Maximizing Your PTO: Use it, don’t lose it!
Maximizing your PTO! Everyone has different amounts of days allotted for PTO, and some people have a different combination of PTO days, sick days, holidays, etc. I now have a new job, but for four years I traveled around my PTO. I am going to give you information on how I utilized it to get the most of my days off and fit in the most trips for the year. You can take the tips and adjust them to fit your work and maximize your PTO as best as possible with what you have available!
About my PTO
I was allotted 21 days of paid time off. This includes vacation days, sick days, personal days, etc plus 6 national holidays. Basically, after the holidays, I had about 14 days of paid time off to use as I please. I rarely use sick days, so I typically use all of my days for vacation!
Maximizing your pto for international travel
If you’re looking to mix international travel into your busy work schedule, it will take more PTO days, unfortunately. I typically, in a non-pandemic year, try to take two separate international trips per year. It takes some strategy to have enough PTO days for this! Here are a few tips for only using 6 days of PTO for an international trip:
Time your flight schedule right
- Fly out on Thursday night or Friday morning flight in order to only utilize one PTO day
- Red-eye flights on Thursday can be cheaper and will give you more time on Friday to explore
- Fly back on Sunday
- A Friday through the following Sunday schedule will add an extra weekend to your trip and give you the most days with the least amount of PTO
- This 6 PTO day scheme will give you 8 solid days to explore with 2 days of travel. This is plenty of time to do and see a lot!
If I take two international trips following this rule, I use 12 days of PTO. This leaves 2-3 days for any long weekend trips I may need during the year.
Other tips for maximizing pto
- Take advantage of holiday weekends– The advantage of holiday travel is you get a “free” day of PTO. However, holiday travel can get expensive. So if you take this route, plan ahead! The further you plan ahead, the cheaper accommodations and flights will be. Another way to save money on holiday weekends is to take a trip that is in driving distance and cut the cost of flights out!
- Work half days- Book flights in the afternoon or at night and save at least half a day of PTO. If you return in the morning from a trip, you can always get a few hours in in the afternoon to save some PTO hours!
- Work through lunch- This isn’t an option for everyone. But if it is possible, try to come in a little early and work through lunch to leave work early without taking PTO
- Consider non-paid time off- Again, this may not be an option with your boss. But it doesn’t hurt to ask! Use part of your PTO in combination with a few non-paid days. Doing this, you will have a much easier time having enough days on your vacation. However, save up and be prepared for a smaller paycheck for the week!
Have a plan
If you have a strict schedule for your PTO, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Everything doesn’t have to be planned ahead, but choose when you would like to take your trips for the year and set your PTO dates. You can choose where you go and what you want to do a little later!
Click here for some inspiration on destinations!
A little encouragement
I hate to see people not utilize their PTO. I respect hard work and dedication to a job. However, I believe everyone needs time away from work, even if you aren’t taking trips or going anywhere, days off and breaks from work are good for the soul. So whatever you choose to do or wherever you choose to go, just take some personal days!
Did you know that the US doesn’t require payment for time off? I’m a little astonished. Thankfully, I had the perk of having a boss that was pro-vacation. He had his own sense of adventure and supported me in my efforts to see the world. If you don’t necessarily have this at your job, I encourage you to have a conversation about the importance of time-off from work. I know, this is easier said than done in many situations, especially here in the USA. But be your own advocate!