How to get the most days off with your vacation time in 2024

by Сашка

Viral PTO ‘hacks’ won’t work for everyone, but they can be helpful in mapping your vacation time

Americans are terrible at using their vacation time. About half of U.S. workers who get paid time off (PTO) don’t use it up each year, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey.

And yet, as a new year begins, posts about “maxing out” PTO have been making the rounds on social media.

The posts encourage workers to schedule their time-off requests strategically, choosing dates around federal holidays and weekends.

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With limited PTO, always use it wiselh to get the most out of your days. By using 21 days, uou can get 56 days off! #traveltiktok #travelmath #pto #outofoffice #accessibletravel #traveltips #wheretovisit

♬ Coastline – Hollow Coves

For example, the first opportunity of the year to try the “hack” is this week: If you used PTO from Tuesday through Friday, it would take advantage of the weekends before and after, plus New Year’s Day, turning your four days of vacation into a nine-day break.

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How to get the most days off with your vacation time in 2024

How to get the most days off with your vacation time in 2024

How to get the most days off with your vacation time in 2024

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Here’s one popular iteration posted by X user Connor Gross (with one correction; Dec. 26 was not included in the original):

  • Jan. 2-5 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Jan. 16-19 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Feb. 20-23 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • May 28-31 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • June 20-21 = two vacation days becomes 5 days off.
  • July 1-3 and 5 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Sept. 3-6 =four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Nov. 12-15 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Nov. 25-27 and 29 = four vacation days becomes 9 days off.
  • Dec. 23-24, 26-27, 30-31 = six vacation days becomes 12 days off.

To take advantage of all of them, you’d have to have a job that offers 40 vacation days and observes those federal holidays. (As one commenter noted, “My 17 days of PTO could never.”) Plus, taking them all may lead to “maxing out how much your coworkers hate you.”

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There are other versions of the list for those with less vacation time. TikTok user John Liang posted one that promises to extend 15 days of PTO into more than 50 days off.

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But commenters in health care, hospitality and retail noted that their jobs require working holidays. Parents said they end up using PTO when their kids get sick. Many mentioned that it’s not applicable to people who work weekends, and others said their companies won’t offer holiday pay to employees who take a day off before or after a holiday.

Another drawback: Flights, hotels and cruises are often more expensive around holidays, when demand is high.

@johnsfinancetips

Here is how you can get over 50+ days off in 2024, using just 15 PTO days. #johnsfinancetips #lifehack #pto #vacation

♬ original sound – John Liang

The concept isn’t new, says Tracey Diamond, a former director of human resources and employment litigator who now is a partner at the law firm Troutman Pepper.

“Traditionally, people try to plan their PTO around holidays to try to garner a longer weekend,” she said.

Most of the federal holidays featured on the lists happen around the same time every year, so the lists shouldn’t come as a big surprise. “Memorial Day, Labor Day, Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Day: They all fall on Mondays,” Diamond added.

And before the latest spate of viral posts and TikToks, websites such as the Holidays Optimizer helped workers do similar math.

No matter where you get your inspiration, Kraig Kleeman, CEO and founder of the New Workforce, vouches for being forward thinking with your vacation time; it can help you get more quality rest periods throughout the year and feel more balanced and refreshed as a result.

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The earlier you put in your requests, the better, but before you hit send or start booking vacations, Kleeman says it’s crucial to stay in sync with your workplace’s time-off policies.

Mark Fahleson, an employment and labor law attorney at Rembolt Ludtke LLP, agreed.

“You may be in a state or have an employer that doesn’t give the employee a lot of latitude to when they get to schedule their time off,” Fahleson said.

Go over your employee handbook or union contract, or give the human resources department a call to discuss your benefits. You may have to factor in your colleagues’ requests, face seasonal restraints or not be able to request the days off until you’ve accrued the vacation time.

Whether you go for max results or just figure out a few long weekends, take your time off. You earned it.

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