My company provided me with 15 vacation – or “personal time off” (PTO) days annually. In the past year, I only used about three of those days. As our company’s work slowed down, I felt uncomfortable taking time off, feeling a little uneasy about returning to find my job had been cut. A vacation is long over due.
As is the natural balance and irony of life, now that I’ve got the time, I no longer have the money. My boyfriend John and I are taking advantage of the time anyway and taking a low-cost vacation. We drove down to LA last night ($25 in gas shared between the two of us) and we’re taking Amtrak from here to Santa Fe, New Mexico ($60 each way, per person). Santa Fe is my hometown and my parents will be very happy to let us eat and play on their dime for a week.
15 days a year, including sick days, just isn’t enough. It doesn’t really compare to the average of six weeks most European professionals are allotted. It hasn’t usually left me refreshed or recharged, so there is a freedom to not having to worry about returning to work right after this break. Of course I’d rather have a job and income to return to, but I’m going to enjoy the freedom anyway, why not?
A note about PTO. For those of you worried about losing your jobs. Remember, your PTO can be redeemed as cash when you’re let go. I certainly needed a break, but I’m very happy to have that cash now. The downside to cashing in your PTO is that you get taxed on that income, where you wouldn’t if you took the time off.