Editorial: Paid time off is there for you to use it!

I included in the weekly a post from Mike, writing for One Mile at a Time, about vacation time in the US. Folks commented on that post, that it was “off topic,” I would argue quite the opposite. Lucky and his team, as well as many of us in the mile and point blogosphere, talk so much about making dreams realities (e.g. aspirational award flights to places like Bali, the Maldives, etc.), that to ignore the harsh realities of limited time off, seems like a mistake. Further to that points, I’ve had numerous conversations over the past few days with folks who either:

  • Don’t get enough time off
  • Don’t feel they can take time off
  • Feel that the world will stop rotating on its axis, if they were to go on vacation.

I can’t fix any of these problems, but, it occurs to me that some of these are very real concerns, and worth taking the time to offer what could be a controversial post. Before I start, I just want to say – I never sit down to write with the intent of offending folks. But to the same point, I think folks appreciate candid opinions. Here’s my offering:

Folks who don’t get enough time off

This I think is a huge issue, especially in the United States. My first full time (read: non-seasonal) job gave me a whopping 5 days of vacation a year. 5 whole days! It rubbed me the wrong way, even back then, and the only reason I had that job, was because I was in grad school. I quickly learned, after I finished my MBA, that you have to negotiate, and before you can negotiate, you have to figure out your priorities. I’ve actually turned jobs down, because I didn’t feel the work/life balance was in line with my goals. I realize that not every one can do this, but I would encourage anyone who can, consider your priorities, and if vacation time is one of them, and the offer is not enough, share, in a non-threatening way, that you were “hoping for a little more.” That is advice that one of my mentors shared with me ages ago, and it has never failed. It goes back to the idea – if you don’t ask, you don’t know.

Folks who don’t feel they can take time off

This kind’ve falls into two types of folks (I think): (1) Folks who the boss doesn’t want to let take off, and (2) Folks who feel they can’t delegate. I can’t help the first, but I can offer, from my experience, at least, that if you really want to, you can find the right talent, and mentor them to the point where you can delegate. You might not be able to do this overnight, but, the key is building trust and communication.

Folks who feel that the world will stop rotating on its axis, if they were to go on vacation

This one is pretty hard. I dare say there is no one that should fall into this position (reference previous point). Even the President of the United States takes a 2 week vacation around Christmas. First: The world will not stop, if it does, send me the bill. If you’ve got a small business, then yes, you need to lay the groundwork to be able to take vacation. I know many small business owners who still make the time to go on vacation. I totally get it, you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into an amazing business, it is hard to break away for a week on the beach, in the woods, or on the ski slopes. But hopefully once you do lay the foundation, you’ll be able to find a balance.


Paid time off is truly key. Vacations are also important, not just because I write about miles and points, but rather, because work/life balance matters. Local to me, Ocean City Maryland talks about a different problem, wasting days off. I’m not sure I’d agree that a day off is “wasted,” but the commercial is pretty funny.

And to finish off – I thought I’d share a photo of Indy (#IndyDog), imitating me, whenever my wife says “hey, wanna fly somewhere?”

Fly? Plane? I'm in!

Fly? Plane? I’m in!



5 thoughts on “Editorial: Paid time off is there for you to use it!

  1. First, it’s your blog so you can write about anything you want. If people think it’s “off topic” they can suck it. Tell them to run off and go click MMS credit cards links instead. I like your originality and find your blog interesting no matter what topic you chose to cover.

    My employer is huge on work/life balance. We have flex hours and work from home days. Some people work from home four days a week. We start with three weeks vacation, three personal days and the opportunity to buy a week of vacation. We also have year round summer hours on Friday.

    One thing I’ve learned about work:
    Graveyards are full of irreplaceable people.

    • I have 3 questions
      1. What do you do
      2. Where is this
      3. Are you hiring
      I’m in the group that has a great job but time off is hard to come by. I get 2 weeks vacation, 1 personal day, and 6 sick days. It isn’t as bad at all as some, but I could use some more vacation time for sure to do all these trips. While I’m at work I get to work a 3-12 with virtually no escape for a work life balance unless I take that time off

  2. Off topic? How much more topical could it be? Unless one is ONLY using cash back cards in the hope of achieving financial freedom at a young age, then one’s ability to actually use the points and miles accrued by MS seems extraordinarily pertinent.

    The US is, in so many ways, a third world country. We claim that we can’t afford national healthcare, all while our own system costs more and has worse measurable outcomes than any other large developed country. We claim that we can’t afford decent maternal child care for all, or meaningful maternity/paternity benefits for all, meanwhile we have terrible maternal child morbidity/mortality outcomes, and new parents are expected to pop right back into highly stressful positions within a few weeks of the birth of their still so very helpless babies.

    And we claim that we can’t afford to mandate decent PTO, EITHER sick time or vacation time. Except for the executive suite, of course, where the residents make 1000% times the incomes (or more) than the lowest paid full time workers in the company.

    For me, the way out was to become self employed. But I’d be the first to tell you that it’s not easy, nor would it even have been possible, were my husband not providing health and dental benefits for the past 11 years. He, of course, works one of those jobs where the price for taking vacation is working 75 hours a week the week before and after leaving, rather than the normal 60.

    Yes, making changes in how one views time off, and the right to use it for oneself is a start. But a necessary next step is to work on our national views on work, on healthcare, on all the things that go into quality of life. It’s already true that this generation of children has a lower life expectancy than their parents and grandparents. All of the wrongheaded beliefs above contribute to that scary and sad prognosis.

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