1. Keep 'planned' vacations in your arsenal
Always have a vacation “planned” when starting a job or transferring to a new location. Always. This is the #1 scam. First get the job (secure the bag), then handle paperwork and just before you’re about to start let your new employer casually know that you have a vacation already planned.
I've successfully done that at all of my part-time jobs and was super surprised when it worked at my first big girl job too! I went through the interview process and while I was in my General Manager's office taking a drug test, I mentioned my upcoming 3-week European vacation.
Now I really wasn't planning on getting this job because I'd just graduated from college and wanted to stay home with my parents for a bit longer. Then life happened and I needed my first full-time gig. The key here is to mention the vacation before your start date.
Shoot for a short trip of one week or less.
2. Swap Days
Trade in days. It’s a way for your company to save money but it means more travel for you. If you typically don’t work weekends, volunteer to come in on a Saturday and take the following Friday off (depends on when your pay period ends). Boom - you got yourself a long weekend without using PTO.⠀
I do this quite often to travel domestically and it works like a charm. It's perfect for exploring new cities within a 2 - 4-hour flight from home. Small weekend trips will add up fast. Instead of using all of your PTO to take 1-2 long trips taking smaller retreats throughout the year will allow you to have a better work-life balance.
3. Stop using PTO for everything
If you’re young, with no kids and minimal responsibilities ( basically no kids) and especially if you live at home, why are you using paid time off for your Aunties birthday bash? Take the hit on hours, try to work overtime to compensate and save your PTO. I even take short trips and don’t use PTO because I’ve already saved money to cover those missed hours.⠀
Trust me. You'll be glad you saved your PTO when a big trip comes around.
4. Take full advantage of paid holidays
There are 10 federal holiday in the U.S. USE THEM. Don't let your holidays go to waste. Especially the ones in the low season for travel like MLK Day and President's Day. These are both in winter when flights to most destinations in the world are typically cheaper. If you work for a cool company (most likely a small company or startup) you might even get your birthday as a holiday or 'flex' holidays. If this is the case, you're one lucky person who should take full advantage of those days to travel.
My favorite way to use paid national holidays is to take off the Thursday and/or Friday before and have a short 4-5 day trip. That's enough time to explore the U.S., Latin America and even Canada.
I don't want to promote going into debt because most of us have enough of that. Hello, school loans! However, when used responsibly credit cards that offer travel rewards have some serious benefits. I just recently got the Chase Sapphire and although I haven't gotten a free trip from it yet, I'm excited about the benefits:
- $300 Annual Travel Credit
- Free Priority Pass Membership (I'll be chilling in all the airport lounges now + I can bring my friends too)
- Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- 3X points for every purchase made on travel, hospitality or dining
- 1X on everything else
- 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months ( The trick for this is to pay for a bill big like rent with the card and then immediately use your cash to pay the credit card bill)
I am excited about my new rewards and the free trips I'm about to get! Check out the benefits here and sign up! While I haven't gotten my freebies just yet, my best friend had a travel credit card through American Airlines and scored us $300 RT flights to Europe last year. SCORE!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. When you sign up - I get a small kickback in rewards points at no extra cost to you.