The Limiting Reagent on Travel: Vacation Days

With my June trip, I’ve used up all of the vacation days that I’ve managed to accrue in my working life thus far. That means that I took a whopping 19 days of vacation between January and June.

I was starting to worry that my travel spending was getting out of hand:

  • Trip #1 (January): $2,100
  • Trip #2 (February): $900
  • Trip #3 (March): $700
  • Trip #4 (June): $2,100
  • Total: $5,800

Yes, I have spent a total of $5,800 on travel so far in 2012. That number boggles my mind now that I’ve added it up. This ignores the occasional weekend trip to nearby cities where I stay with friends and just count gas and food in their normal categories.

If you take $5,800 and divide it by the number of vacation days I’ve taken for the trips (19), you get a cost of $305 per day, which is less than my daily salary.

Since I’ve now hit the limit of my vacation days, my travel spending is going to come to a halt for a few months while I accrue more vacation days. I don’t know what I’m going to use the remainder of my vacation days for this year, but I’m definitely looking forward to staying at home or at least near it for the rest of the summer :)

And if I have any interest in going to Japan in 2013 to visit a friend, I should start saving my vacation days now!

At my company, you accrue vacation monthly and it rolls over up to a certain maximum, irregardless of calendar year boundaries. Some of my coworkers regularly hit that maximum and stop accruing vacation time, but I have no idea how they do that when I never have enough vacation time!

Readers, have you run into the problem of not having enough vacation days?


21 thoughts on “The Limiting Reagent on Travel: Vacation Days

  1. Can you ever have enough vacation days? Actually I’ve had a couple of jobs where it was understood that you would never really use your vacation days and instead just work all the time. Horrible culture. This year I used all my vacation days for maternity leave. But our fiscal year is up on June 30 so I’ll have more again shortly.

    If you’ve never been to Japan you should definitely go. Especially if you know someone there and can stay with them. Japan is always expensive but right now the exchange rate is particularly bad.

    • That’s a horrible culture and I would never want to work at those companies!

      Yeah, I think I’m going to start preparing for taking a big trip to Japan next year. I have yet to go to Asia, so I’m sure that would be an awesome experience.

  2. Our limiting reagent is that we FEEL we shouldn’t spend too much time away from work. Unfortunately graduate schools have very nebulous days-off policies and it just comes down to how nice your PI is. I have heard of some PIs expecting 6.5 12-hr days per week and next to zero days away. My PI is nicer and always says “sure, I trust you” when I tell him I’m going to be away, but I try to make that a rare occurrence. My institution recently announced an official position on PhD student vacations, which was a minimum of 10 days a year to protect against the situation I mentioned earlier. I suppose the maximum is determined by each PI. International students often take a month off every year or two to go home and take care of their visas and visit family, so in comparison with them I’m not away much. The days we are supposed to be working are just so unknown – do we get federal holidays off? school holidays off? ten days of vacation, more? Saturdays? – because people are there all the time! Sometimes I wish it was better defined, but it cuts both ways – I took a lot of time off in 2010 for our weddings, honeymoon, and miscellaneous wedding planning, so I probably got the better end of the vague-ness that year.

    • We have this same issue at the lab that I work at. My boss expects the PhD students and post-doc to work holidays, weekends, etc. and good luck trying to use accrued vacation time. All the post-docs who leave end up getting paid an extra two or three month after they leave because they hardly use their sick days and vacation days.

    • My manager doesn’t really care about how I report days off, but I feel like I shouldn’t spend too much time away from work…until I do and it is AMAZING. I just wish I had someone to travel with because I get so bored of not having anyone to talk to while I’m traveling.

  3. “Can you ever have enough vacation days? ”


    Though technically I only have to “work” 2 days a week 9 months a year… the reality is that if I want a career I don’t really have any vacation days. Just lots of very flexible time.

    • Someone high up did a presentation to the women’s group at my company and one of her tips was to use ALL of your vacation days. I have most definitely been following that advice and agree with it wholeheartedly.

  4. I don’t really understand people who max out their vacation days either. I try to strategically plan vacations around holidays – I was just trying to convince my husband to spend a week away (paris, barcelona) in thanksgiving. For him, it was about the money. For me, my biggest worry (vacation days) was less of an issue due to the holiday.

    My husband just finished his PhD and basically has unlimited flexibility in his vacation, although in order to be productive, he obviously can’t just be away all of the time.

    I never have enough days. In fact, I’ve taken unpaid leave the past 2 years, though the first year it was due to wedding/honeymoon and last year it was pretty minimal. All of the senior people get WAY more vacation than I do, so it isn’t really frowned upon. I just had to be willing to give up some $.

  5. Where I currently work, I don’t technically have vacation days, just a very flexible schedule. So if I want to take off for a week, I can. Just need to give advanced notice. I’ve never felt limited and always go on whatever vacations I want to, which is usually three or four every year. It’s nice. :)

  6. I absolutely love going on vacations! I’ve realized quickly though how much more things cost when you travel with family. I took two weeks, 10 vacation days, last September to fly to Brazil and spent $6400! In my single days this would have meant 5 separate international trips!

    • I guess that’s why some people stop or reduce traveling when they have kids? That’s insane – I will get 5 trips in at my rate for that cost!

  7. I’ve only been working for a couple of years, but no. At my old job I racked up over a month of leave that got paid out when I left (I was planning a large international trip this year but that got pushed back when I started a new job and started from scratch in terms of holiday time).

    We’re lucky to have mandated four weeks of annual leave – the problem is working in such a small company means it’s hard to actually take that time off, or at least at any other time than over the Christmas break.

    • Four weeks of vacation? That would be awesome! I currently get three. (The 19 days comes from how few vacation days I took in 2011.)

  8. hahaha I was adding it up and from May 2011 until now June 2012, I’ve spent over $10,000 on trips.

    Isn’t that insane? Paris, Nice, Vancouver, Amsterdam (with Brussels, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich & Zurich to follow). It’s such a huge portion of my income.

    I get 3 weeks of vacation at my current job, plus Christmas holidays (about 2 weeks the university is closed) and some other scattered long weekends. It’s pretty awesome. I’m hoping to go on another trip by the end of the year.

    • That is totally insane and seems like so much money to me :/ I spent a lot of money traveling in Europe, though that was quite a few years ago now and I honestly have no idea how much it was.

      I am totally jealous of your vacation time though – I only take a few days off around Christmas since I don’t have to fly to see my family and I get very few long weekends. I do have 3 weeks as well, but I can’t bank overtime like you with the way I’m paid salary.

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