you possess. Certainly, you must have a precision timepiece.” Well, the fact of the matter is I do not need coffee or watches. I’m high on life and my body clock is more accurate than the U.S. government’s atomic clock. But, for those of you who are without these natural gifts there’s the TimeMug.

The TimeMug finally puts a clock face where you’ve always needed it: on the side of your insulated travel mug. How many times has this happened to you: You’re sipping your cup of coffee, realize you need to know the time, check your watch and spill your coffee all over your trousers? If you said, “at least seven times,” then I’m amazed that you have the motor skills to access this website. Regardless, who needs the time and their coffee separated? By combining their powers, there’s literally nothing that can stop you from being on-time and alert.*

But what if you’re a fashionista who needs a TravelMug that matches your couture lifestyle? Well, for you there’s the TimeMug Rhinestone Collection. Wouldn’t it look handsome in your Bentley’s cup holder? Yes, it would.

As always, let’s rely on the official product description to seal the deal:

With two rhinestone timepiece options and so many dazzling colors to choose from, there’s a TimeMug right for everyone.

The good people at TimeMug understand that the only things that matter to consumers are colors and rhinestones. It’s like they can see into our souls. So, put down your Bedazzler and get yourself a TimeMug.

* Any number of things could still prevent you from being on-time and/or alert including, but not limited to, traffic, insomnia, “Irishing up your coffee,” rabies and explosive diarrhea.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Time posts their 25 “must have” high-tech travel gadgets

Time has published a list of 25 “must have” travel gadgets. The list contains some of the usual suspects, like the Apple 3G iPhone, the Amazon Kindle and a Canon digital camera.

Then there are several “gadgets” you wouldn’t immediately think of, like this UV water sanitizing pen or a wine “skin”, which is nothing more than a piece of bubble wrap for carrying wine bottles in your luggage (I find using a sock and a plastic bag to be a cheaper solution).

The list covers everything from an ultra thin notebook (the Apple Macbook Air) to the Kensington battery pack for).iPod and iPhone, (reviewed here on Gadling last week.

All in all, it isn’t a bad list, but it might be a little too rich for some travelers. Some of the items missing from the list (in my opinion), are the Asus Eee PC or a similar $400 ultra portable laptop and a real handheld GPS unit, like one of the many Garmin handheld mapping devices which allow you to navigate while walking through an unknown city, or off the beaten path.

Of course, different travelers will have different needs, so let me ask you; what are you missing from this list? Do you own a “must have” product you’ll never leave home without? Leave a comment, and in the coming weeks I’ll put together a list of the Gadling top 25 high-tech travel gadgets.