should I really bother with taking vacation time this year?

A reader writes:

Is it a bad idea not to take all of one’s allotted vacation time? Abe, my one partner (I’m polyamorous), feels strongly that I should use all my time, but I don’t really see the point. I can’t travel, do things, or see family/friends; I’d just stay home and be in the way of Ben, our other partner, who attends a graduate program online. Even if I could visit or host someone, I’d have to quarantine after (probably unpaid) for at least a week. And the cold weather is on the way. We live as a family but have differing schedules so, even without COVID, it would be hard to take our usual vacation together this year.

I get two “use them or lose them” weeks off per year, plus a handful of sick and discretionary days. I don’t work from home. Thanks to COVID, I’ve not taken any significant time and have the entire two weeks left. Unsurprisingly, most of my cohorts are in the same boat. I was thinking of just taking a couple of three-day weekends before the end of the year, but not an entire week or two. Even if I did take that much time off, I’d have to coordinate it with others so that all duties are covered.

Sometimes it feels like more work and stress to take time off – especially just to sit around the house while people email me because they know I’m in town doing nothing. I have a singular role in a small company, meaning I’m the only person who does specific, necessary tasks. Since there’s no way to do these tasks ahead of time, coworkers must absorb my workload while I’m out. Sadly, some things don’t get done, negatively impacting others. It also means that I have lots to prepare before I leave, and I generally return to a certain amount of chaos and damage control. My role is also expanding, so I’m in process of learning new duties and systems, which makes me even less inclined to take time off right now.

Abe works for a large, unionized company, so he can take time off without impacting others or disrupting the flow of business. He says that me not using my time sends a dangerous message to my bosses, suggesting that time off is unnecessary and unimportant. Does it? I have absolutely nothing against vacations, I’d just prefer to use my time off to travel, host guests, or actually do something rather than spend a week or two reading novels, going for walks, and playing with the cats. Honestly, I can do that on weekends. That said, I don’t want to set a bad precedent. Others in my office seem to be giving up their vacation time this year for similar reasons. Time is running out, and I must decide soon. What should I do?

Well, if you give up two weeks of paid vacation time, you’re essentially working for your company for free for those two weeks. And you shouldn’t work for free.

There’s also real benefit to taking time off. It’s good for you to get away from work for a while, to turn off your work brain and just live the rest of your life. It’s good for your employer too, because you’re more likely to come back refreshed and are less likely to burn out. There can even sometimes be benefit to having other people covering your work while you’re gone: sometimes they’ll come up with new or better ways of doing things that you can miss when you’ve been in the job for a while.

And yeah, Abe is right that not using up all your time sends the message that it’s unimportant. I mean, your bosses probably won’t look at those of you not taking vacations this year and think, “Ah, we can get rid of time off entirely!” But it does signal that you don’t value it as much as it otherwise would seem, and that in at least some circumstances you’re willing to work and work and work without substantial breaks. It also means your employer is less likely to plan their staffing accurately — if you’re always there, there’s less pressure to cross-train people and have solid contingency plans (which can then make it feel even harder to take real time off down the road).

If you really don’t want to take a full week or more, then the easiest way to use up your vacation time is with a series of three-day or four-day weekends, which can be weirdly enjoyable even if you use them for no real purpose at all. (But don’t just take a couple of them. Take enough to use up all the time you’ve accrued by the end of the year.) That would also probably minimize the chaos you’re worried about coming back to. But I’d argue you should take at least a full week at a time, if not two weeks, because when you take time off, it often takes a few days to get your brain out of work mode. If you always return to work after just a few days off, you’ll never get that benefit.

If you really don’t want to do any of that, you could try pushing for your company to let vacation time roll over to next year, even if it’s just a 2020-specific exception (but don’t do that if your company doesn’t pay out vacation time when you leave — there’s too much risk of losing it entirely in that case) or even see if they’d pay it out for people who can’t use it this year (they probably won’t, but some companies will).

But don’t just give it up. It’s your time. You shouldn’t forfeit it any more than you’d let your employer keep some of your salary.

{ 242 comments… read them below }

  1. glitter writter*

    Please take your vacation time. Please. Even though you can’t go anywhere. (I have two weeks back after having had to cancel two trips, one in April and one in June.) Burnout is real and a few days off, even if you just swiffer the floor and read a trashy novel, will be good for you AND for your productivity.

    (Everyone at my company is desperately trying to get use-it-or-lose-it days on the books before December 31, since our company said in no uncertain terms there will not be any rollover.) December’s going to be a skeleton crew.)

    1. Momma Bear*

      I agree. Take the time, even if it’s just a staycation. I’ve also used more of my leave for random days rather than trying to fit in both an appointment and a work day. I just make it a full day off.

    2. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Seconded. I’ve almost never used my vacation time in the past to go anywhere, even before the pandemic. I basically would use it to stay at home and catch up on TV shows or video games because that was honestly all I could afford anyway.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes, I now love staycations! But I know they aren’t for everyone, sometimes an entire day of *nothing* when you “could be being productive” seems really stressful. I used to be like that too.
        So now, I write out an agenda for my day that really helps. Its full of messages imploring myself to enjoy life, and most importantly leaves no time for chores:
        6am: Leave alarm on just so I can experience the joy of shutting it off and going back to sleep.
        8am: Drink coffee on the patio out of one of those travel mugs that keeps it unnecessarily hot, so I’m forced to nurse it for a solid hour.
        9am: Make a ridiculously complex brunch of stuffed french toast and pancetta.
        10am: Exercise, because you know you’ll feel better if you do.
        noon: Make lunch for yourself and your partner(s) as a sort of apology for being off when they aren’t
        ….you get the drift

        I also try to schedule 1 “outing” a day, which helps get me out of the house and detach a bit. I go to a local park and sit on a blanket to read, or go order a fancy coffee from a coffee shop 4+ towns away, or go on a leaf peeping drive, or go for a hike, etc. (Fun fact: you don’t actually need to have a dog to go sit at a dog park and pet dogs).

        1. By the shores of Big Blue*

          I thought I was the only weird person who left their alarm on just so I could giggle while turning it off while on vacation. It’s an oddly satisfying feeling to turn it off and not get up.

          1. Lynn*

            Me too. My husband doesn’t get it-but I love waking up and knowing I can just turn it back off. Sometimes I even go ahead and get up but only go as far as my favorite reading chair without bothering with any of my normal “go to work” morning routine.

            1. Clisby*

              I’m retired now, but when I was working I always set the alarm for a half-hour before I really needed to get up, just so I could hit the snooze button 2-3 times.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            and it is oddly infuriating to be woken by my partner’s alarm when he does that!

      2. Koalafied*

        Yep, pre-pandemic my habit for many years was to take 2 weeks around New Years to travel and be with friends, and 2 weeks in late summer/early fall to stay home. Sometimes my staycations would be more productive and filled with home improvement projects and long-procrastinated errands, other times I’d just watch TV and read for several days straight.

        I get people who prefer taking a vacation to taking a staycation, but have never quite been able to understand those who prefer working to taking a staycation. Just being able to sleep in a couple hours and leave my desk during the day without taking my work phone with me, those two things alone make it worthwhile to me to take the time off.

    3. Artemesia*

      In our area many of the public parks, hiking trails etc are really crowded on weekends — and often with people unmasked — but in the middle of the week they are less crowded. It is a great time to get out of the house and take long walks, or go to nearby national or state parks and enjoy a break. Taking a day a week for a while while the weather is still decent is refreshing — and yeah — when you don’t take your miniscule two weeks, it is not an encouragement for more employee friendly leave policies. They don’t even let you roll it over so you can take a long vacation at some point like a trip to Europe for example.

      1. Loosey Goosey*

        This! Depending on the climate where you’re located, OP, there might be outdoor stuff you can do that is safe (and often low-cost or free). I took a week off this summer and spent most of it reading in my backyard or at the beach. It wasn’t exciting, but it was relaxing and I’m glad I did it.

      2. Sparrow*

        I took off work one day last week and went apple picking! The weekday crowd was very light, so it was definitely worth taking the day off. The orchard was also requiring masks (which people over the age of 4 were surprisingly good about keeping on), and you were outside and mostly 30+ feet away from other people. I felt pretty good about it, and I’ve been very cautious about everything pandemic-related.

        1. JSPA*

          Apple picking and an overnight camping on the neighbor’s rural plot of land a half-hour away were each really good short breaks. The next one will probably be changing out a half-broken chandelier for track lighting, and one will be an unusually leisurely half day of cooking and freezing soups and stews and lasagna, followed by a quick shower, very long walk, and letting the cat sleep on me in a position where i can’t use the laptop.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yeah, honestly, even just taking a Friday morning off to grocery shop when there’s less people in the store can be so…. nice. Definitely worth a “free” vacation day.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Also, hunt for things you might enjoy online. My husband and I took two days off earlier this summer to attend an online gaming convention! So instead of working those days, I was sitting at my home computer socializing and interacting with other people, and playing games.

    5. Bostonian*

      So true. I always find myself browsing Netflix at 10:30 at night, adding things to my queue, lamenting the fact that I don’t have 8 hours straight anywhere in my life to dedicate to watching ALL THE THINGS.

    6. Sloan Kittering*

      Agree, use-it-or-lose-it leave was a deliberate choice the company made, likely to save money, and especially if they only offer two weeks total, you shouldn’t just suck it up and lose your vacation. Honestly, the company should let it roll over at least this one year, and if they’re not going to you need to *let them feel the pain of that.* Maybe it’ll cause them to rethink their policy.

    7. Liz*

      I agree. I got an extra week this year due to how long I’ve been with the company. So I had almost 6 1/2 weeks PTO. I was supposed to take 2 weeks in June for a trip but that was obviously cancelled. so I’ve taken a days here and there, and a week in August. Which was nice; i didn’t really think too much of it, or that I needed it until I took it off. Even though I’m working from home, I’m still working, the same number of hours per day. So not having to worry about logging on, and so on was nice!

      we can carry time over, so as I have about 3 weeks left, I’m planning on taking one more week, in day increments, and carrying over the remaining 2.

    8. pandop*

      We had a reduction in carry over leave sprung on us (against government guidelines as it happens – the Union are pushing back on this) less than 3 months before the end of the holiday year (academic year – I work for a University), and because our team’s peak workflow is before term starts, we were left short-staffed during our busy period as everyone scrambled to take their leave – thanks management!

      Having said that, please do take your leave, we didn’t begrudge our colleagues leave (just management’s unhelpfulness), and it is actually written into our contracts that we must take at least one week of our leave as a consecutive week.

    9. Amaranth*

      I think a large part of the problem might be that LW doesn’t *really* take time off, but ends up answering questions and putting out fires. Its tough to see vacation as rejuvenating when its like more relaxed WFH. LW needs to stop telling people they are sitting around “doing nothing” and go radio silent except for legitimate emergencies – if that isn’t possible, then cross training needs to be on the schedule.

  2. Meg*

    100% take your holiday time. I’ve been working at home for six months and even though travel has been limited, being able to take a break and have no screen time has been really refreshing.

    (I also live in the UK and get 28 days of holiday a year, plus Bank (public) Holidays so two weeks vacation makes me wince. Please take it!)

    1. Locke*

      Wow it only took 2 comments for a Brit to brag about their vacation time. I think that’s a new record.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It gets very tiresome to see these comments about how little vacation time we in the US get compared to people elsewhere. We know. No need to always point it out.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It does get tiring. I don’t read it as bragging, but I’ve asked people in the past to rein it in because it’s not useful or constructive (and usually derails), but there will always be commenters who haven’t seen that request. In any case, I’m closing this thread, which is already derailing, and ask people to move on.

      2. Andra*

        It doesn’t come across as bragging to me. They were stating a fact, and expressing that they find American workers only getting two weeks to be problematic.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          To be fair, I’m an American worker and find the two weeks a year problematic.

          But I’m fortunate enough to have an employer who is more reasonable (5 Weeks PTO a year, and the option to carry one week over to the next year if you don’t use it – meaning 6 weeks available in the best of times). Sure, sick and personal come out of the same pool, and that leaves me dreading when some member of the public finally infects me with COVID-19 in December, and I have no paid time left…

          But employers with good time off exist, even in the US.

        2. Nessun*

          Agreed. What I read was [relevant opinion on OP’s situation] [context for viewpoint on value of vacation time based on personal experience]. There’s nothing bragging there.

          Regardless of how much vacation time you get, wherever you live, Meg’s opinion is relevant and she has a right to say it and provide context without getting piled on by people. Be kind.

  3. staceyizme*

    It seems like you might have put yourself into a double bind, whereby you’re focusing on either “work and lose vacation” or “vacation and lose energy/ be in the way”. It might be worth it to chat with a good friend or even a coach about third options. If you’re blue, it can be even more important to escape the demands of routine. It doesn’t have to be a conventional vacation. You might find a class or workshop, bunk in with someone isolating whose company you enjoy, or figure out a way to unplug that seems less overwhelming. Even if you ultimately decide to keep going at work, taking the time to examine your options fully and work through your range of options consciously may give you more peace in the aftermath of your decision. (And the healthy exercise of your agency can itself be a refreshing reprieve from the daily round of work and mundane home life.)

    1. President Porpoise*

      If you have a big, messy time consuming job that you’ve been putting off, now might be a good time! Suggestions include renovating a bathroom, repainting the house, finishing an attic or basement, restructuring your closets, or revamping your landscaping. Time to tackle big jobs is wonderful!

      1. hayling*

        I added 2 days to an already 3-day weekend, and cleaned/reorganized my dad’s kitchen. So satisfying!

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        I’ve been doing this. My job is similar in that it takes a lot of overtime to get the workload in a good place to go and a lot of cleaning up when I get back, but everyone here is right. Take all the vacation days! It’s part of your pay! I work from home and have been taking several day vacation days to organize stuff around the house and do all the extra yard work I never have time to do. It is so nice to see a personal project done. I stay out of the room where my work setup is, so it really does feel like time off.

    2. Tupac Coachella*

      Great ideas. Maybe there’s a family member or friend in your pod (or who has been tested/being appropriately cautious) that’s also looking to use up some time who you can staycation with so you’re not a distraction for Ben. Or if you have kids in your life that you don’t see as often as you’d like, you could volunteer to hang out with them and give their parents a break. And have you asked Ben if you’d be in the way? You might be more welcome at home than you would expect. A change of routine for a few days could be nice for the whole household.

  4. Sara*

    I work for a company with a generous vacation time policy, but you lose it if you don’t use it. There’s a lot of messaging right now from higher ups about using your PTO to avoid burn out and letting yourself be reset. Weekends are great for that, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes the household chores pile up and there’s meal prep to be done, and suddenly its Sunday night on a harried weekend. I would say take a few random Fridays or Mondays off, maybe just to get stuff done so you can spend the weekend days with your partners fully relaxing. And around the holidays, it could be nice to have a day set aside to just get decorating or gift stuff done or just a few extra days after whatever holidays you celebrate to really decompress from that stress.

    1. Sara*

      I should add, I’m taking my own advice this weekend. Taking Friday and Monday off – planning on reading a whole book (maybe two!) this weekend, make some soft pretzels, take my dog to the dog park, watch a Halloween movie and maybe rearrange my bedroom?

    2. many bells down*

      Yeah we can roll over 2 weeks worth of vacation, but anything over that we lose. Several people are now realizing that it’s October and they have to use up the extra before the end of the year, somehow.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        I’m really grateful this year that my employer’s fiscal year ends June 30th so I’ll still potentially have an issue but not for awhile.

        And that we use the fiscal year and not the calendar year.

    3. Ramblin’ Ma’am*

      Same. I get 5 weeks off plus holidays, but can only roll over a week. I’ve been doing a lot of long weekends and staycations.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      Since I work for a hospital, they raised the cap on carry-over PTO starting in March with the warning that you needed to take it by the start of fall. I’ve worked here for a long time and rarely took any PTO for the first half of my employment (or more), so I tend to have to burn down PTO pretty frequently as I risk hitting the cap often. Back in the end of March and just a couple weeks ago, I donated one day (each time) to our catastrophic leave pool. It’s not ideal but if it’s more of a temporary “I can’t take PTO this week or next” situation rather than a “I don’t really think I should be taking any time off” feeling, it’s an option if your company allows it. (I do have plans to take off a week next month.)

    5. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Four day weekends.

      They are the greatest thing in the world if you don’t have anywhere to go. Take off a Friday & Monday, work on a project (even if the “project” is just reading a book that you wanted to read, going to some store that’s always crowded on the weekend, or catching up on your sleep). The bonus is that you also have 2 straight weeks with only 4 working days instead of 5.

      Really–I find it’s great for re-charging.

    6. Liz*

      I take time off when there isn’t a pandemic, to get stuff done, for that very reason, to spend time with my BF. And sometimes I have a lot to do, and the weekend just isn’t enough, esp. since I tend to procrastinate. I’ll go do my laundry, and run other errands

  5. Tina d.*

    Please use your vacation, my company is in the list of a major buy out; me and my colleagues are unsure of what the new companies policies are regarding vacation so as a precaution we are all being sure to use all of the vacation time allotted to us. A company can change its policy at any given moment with not a ton of notice and I don’t want to be left holding the bag.

  6. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Unless the powers that be decide that you can roll it over to next year, do something that will help you relax! Take an extra day mid-week to binge-watch your favorite TV show or make freezer meals. Go for a long bike ride or a walk in the park. Knit hats for charity. Spend an afternoon picking out next year’s birthday cards for children in your family. WHATEVER!

    1. Coenobita*

      Take an extra day mid-week to binge-watch your favorite TV show or make freezer meals.

      I am a huge proponent of mid-week days off! Long weekends are great, but I think I get more out of taking off random Wednesdays – you get the day off plus two two-day “work weeks”! And somehow it feels like there is less backlog to come back to compared to taking off a Monday or Friday. My suggestion for the OP is to take off every other Wednesday for the rest of the year, in combination with some long weekends.

      I’m taking the day off tomorrow to go hiking with a friend (my first time seeing an out-of-town friend since February!) and I’m so so so so looking forward to it.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        This is what I did with my leftover vacation time! I took off every single Wednesday through the end of the year, so now I am only working two day stretches per week! It feels so wonderful, and I can use the time to run errands when the stores are emptier, hike when the trails are abandoned, work on my side and personal projects and kill off books.

        Yesterday I went for a long bikeride, got groceries, and crashed on the couch. It’s the BEST.

        (I also think it only took up 10 days of vacation time for me, so very doable for OP!)

        1. SarahKay*

          My mum used to work with a bloke who went from full-time to working three days a week, and his chosen days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All his colleagues thought this was strange; after all, wouldn’t you rather have four days off together? His reasoning: after every day of work, I get a day off!
          Now, granted, that might not be ideal for OP but I agree that there’s a real pleasure in taking Wednesday off and just having the two-day stretches to work.

        2. Liz*

          I love mid-week days off! I have one day off in each of the next three weeks, mainly for dr. appts for me and my mom, which is sick time, but the other half will be PTO. i figured I’m off part of the time, so why not take advantage and get other stuff done?

      2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        Totally – having the midweek, less popular days as vacation for me takes any pressure off from having to make them fun/not wasted.

        And could hopefully have for OP a possible way round this feeling of being away from work being a real hassle – generally people tend to pile stuff on at the beginning and end of weeks so perhaps being off in the middle may make things more relaxed for you in a way (without minimising the need for cross training etc).

      3. boop the first*

        Oh yeah! Reminds me of a time a manager reluctantly told me my schedule was alternating days like monday/wednesday/friday/sunday. She called them “picket fence” weeks and apologised because all the other workers hated only having one day off at a time.

        I personally kind of liked it okay because it reduced my workplace exposure into tiny, palatable chunks and it felt like having multiple fridays!

    2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      I love midweek, I work a compressed fortnight where I do 5 days one week, and 4 days the next (with a Wednesday off). My husband who ended up with all his holiday to spend by the end of the year has taken a number of Thursdays off. It tends to be much quieter everywhere to do things you like to do, and both of us find it much less disruptive on work!

  7. AaronK123*

    Please take your time off.

    I’m sort of in the same boat. I ended up working 3 day weeks during August to burn time. However, my company allows us to roll over 40 hours of vacation as well as buy out 40 hours of vacation at the end of the year. Recognizing that a lot of us didn’t take vacation this year, we were extended an additional option this summer of a one time buyout of up to 40 hours. At this rate, I’ll end up rolling over 40 (which I’ve done pretty much for 15 years) as well as buying out 40. That still leaves me with a few days I need to use by the end of the year.

  8. Christine*

    I very much understand where OP is coming from. I just took a week off from work at the end of last month. In years past, vacations have been opportunities for travel, or even just exploring new places in my city. This year, I… did the same thing I do every day, except I didn’t have my work laptop on. I bummed around my condo, played video games, slept in, did a little reading, did a little embroidery, and mostly felt very unsatisfied the whole time. It’s hard to feel like it’s much of a break when there’s no change of scenery and very little change in routine.

    That said, you should still try to find a way to take the time off, even if it is just three-day weekends. If you can do it while the weather’s still nice and if you’re able, you could go for a walk or drive somewhere to go hang out outside away from computers for a while. The time off is part of your compensation, and you don’t want to just leave it untouched. I just wanted to say that I understand the OP’s frustration and lack of enthusiasm towards the idea. Vacation time is important, but it’s also very hard to have a satisfying, truly energizing break right now. Three-day or four-day weekends might be the way to go.

    1. CTT*

      Came here to say exactly this. I LOVE to travel, even just a day trip to somewhere an hour away, so facing the prospect of taking time off but not going anywhere has made it tough to get excited about staycations (I had four trips planned this year too, so that doesn’t help. “Well, I was supposed to be taking two days off to go to a friend’s wedding in Seaside, but I guess I will replace that with staying in my home, where I already spend 90% of my time. How thrilling.”) So I think it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t the ideal way you’d want to spend the time off instead of forcing yourself to have The Best Time Ever At Home.

      OP, if you feel comfortable, could you look into what museums and similar are doing in your area? I took a day off because I knew the local art museum was usually not busy on a Friday morning pre-pandemic and was happy to find that I could safely enjoy it. Maybe look at this as a time to try to do things during the week that you worry might be too crowded during the weekend.

      1. Yorick*

        In my area, the zoos and other outside places have very good COVID plans and are very enjoyable. You could look in to something like that.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        Or even renting a place but staying in state. A friend of mine is taking a long weekend and renting a small cabin a couple hours outside NYC (near one of the ski areas.) This time of year, there isn’t skiing but there’s plenty of hiking and leaf peeping and just not being in the same apartment she’s been in for the past 7 months.

      3. Artemesia*

        Even though you can’t travel (and I hear you, I had to give up a long planned trip to Paris with my granddaughter this spring) you can still do things locally out of the house. Hike in the nearest state park, take walks in city neighborhoods, bike, go stroll on the nearest beach — even rent a place on a lake in a few hours drive on AIRBNB and take an isolated vacation.

        1. Erica*

          Trouble is, everyone has the same Airbnb idea right now, and here in Northern California at least, the most simple Airbnbs in the country are going for $250+ a night. (Doesn’t help that half of our countryside is currently on fire.)

          I’ve run into so many roadblocks and frustrations trying to come up with “creative solutions” for vacation that it feels like more work than work, and letting go of the idea that I have to make it at all interesting or like a real vacation was the most relaxing thing I could do.

    2. MK*

      I love to travel too, this year was the first one since 2016 that I didn’t leave the continent. But I would like to suggest that, if you go into a staycation with the mindset that it’s a waste of time that should have been spent traveling, it’s no wonder you didn’t enjoy it. If you arenot the sort of person who finds puttering around the house relaxing, it might have worked better to plan the time off as if it were a trip. I spent a week in August doing that: I tried indoors activities that I don’t usually do, like baths and videogames and yoga, I tried a different difficult recipe every day for lunch and ordered take out for dinner, I tried gardening in my balcony, etc.

  9. zebra*

    Definitely take your vacation time! If it was going to roll over, I’d say maybe save it, but if you’ll lose it you should absolutely take it.

    Capitalism is kind of a trap. You don’t need to be productive 100% of the time and you don’t need a good reason to use your allotted time off. If your company has made its structure so dependent on one person’s skills, I’d say it’s almost more important that you let them see the impact it makes when you’re out. What if you get hit by a bus someday? There need to be other people at your company who know how to do your work, and if everyone else has to adjust their workloads to cover your duties, well that’s just the way it is.

    You don’t need to go anywhere if you don’t want to, but delete your work email from your phone and sleep in, read some books, watch some tv, do some projects around the house, whatever you want. Everyone deserves a break.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Agreed. I have been using my PTO to tackle projects around the house, read, sleep in, run errands (in a mask), take long walks, bake … yeah, I’ve been working from home so I have a lot of free time in the evenings and weekends, but it’s still nice to not have to look at a laptop screen for an entire day!

      1. Liz*

        That was exactly how I felt; nice not to have to be there, working or checking email etc. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.

    2. Loosey Goosey*

      I was thinking the same thing. The OP feels stressed by the idea of taking time off because she has lots of work responsibilities and an expanding role – but that’s the exact reason she *should* take off. The company needs to be able to accommodate that, and it’s not OP’s job to cover for them by never being out a single day. Plus, this is exactly how burnout happens, which will end up hurting the OP.

  10. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    My company has a “use it or lose it” vacation policy (we have separate sick time and vacation time buckets). They have explicitly said that they will not be making an exception to that policy, specifically because they want to make sure we’re taking time off this year.

    I’ve mostly been taking 4-day weekends. Pick a weekend, take off the following Monday & Tuesday. I spend the weekend doing normal weekend things, go hiking on Monday (I like hiking, and there are a lot of state parks near me), spend Tuesday recovering from Monday. I’m also planning on extending a couple of company holidays in November and December. It’s not how I planned to use my vacation time this year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t benefit from taking the time off.

  11. virago*

    Take at least one full week, because I agree with Allison that it’s impossible to get your brain out of work mode in just a three- or four-day weekend. I learned that this year when I didn’t take any vacation between January and June; I took a sick day for a long weekend to recover from eye surgery just before lockdown, and that was it.

    The feeling of revitalization I experienced from a six-day vacation (Thursday-Tuesday) was indescribable.

    Surely your frantically emailing co-workers can live without you for the duration of a workweek. And if you never take the time off, you’re training them to expect that you’ll always step in and answer their questions.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      Agreed. I just took a week off to use up some of my PTO so I wouldn’t hit the cap and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t do anything fancy, but having a picnic in the park on a Wednesday afternoon instead of running reports was really nice. Coming back, even though I do have the work buildup that always happens in understaffed departments, I am way more calm and relaxed. Depending on where you are, could you maybe do a night or two on your own in a hotel? It can be fun to play tourist in your own town, eating room service and watching cable in a big fancy bed. and if you don’t have a non-housemate staying with you it shouldn’t trigger the quarantine requirement for your job.

      If you do take the time, DO NOT CHECK YOUR WORK EMAIL. Just tell your coworkers you aren’t going to, that you really will be unavailable, including phone calls. Act like you can’t make it work. That really is the most important thing- just really turn off.

  12. Jennifer*

    We rented a house in an isolated area for vacation and ordered in. I know some people may be uncomfortable with that, but if you aren’t, and money isn’t a problem, it could be an option if you don’t want to stay home and be in the way. Tbh, I don’t really think you’d be in the way, but you know you’re home dynamics better than I. I think there may be some creative options to get some R&R at home while not bothering others.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      At the very least, book a room at a hotel in your city for a night or two just to look at something different for a change!

      1. Merci Dee*

        My daughter and I did that a couple of weeks ago. We were supposed to go down to Orange Beach for the weekend, but Hurricane Sally just happened to come knocking on the door that week, so our beach retreat was cancelled. I figured that I’d already taken the Friday off, and was planning to spend money on a hotel and a few meals, anyway . . . . why not book a night at the fancy place downtown in our city? We had a wonderful stay, and some really great meals at the hotel’s in-house restaurant. And, best of all, we only had to drive 10 minutes from home to get to our hotel, not 3+ hours.

        We’re already talking about doing this again, maybe some time during the year-end holidays. Only down side will be that the outdoor pool will be closed then.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        This is very true and I’m sure the hotels will be grateful for your business too.
        If you can afford to do this, it helps them stay afloat because they’re being crushed without business travel.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Same – we’ve done that for two different long weekend getaways and it was really nice to have a change of scenery if only for a few days.

      However, my “big” vacation break was a 5-day weekend at home. I still had to help the kids with adjusting to online school stuff but I didn’t also have to work and that made it feel almost relaxing. I’m taking another day off next week because I’ve started to hit the wall again and I need that to look forward to.

      Our vacation rolls over and accrues up to a really high amount but in normal years I’m always running low. This year I’ve been able to accrue more but it’s not worth the tradeoff. At this point I’m really feeling the effects of not having taken regular time off in the form of long weekends every few months and we just skipped right over the usual week off in the summer. I highly recommend taking regular time off if your PTO allows.

  13. Ali G*

    Abe is right! I get that sometimes it can feel like it’s harder to take time off than to just keep working. Maybe you would use the time off to see if there are better ways of managing your work when you are not there. I mean, if you were sick or something, would people still bother you? What is actually necessary to be done while you are out, versus what can wait until you get back? If it’s jut that it’s always been “everything is important to get done every day” maybe challenge that assumption, and think about what can adequately and not too difficultly be covered while you are out, and what can wait until you are back. Yes that might mean a little more work on your end when you are back, but if you can plan for that, it’s better than worrying about it the entire time, or worse not taking time off.

    1. Ashley*

      Plus you are rewarding your company’s bad planning by setting up this kind of system. You need to be able to go on vacation without the office collapsing and your return completely miserable because of the mess that was left. Use long weekends to experiment on creating a better system for how you can be gone and not have a mess on your return. (And I generally don’t mind covering for a co-worker if they help out while I am gone.) Maybe coordinate it around Ben’s school schedule if he gets done with classes in December or is off on Fridays.

      1. JustaTech*

        Ashley’s right, you need to be able to be gone for a while without everything falling apart. I mean, what if you got sick? Then the office *wouldn’t* be able to just keep calling you. It’s a good wakeup call to really look hard at your duties and see if there are better systems for getting them done.
        Being a single point of failure is exhausting.

    2. boo bot*

      ” Maybe you would use the time off to see if there are better ways of managing your work when you are not there. ”

      I think this is a great thought, and could even be accomplished by taking two weeks off, ignoring all work things, and coming back afterward to sort through the chaos and see what fell apart without your daily intervention and what was fine.

  14. Willow*

    I’m using my vacation time with a combo of three- and four-day weekends (including this one–hurray!) and a week off here and there. The previous two weeks I’ve taken off, I stayed at home and did many things around the house. But I’ve got a week planned for November where I rented a house in the mountains 90 minutes away (and can even bring my cats), just to get away from the house for a bit.

  15. Pickaduck*

    I just want to say that I learn so much in this column, and not always about work matters!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I was kind of curious about polyamorous part or why that was included? But not my business and not really relevant to the vacation advice. At least I don’t think it is, is it?
      If Ben, the one partner, is currently taking graduate classes, likely that’s occupying a lot of their time and energy and they’d probably appreciate having the house to themselves for a few days so they can study. Hopefully, a short getaway isn’t something they’d feel they were being excluded from in this case considering they’re busy with school. It like with any relationship. My husband doesn’t always have the time off or money to go on vacation. So I go myself, or sometimes stay over a day or two longer on a business trip. It’s NBD and all about trust.

      1. BBA*

        I think that a lot of people just tend to socially situate the issue they’re writing in about, especially when the issue at least in part has to do with their home life. In this case, OP has one partner advocating for taking the vacation and another partner who they believe might be burdened by OP taking vacation, and they’re trying to weigh the pros on cons not just for themself as an individual but also how their decision might affect their family, which happens to include two partners. There’s no more reason *not* to mention one’s polyam situation than there is for other OPs to *not* mention a singular spouse or partner.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I guess it goes to suckiness? It sucks when your partner can’t go on vacation with you. But her second person ALSO can’t go. So now she is really not motivated to take the time.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s no different than if she’d referred to her husband’s stance on the issue. She just happens to have two partners instead of one. But it’s the same as if she’d mentioned a single partner, which doesn’t generally raise questions.

      4. Can Man*

        My take was that it was to clarify that “my one partner… my other partner” referred to two separate people who had as much of a stake in the situation as any romantic partner. I think the context is different if you’re talking about a friend, a roommate, or a romantic partner, so it made sense to point out that there were two romantic partners in this case.

  16. BeepBeepGoesTheScooter*

    Take the time off. Especially if your role is expanding – you can’t realistically keep doing everything you’re doing plus more. It might give you a good opportunity to reflect on what stuff might make sense to move to other folks if you’re taking on additional responsibilities. I definitely relate to hating the chaos of coming back and knowing that balls will be dropped, but I’ve been in your shoes before and slowly got burned out and resentful of my coworkers, and that’s not a good space to be in.

  17. Forrest*

    I was told all the good reasons you *should* take vacation, “even if it just means staying st home watching tv” back in lockdown in March, April and May. I’ve got two kids under six, and for me work was the most relaxing, adult, connected thing I did. Realistically, there is no way I could expect my partner to mind the kids single handedly for a working day whilst I “read a book” or “watched Netflix” or whatever people assume the relaxing thing you can do when you’re on enforces at-horn holiday! Taking it in turns to do some work and some childcare was by far the least stressful way to manage our time. So whilst I get the “you should definitely take time off” vibe, I think applying it across the board regardless of people’s circumstances is a bad thing.

    OP, could have a week or two where you work in the mornings and get all your must-done stuff done, and then take the afternoon off? Or vice versa, sleep in every day for a week and just do four hours a day of the urgent stuff? If taking a “holiday” under lockdown conditions just sounds stressful and boring, using your vacation time to change you’re schedule and take a couple of “lighter” weeks might be a way to go.

    1. mdv*

      I second this method of using up vacation time, working shortened days. I actually did that for almost 2 months straight in April/May, but normally use the idea during the holidays, so I have a bit more time at home during the day. In practice, this has been working 8-2, using 10 hours of vacation per week. since I keep accruing it, that means I only “use up” 12 hours for every 20 I take.

  18. Turquoisecow*

    What I used to do occasionally was to take Wednesdays off rather than long weekends. It broke up the week into smaller stretches, was unlikely to conflict with too many other people taking time off (unless they had the whole week), and often allowed me to get useful errands done. My first full time job I only got 2 weeks – 10 days – vacation, so taking 2 weeks off at a stretch would leave me with no other time off for the year. I would usually take off one full week for a real vacation where I went somewhere, and the rest would be scattered around as a day or two here or there, and I’d use them to catch up on housework or do errands that weren’t possible or were more difficult on the weekends.

    OP, you don’t have to take your vacation in a week increment, and you might find a random day off to be helpful to recharge, even if all you do is sit home and read or watch a movie or vacuum the house.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, I’ve previously taken Wednesdays off to burn up PTO and it is transformative. You don’t miss much, but you’re always rolling off a day off or about to take one.

      If LW has a lot to burn, they could consider Tuesdays and Thursdays off for a month (again, always “back tomorrow” if missed). Alternatively, could you reduce your hours and do half days for a few weeks?

      I sympathise. I have over a week and a half to try to dump before the end of the year (holiday period already covered). I’m shortening days to achieve it.

      1. Merci Dee*

        This is a good plan.

        Due to receiving an extra week of Covid closure vacation, having two weeks of furlough, and one week of bereavement leave for my mom’s funeral back in August, I’ve had an extra month of time off this year that I didn’t have to use my regular vacation for. We can get paid out at the end of the year for a certain number of days, but I’m looking for ways to take some time to get down to the limit for the number of days I can be paid for. Sprinkling in a few random Wednesdays just might do the trick.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, I came here to recommend taking Wednesdays off. Also, if things are so bad that people are seriously considering whether to donate free time to their employer by not taking the vacation they’re entitled to and losing it, the workplace is dysfunctional. Not necessarily toxic, but certainly not healthy.

      I’m not going to start with our long European vacations, but there’s certainly one difference, we aren’t allowed to take half-days as vacation, although it’s possible and even recommended to use banked working hours for that purpose. I currently have enough working hours banked to take 4 days off just using them up…

  19. LaFramboise*

    Please use your vacation time to do something you want, and don’t answer emails. Cold weather is also coming to my area, and I’m taking off time for holiday stuff, even though the holiday stuff is minimal and won’t be with everyone. Maybe you could take off a day in the middle of the week and go somewhere non crowded? I’ve been doing that, and it really does feel refreshing to step away from the action, and ignore emails, and gives me renewed energy for the end of the week so that I don’t burn out.

  20. blink14*

    I would take the week off and then the remainder make into long weekends. I actually think it would be potentially be more stressful to find coverage for an extended series of long weekends vs. a full week at once and then up to 5 long weekends on top of that.

    If you have the funds and are interested, you could take a very socially isolated trip within your own state, you could do a series of day trips with very minimal stops around people, etc. You can still do things, you just have to be very cautious and plan it out.

  21. KHB*

    If it feels too weird to take days off to sit at home and do nothing (and I’m with you on that), can you take half days off? Or quarter days? This is what I’m trying to do – fit in as many 3:00 PM dismissals as I can, and just use the time to go for a walk while it’s still sunny out or run errands when the stores are a little less crowded. There’s no way I’ll use up all my PTO at this rate, but at least I’ll use some.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve done a couple weeks worth of half days this year, aye – for me, it’s enough to stay on top of regular work without too much catching up afters, but I’m a morning bird and working from home means my “half day” is done by 10:30am and I still have the rest of the day to whatever. I’m also normally not a fan of taking time off and not actually going anywhere, it usually feels like a super waste to me, but for whatever reason the half days didn’t hit that button. (They were originally scheduled as traveling vacations but I didn’t want to do the full days just to sit at home, so I converted them to half days.)

  22. Annony*

    I kind of disagree with Alison on this one. If you genuinely don’t want to use up all your time off because you would be at home and bored, I don’t think you should force yourself to. Don’t leave it all unused, but don’t tie yourself in knots trying to take all 2 weeks if the end result is it just stresses you out.

    I do think you can try to get creative with your time off though. Can you coordinate your time off with your partners so that at least one of them is off at the same time as you? You can get some extra quality time with them and maybe plan a bit of a staycation where you do things you enjoy but don’t usually do (home spa day, cooking a fancy meal, binge watching the entire Star Wars series, building a cat gymnasium out of boxes, etc). Or you can make a list of all the things that you want to get done around the house that you keep pushing off and intersperse productivity with reading that novel. You can also use a couple of those days as “gifts” to your partners to help them out such as taking a day off when Ben has finals or a big project due to make sure he can simply focus.

    And tell your coworkers that you will not be checking email when you are out. If that is something that you can’t do, have an out of office message and don’t respond to anything that is not an actual emergency. As far as they are concerned, you are in town but busy.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had a lot more vacation time than my husband. I also had a toxic workplace. If I took a week off the return week would be h3ll. So I could spend the week alone and think about what the upcoming week would be like. Not Fun.

      OP, maybe what you can do with your week off is search for a nicer workplace. I know first hand vacations at some places come with a heavy, heavy price.

  23. 12334*

    I had to do the same thing, and while I thought at first that I would be unable to unplug from work and just be bored because there’s nothing else to do, by day 3, I was fully in brain-vacation mode. The first day, I kept hopping back on the computer to check my email – I figured, well, I’m here, I might as well address some stuff, and if I’m not tied to the computer all day, it’s still at least a semi-vacation. I did that the first couple of days. After that, I surprised myself and really did manage to disconnect from work as if I was on a real vacation and truly unable to get to my email. I watched a bunch of mindless TV, read some books, and almost burned down the kitchen trying to make caramel. I realize my experience won’t necessarily be yours, but even if you think you’re the type of person who couldn’t disconnect from work and enjoy a “staycation,” you might surprise yourself!

  24. LaDidDa*

    Take your time off. 1. you need it. 2. the company has to front and hold that money, so when people aren’t taking vacation it can impact their financials, which can potentially lead to issues down the road. My husband’s company is making people take PTO around Thanksgiving and Christmas to force the issue.
    I was on vacation this last week and I did things I enjoyed, most of it alone. I baked, cleaned, organized a storage room, and went to several museums. I also find when I am not on my computer 8-12 hours a day I spend less time on social media and the news sites, which helps with my stress and general unhappiness about the state of the world.
    Enjoy some time off!

  25. Bookworm*

    Same boat. My company is rolling over 2 (vs. 1 week) this year but I also have tons of vacation time. We’ve been encouraged to use it all up because there’s no point and you don’t get brownie points really for not taking them.

    It’s up to you, but don’t underestimate having a 3 day weekend or random days where you do nothing. Sure, you can’t go anywhere or take a “real” vacation, but the ability to do nothing can be really great right now.

    Again, up to you but I would recommend you go ahead and take it.

  26. Hiya*

    I know several people who have rented cabins in the woods to get away from home and get into nature. It’s a way to get away and still socially distance.

    1. Pretzelgirl*

      Yes, we have done this, as have my parents. We are planning it for thanksgiving as well. We normally have 50+ plus family gathering and that is def not happening this year.

  27. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I understand where the writer is coming from, & I fully agree with Allison.

    Two things: time off during the pandemic — yeah, it doesn’t seem as fun / interesting / exciting as during the Before Times. This is true! Let yourself grieve that loss. It’s legit. But time not-working is still valuable for all the reasons pointed out.

    That the office won’t get along without you while you’re gone or it’s such a hassle to set things up so you *can* take PTO. That’s a sign of bigger problems then (& hey, what if there wasn’t a pandemic? would you try to take PTO then & go thru the “hassle”?). Your company needs cross-training, documentation, & systems to cover for folks when they’re out. It could be PTO but it could also be a medical issue or some unexpected emergency. Totally worth figuring that out asap.

    Take your PTO. You’ve earned it, just like you earn your salary & any benefits.

  28. I Could Be Anybody*

    Yes to everyone! Please take the vacation! At my workplace we are all struggling to use the vacation we have. I work in unemployment and we are all struggling to use our vacation because many of us canceled vacation time because there was no where to go and because we all feel like we should be working, with the workload being so heavy and being so far behind. Now we are in mandatory overtime (many of us were doing OT anyway, but mandatory feels different and draining!), and unless you had prior approved vacation during this 4 weeks (probably to be extended), you can’t take any time. And it’s October. So we’ve got people trying to figure out when they can take time off in Nov/Dec, but if too many people have asked off, then no more will be approved. The one tarnished silver lining is that you MIGHT be able to roll over more PTO than usual (usually only 40 hours can be rolled over), but you have to basically fill out a form and your supervisor has to approve that, and then it’ll go up the chain for further approval and may not be approved after all, in which case you’d lose it. So that’s cool. I’m “lucky” in that I’m newish, without too much PTO to begin with, I used a week in July, and have another week approved in November, so I should be okay even if I can’t use anything else.
    Sorry, apparently I needed to vent! Anyway, point being, please take your vacation, for all the reasons Alison and the other commenters mention!

  29. TiredMama*

    You are in a great position to spread your time off out. I did that at a busier job. A morning or afternoon off here or there, a Monday or Friday off, etc. It was really nice to take a day to go hiking or just get crap done around the house. Take it!

  30. Aquawoman*

    Team Abe! I have been encouraging my team to take their vacation time and encouraging (cough::nagging::cough) my husband to do one also. My husband also works for a small shop where he is responsible for all the things and falls into the “can’t vacation” mindset. But really, that is a management problem–it’s their responsibility to make sure people can get the breaks they need. If there is fallout from someone being gone, that’s not the vacationing person’s monkey unless they own stock.

  31. Lynn*

    I ran into this at the end of fiscal (for my company, August 31). Suddenly in late June I realized that I hadn’t really taken very much of my PTO and I needed to use the rest of my allotment or I would lose it.

    Our projects don’t get handed off to others when we are out, so it often feels like returning from a vacation is its own punishment. But, IMO, not taking vacation does send a message to bosses that time off isn’t that important. I ended up taking off the last weeks of June, July and August-and had a few 3 day weekends in there. My boss was in the same boat, and ended up working 3 day weeks for the last 3 months of the year to use his up.

    I would, in your shoes, do my best to work around Ben’s grad school schedule, but would definitely not be donating my vacation time to my company.

  32. That Girl From Quinn's House*

    “I get two “use them or lose them” weeks off per year, plus a handful of sick and discretionary days. I don’t work from home”

    You should probably hold onto them in case you get sick, honestly. A handful of sick days won’t cover you for a 14-day quarantine or “is this a cold or COVID, I have to wait for test results to find out” for the third time in two months.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I can’t disagree, especially if your employer doesn’t have to give the free paid time off (small business) or to cover the two unpaid weeks.

  33. Jessica will remember in November*

    If you don’t fancy a long weekend, take a bunch of Wednesdays off. (Or Tuesdays if you want to have more work time after than before, for catch-up purposes.) From the work point of view, people only can’t get your help for one single day, and you’ll be right back the next day, which hopefully shouldn’t unleash a tide of calamity. And for you, it’s very pleasant having a mini-weekend interlude in the middle of the week, and always getting to feel like the workweek is only two days long. With one day off you hopefully won’t have enough time to get on WFH partner’s nerves, or get bored, or reproach yourself for not Accomplishing Big Projects. Go for a walk, read a book, sleep in, phone a friend, do whatever it is that YOU enjoy. Try it, you might like it. (Also, if your coworkers all start doing the same thing they’ll probably be hitting Fridays and Mondays, so zigging when they zag is better for coverage.)

  34. Asenath*

    Take the time – and REALLY take it, don’t answer work emails from home while on vacation. Using it up in a series of long weekends is a good alternative to taking a block of time off, if you don’t want to do that and also don’t want to come back to a pile of catch-up. I did that at one period – and it was surprising to realize how the things I was the only one who would do either got done or were held for me. And I got really used really quickly to having unstructured days at home when I wanted, or doing a little outing then. I feel very strongly that everyone needs a break, even (or sometimes especially) if it doesn’t involve travel, and that’s time you’re owed! Long ago, I once nearly lost a sizeable chunk of time off when I left a job and suddenly no one remembered that I was supposed to get time off in lieu over overtime for all those days of extra work I put in. I became convinced then that time off was part of my compensation; it was something I was owed, and I wasn’t ever going to give it up any more than I was going to hand back part of my salary.

  35. GigglyPuff*

    Take your vacation time!

    If you feel like you’ll get in the way, you can still travel. It’s not like you have to visit people. I live alone with my dog but still go on weekend vacations by myself. It’s useful, it helps! Seriously go be alone for a few days, recharge. Find something you can do by yourself that helps you recharge. I live in a fairly large state, so it’s easy to get away from people, motel on the beach, tiny cabin in the woods. Go be free, use your perk. It’s just different this year. Do something different.

  36. Pretzelgirl*

    There are many things you can do for vacation, without seeing family/friends, or travelling. Sometimes taking a week off at home can more relaxing than traveling.

    1. Socially distant site see around your city or nearby cities. Do you have outdoor monuments (etc) you can visit? Other outdoor type things to go see? Maybe there is a city within driving distance for a day trip.

    2. hike, bike, camping (if its your thing), kayaking, boating other outdoor activities.

    3. Any house projects, DIY projects, and the like you could do?

    4. Can your partners take time off during this time? Or some of the time? Do activities together, binge marathon, order your fav take out etc.

    5. Rent a cabin in the woods or at the beach. This can be done in a safe matter. pack your own food/ grocery shop. Hike or sit on the beach only etc.

    1. Pinkie Pie Works Hard*

      I really second suggestion 5. This summer I knew I wanted to do some form of vacation for my birthday week and was feeling bummed that there weren’t many options. My housemates and I ended up renting a house for the week in a secluded area with some nice amenties (hotub! Score!) and just the small change of scenery even though we didn’t go out or do anything normally touristic things and spending time making more special meals than we normally would and watching the stars at night really left us all rejuvenated and happy. A few people worked remotely and some of us completely took the time off, and we honestly had a great time. It was my best birthday celebration by far for several years, which I totally didn’t expect in a pandemic!

  37. Run Shaker*

    Are there any close vacation spots that advertise as perfect social distance getaway? My SO & I did mini vacations that was around 1 1/2 hours drive. We did a glamping trip & stayed in yurt, climate controlled, & yurt was over 200 yards away from next one. We did visit a couple of wineries but most were for pick up only. One we did a wine tasting but called ahead to find out their “slow” times so we ended up being the only customers doing a wine tasting. Another trip we stayed in a cabin near a river, spaced out from other cabins. Went hiking, kayaking, etc. All while being able to comfortable social distance & avoid crowds. We looked for glamping/cabin that had hot tub, fire pit & grill. Any thing close to you that you can get away & socially distance? I took off Fridays & Mondays to do these trips. I also leave early on some Fridays as well. I have coworkers that can cover some of my work but not all of it so I do come by & am extra busy but worth the time off.

  38. darthita*

    A thing I’ve done in the past when I had use-it-or-lose it days but couldn’t make it a real vacation is take a bunch of Wednesdays off. It was sort of like having a mini-weekend, and since people are more likely to take Mon/Fri off, it almost never coincided with a coworker’s PTO, so I never felt like I would be leaving anyone in the lurch. I think having it be a single day mid-week kind of freed me from feeling like it was a capital-V Vacation.

  39. Daniel*

    Yes, please take your vacation time.

    The only exception would be if you could arrange a payout for unused vacation time at the end of the year–as the column mentions, this is a Thing in some companies. I work for a state agency where you have year-to-year rollover AND payouts for unused vacation, but there is a cap to the amount of vacation you can have at the end of any fiscal year (eight weeks). I was sort of in OP’s boat for my first few years since I didn’t have enough money to travel and didn’t really feel like just taking a week off Just Because, but now that I’m approaching my cap, I’m finding taking a week off, even without traveling, is a great way to deal with burnout *before* it becomes a problem.

    My agency also allows a once-a-year trade of vacation time for reduced health insurance premiums. I’m taking that to maximum extent this year, but I’m still going to take a few Fridays and Mondays off here and there to ensure I am under the cap before the fiscal year ends.

  40. Emma L*

    Something that came up at my company: vacation time is budgeted for at the beginning of the year, so that when you don’t take it it just hangs out as a liability on their balance sheet because you might decide to use it (in your case, until it resets next year, if people can carry over it is even messier). My company asked us to schedule out our vacation allocation for the year so that they can get a clearer projection of our budget through year end, which had the added benefit of making us all take some time to recharge! I don’t have anywhere to go with my spouse currently unemployed don’t want to spend the money to even go stay somewhere local, but it’s been nice to have some days off just to go to the park or take a ride or just stay in bed and read.

  41. Yup, Yup, Nope*

    I actually find that several 3-4 day weekend and the occasional random Wednesday off to be more restful than an entire week-long vacation. I still take at least one full week off each year, but the bulk of my 3-4 weeks vacation is a bunch of Friday/Monday’s in the summer plus some random days like my birthday and some mid-week days here and there during slower times. Just nice to turn off the alarm and have a day to either Netflix and chill by myself (as opposed to with Hubs and pre-teen boy) or get shit done so that I can actually do family stuff on the weekend.

    So find some convenient days and start taking your vacation a nickel and dime at a time.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Just a heads up, I too though Netflix and chill described the wonderful activity of relaxing in front of your favourite show. I was embarrassed to find out that it’s somehow slang for sex.

  42. EngineerMom*

    Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s pretty common for folks to “use up” vacation time towards the end of the year by taking a bunch of 3-day weekends. Taking every Wednesday (if you like to split your week up) or Friday off for a couple of months isn’t as disruptive as taking off a full 2 weeks, and it gives you some breathing room in the midst of a busy holiday season (even if there aren’t a lot of parties, etc., it’s so much more pleasant to do things like Christmas shopping on a week day, or even just regular grocery shopping).

    That said, draw firm boundaries around your time off. You don’t have to physically leave your city/state/country in order to be taking a “real” vacation. Let your coworkers know you won’t be available via email, and resist the urge to check your work email when you’re on a vacation day. This is a boundary you CAN draw, even if you’re the only one who does certain tasks. View it this way – if you suddenly dropped dead tomorrow, your workplace would find a way to cope, as inconvenient as it would be. They can deal without you for a day regularly.

    Also, maybe look into creating some how-to documents folks can use to perform those essential tasks! You should NEVER be the only person in your company who can adequately do a task. See above comment about suddenly dropping dead (this actually happened at a company I worked at – a guy was 2 weeks into a training program to learn how to use an essential piece of equipment that literally only 1 person knew how to use, and his mentor died suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep. The company really struggled for over 6 months while the poor trainee tried to teach himself how to use the machine to they could continue producing product, as it was an essential part of the quality inspection process.)

  43. Veryanon*

    Use your vacation time, especially since it’s use it or lose it. Even if you can’t travel anywhere exotic, maybe you can take day trips in your area (safely of course), or get to that closet you’ve been meaning to reorganize, or even just sit on the couch and veg out for a day or two. It’s good to get away from work and refresh yourself, and this year more than ever we all need to be kind to ourselves and manage our mental health.

  44. AdAgencyChick*

    For all of the reasons Alison listed, it’s good to take PTO — but I totally get why a staycation might seem unappealing if you’re in a small space with someone else who is using that space to work. Can you take long walks? Binge-watch a show in the bedroom with headphones on? Go to a park and read?

    If coworkers email you because they know you’re not doing anything, you don’t have to answer them. You are on PTO! As long as you’ve told people ahead of time when you’re going to be “out,” if they choose to try and get answers from you anyway, that’s on them (and you’d be shocked how resourceful people become when they realize they’re either going to have to wait for you to return or figure out another solution).

    1. Jackalope*

      LW, I don’t know if this applies in your situation, but frequently when I send an email I’m doing it more because it’s convenient for me to send it then and not because I need the response right away. I’ve sent out multiple emails in the last week or two that were not time sensitive and could easily be answered post-vacation. So maybe some of the emails you get when you’re out fall in that category.

  45. Daffy Duck*

    If you don’t want to take all your vacation at once or 3-day weekends what about one afternoon off a week? This does suppose your company lets you take of half days. Do the grocery shopping or any other errands, it is much less stressful when fewer people are around. Or just take a hike around the local park.

  46. Person from the Resume*

    I wanted to say that I feel the LW. It seems that the LW
    – enjoys her job and is not exhausted by it (seems to generally find it as relaxing as hanging out at home all day)
    – has no back up at work so has to do extra work before and after vacation
    – has someone at home doing grad school from home
    – can’t get away anywhere right now. (Let’s be honest lots of people are even if I personally think it’s way to risky to do so. Look at all the tourist visiting my city.)

    I thought the idea to take Wednesdays off was great; use up your PTO and minimize impact at work. Look for things to do while you’re having a stay-cation like museums or walks or hikes so you are doing something special and different that day. Or maybe do a bunch of chores so that on your weekend you’re free to enjoy your partners.

    I do understand because I used to start to wonder about what I would find when I returned to work the day before my return. No one else could perform my duties fully so there was always lots to catch up on. But work would stress me out, and I always enjoyed not thinking about it while I could. I don’t know: I live alone so I’m responsible for all the chores, cooking, household management, but my weekends are never long enough to get it all done. Taking an extra day to do chores frees up my weekend for more relaxing.

  47. CJ*

    I’m curious what Ben’s take is on this – has OP checked with Ben on ways they can take their vacation and not be underfoot while Ben’s working on classes?

  48. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Can you take your time off in increments? Maybe you don’t want to take a whole week off, but you could use two hours every day of a week to sleep in and arrive late.

  49. Aggretsuko*

    Can I ask how come nobody’s addressing the fact that the OP only ends up with a bigger workload to do if s/he is gone on vacation for a week and it only makes the stress level worse? How much of a resting, restorative vacation is it if you only end up more stressed out and overloaded because you put your burden down for a week and it magnified and nobody is doing it for you while you’re? It usually takes me twice as long as I was out to catch up.

    I don’t take vacations to relax, I take them to go do something else or see people. Since those aren’t options these year, and the workload only gets worse, I’m just not doing it except for occasionally taking an hour off here and there. My plan this year is not to take vacation unless I have something else to do and/or but up against the vacation time limit. I have even been told I *have* to work after Christmas this year, no choice about it, and that’s normally the one time of year I can take vacation without the workload getting worse.

    I’ll try to take 3 day weekends once the issue becomes forced upon me, but until then, I still need to keep going. We’re training new staff members these days and maybe by 2021 I’ll be able to be gone at any point and not have 100% of the work all on me then.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I think that’s worth a conversation with the boss! Employees need to be able to take time off – they’ve earned the time, it’s good for their health and wellbeing, and they come back more productive. And what happens if someone gets hit by a bus?! Who is going to do the work if literally no one knows how? There should always be a backup. Even small organizations can figure out cross training for essential tasks.

    2. LilyP*

      Seconding talk to your boss. You need to be able to actually take off and relax. Is the pressure to catch up immediately really coming from your boss and their explicit expectations, or are you putting that on yourself? Can you delegate time-sensitive work and adjust deadlines on the rest? Can you and your boss agree on a ball to drop for now? The solution to unreasonable workload expectations should be “push back on workload planning” and not “avoid taking vacation” or “plan on always working overtime when you get back from vacation”

    3. virago*

      If the only way that you can handle your workload is if you *never* take any time off, this sounds like a recipe for burnout — and incredibly poor planning on the part of your employer. You are a human being, not an automaton. Everybody needs time without work commitments just to remember that they have a self outside of their work.

      Believe me, I am not chastising you. I work for a newspaper, and in a year when way too much news is breaking out, it feels like I’m never off the job.

      If three-day weekends are being forced on you, I’d use them to look for another job. I hope things get better.

  50. DEJ*

    Add me to those crowing to find a way to use it somehow. I was laid off recently from a ‘lifestyle decision’ job and had over 500 hours of vacation time, and although I got a payout, it was only for 400 of it. I’ve vowed to always use every single second of my vacation time moving forward.

  51. Jennie*

    Definitely take some time off. I took last week and a few days of the week before it off for vacation and used the time to get out in nature in remote places where there weren’t people and just hang out/walk, it’s amazing how wonderful that is for mind/body health. I also had binge tv day, spent some time on hobbies & got a few chores that I never seem to have time to do around the house done. I went back to work feeling much better for having taken the break. We all need time away for work, for ourselves and so our coworkers also see vacations as good and important and don’t feel guilty taking their own vacation time because everyone else skipped it this year.

  52. Julianna*

    I am taking a week off next week just to stay at home, read books, work on personal projects and play video games and I am so looking forward to it. I generally like my job, but I have been feeling tired and undermotivated.

    As someone who always feels guilty about taking time off, /please/ take time off. I took a ‘staycation’ last year (pre-Covid) and it was so nice. I honestly kind of preferred it to the “travel” vacation, not that those aren’t great too. I understand not everyone feels the same way, but a week off to just use all of your mental energy for anything you want is kind of amazing.

  53. introverted af*

    I just wanted to chime in in favor of taking long weekends. I took a voluntary reduction in hours over the summer when my work offered it to everyone. I worked 32hrs/week, one less day for about 2.5 months. It was amazing. (We had also had a mandatory reduction in hours before that for 2 months because of COVID, but we could take PTO to get paid at our normal full time amount)

    I never did anything that big, I just did housework and other stuff that needed done. Found a therapist, a GP. Rested some. I said it already, but it was just so good. It is definitely good to take a whole week or longer chunks of time where you can, but I totally agree about not really wanting to take a whole week in these times just to lay around and not go anywhere.

  54. i love cake*

    I totally get where LW is coming from, and there’s been some really great stay-cation suggestions already in the comments. If you’re still on the fence about taking time off, think about it this way: PTO is part of your compensation package, in addition to your salary + other benefits. Don’t let that go to waste.

    This is like if you ordered a $50 set meal and ate everything (appetizer, meal, drinks) but then decided to forgo the delicious chocolate cake at the end because you’re too full. You’re already paying $50 for the whole meal regardless, might as well take the cake home too.

  55. Chocoholic*

    Haven’t read all the comments, but I have a few ideas on things to do, if staying home isn’t what you want to do – One thing might be if there is a destination that is close enough for a day trip, that you could go out and back in one day. That might be an idea. Another idea might be if there is an attraction such as botanic gardens or the zoo or something like that – even a state or national park – that you’ve never been or maybe haven’t been in a long time. Re-discover the place where you live. There might be some good outdoor activities, and during the week, may be less crowded than weekends. Is there a class or activity you enjoy but never have time to do? You could do a virtual knitting or cooking class for example.

    I do agree with the commenters that you should use your time available. It is part of your compensation in addition to your salary and other benefits.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Are we still not in a pandemic? We’re still encouraging people to go places like we’re not all wearing masks and having limited capacity…we’re not all in Florida.

      Our zoo is open but you have to buy tickets ahead of time, with a limited capacity and then you get to go one way, following a coordinator. Yuck. I continue to donate because I love the place but I don’t have any interest in going in when I have to be on a tight schedule of “let me walk you through the exhibits and no dawdling at the sea otters for you, we have another group on your heels!”

  56. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Small companies are a different beast of their own and you can’t listen to those who are invested in these large mega corporation setups about how it’s super easy and super important to take time off.

    I’m like you, I have no backup and it piles up and sits if I’m not here. I can thankfully take a day or two off without much issues so I do that when I feel the need to! I take full days off for a doctor’s appointment for example because it’s no big deal to me or others. But I can’t imagine taking off a full week.

    However everyone else around me takes full weeks and that’s great! Other’s absorb the work and we roll with it. It’s completely acceptable but it doesn’t work for me, personally. Nobody here is at risk of losing their vacation time because I am using mine more sparingly and sometimes losing a day or two if it boils down to it [which it won’t, since we do allow a small amount of roll over, which helps a lot!].

    Do what’s good for you. Treat others who take time off as if they’re not a burden [even if you feel inside they are in a way], you’re fine.

  57. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    Dear OP,
    A good rule of thumb for me is, “if I’m too drained to take a few days off from work, I need a few days off from work.”
    Seriously, if you are thinking that a few days away is too much stress, you have too much stress.
    A few days off banked against or around a weekend will do wonders.

    1. Shortstuff*

      This is so true.

      Two weeks to use up in a little under three months is not too bad a challenge if you put your mind to it. It is sad that we can’t use our free time in the way that we would want to. But on balance, I hold to the view that working for free sets a bad example to your employer about their entitlement to your time, and using your vacation time sets a good example to everyone else that it is there to be used. Even if you don’t *really* need the time off, someone else will and you’ll be doing them a favour by normalising using it up.

  58. SaraV*

    Oh yeesh. I feel this so much, OP, and had thought about writing in myself.

    I’m an essential worker in a seven days a week industry, and we just ended our fiscal year. We have vacation PTO and then we have “flex”, which is accrued every pay period. Flex is your sick leave, or to be used for medical appointments, or it can be used as vacation. Vacation up to a week can roll, flex does not. Do you know how many days of flex I lost? Days, not hours? Eight!

    I’m the same as OP. Basically I’m a department of one and a half. Part of the job, probably the most important part, needs to be done nearly every day. The other person who does my job can easily do the most important part, some of the second most important, but not all of it, and a few other things. The past two times I took vacation (May and August) it felt like it took me two weeks afterwards to not feel like I was behind. And perhaps a big part of that is me getting comfortable in this new role and new location I took this past January. And, I’m at the realitization that I need to find time to type out my daily process/duties just in case something were to happen and someone had to do my duties on the fly.

    This next year, I’m not going to lose time that I’ve earned off.

  59. Sangamo Girl*

    OP is there anything that you’ve wanted to learn how to do but never had the time? Coding? Photography? Underwater basket weaving? It could even be something that relates to your work like mastering a software package you’ve never had time to delve into. Take the time and then take a class. There are tons of of free or low-cost online options like Coursera or Skillshare.

    You will still be occupied but working your brain in a different way. Maybe it could even lead to a skill, interest, or hobby that would give you an incentive to use your time in the future.

  60. hello*

    If you’re worried about bothering others who are working from home, activities like sleeping in, reading, going on long walks, and baking can all be great ways to spend vacation time!

  61. Greyscale*

    My husband is taking a half day every Friday through the end of the year. His vacation is ‘use it or lose it’ as well. Though his company is not approving full weeks off except between Xmas and New Year because then they’d have huge chunks of people out every week.

  62. Ana Gram*

    As my Dad always says, “Don’t leave money on the table.” 2 weeks is 10 days off. You can easily use that up by taking Fridays off for the rest of the year. Or take off Election Day and work at a poll! Do you get time off for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Take an extra day or two. I think it’s important to just have time away to do nothing and to normalize that in a company.

    1. Dasein9*

      I’m doing that. And I took the day after off as well because election day is going to be exhausting!

      The days between Xmas and New Year are a good time to take in most industries. This year, it’s 4 days to give a stretch of 12 days off total if you get Xmas Eve off. That’s almost a week right there.

  63. Applesauced*

    Can you use your vacation for day trips or outdoor activities? Hiking can be done with social distancing, same of picking a different neighborhood in your city and wandering around.

  64. Donkey Hotey*

    Short version: Take the time off, especially if you can’t sell it back and it’s use it or lose it.

    Long version: I was in the exact same boat exactly two weeks ago. I mean, I’m lucky enough to be able to carry it over and I just couldn’t see the point of taking time off during All Of This. Then, I took two days off to celebrate my partner’s birthday. It was life-changing. It was a breath of fresh air. I went on walks and cross-stitched and read and spent time with my partner during her desired birthday celebration of a Red Dwarf marathon (but not all of it. Even true love has its limits.) Definitely would recommend it. I mean, especially if it’s UIOLI.


  65. Ellen N.*

    Wow, I am shocked at Alison and the commenters who think it’s okay for the original poster’s partner, Abe, to push him/her so hard to take vacation. It’s one thing to weigh in, but ultimately the decision belongs to the original poster. I think it’s especially inappropriate for Abe frame following his advice as a responsibility toward other employees.

    Although I’ve always been paid out for unused vacation time so I don’t “lose” it, I’ve been in the original poster’s position of nobody covering me while I’m gone. This meant working twelve to fourteen hour days in the weeks before and after my vacation. It wouldn’t have been worth it to me if I wasn’t traveling.

    As the original poster stated that he/she would be limited to staying at home doing things that he/she does enough of on weekends and trying to stay out Ben’s way I can see why the idea is unappealing to him/her.

    To the posters who have suggested activities, you don’t know the original poster’s situation/limitations. If he/she is in a high risk group it’s possible that it’s too risky to go much of anywhere. If he/she has medical issues that make it difficult to go for long without using a restroom it’s hard to go much of anywhere these days. The original poster stated that if he/she comes into contact with pretty much anyone he/she will have to quarantine without pay.

    As it’s clear that the original poster doesn’t want to take time off, I believe that his/her best bet would be to ask to be paid out for the unused vacation days.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Of course the decision belongs to her, but she’s asking for advice and input, so she’s getting advice and input.

      And yes, my answer assumes she’ll be staying at home, not going anywhere.

      I and others made lots of suggestions for how to take the time off without needing to work 12-hour days for weeks before leaving.

      Asking for a payout is one option but lots of companies won’t do that, and there are strong reasons not to do that anyway (noted in the post)

    2. RunShaker*

      +1000 for Alison & commenters. That’s reason why OP & others submit questions…they want input. I love reading all the great ideas & even if I didn’t submit the question, I’ll be using a few ideas from commenters.

      1. Ellen N.*

        It’s very clear to me that the original poster doesn’t want to take the vacation days. All of the questions are about whether Abe is correct that it sends “the wrong message” to the owners of the company if he/she forfeits his/her vacation days.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she doesn’t want to take them, she can read the input and decide not to take them. It’s up to her, but I don’t know why I would hold back from giving my opinion when asked in the context of writing an advice column.

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      Honestly, the solution to these problems just shouldn’t be working 12-14 hours or foregoing vacation time. It should be adequate cross training.

      Vacation/sick time is a really important part of compensation that benefits both the employee and the employer (who’s employees will be less burned out and therefor more productive).

      And there are lots of other valid reasons to push the issue of cross training with your company as well. My last company was big on “win the lottery” plans (or, less kindly “hit by a bus” plans). There are all kinds of reasons it doesn’t make business sense to be unable to exist without an employee for a day, or a week, or permanently.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        If I felt my job was potentially at risk and I felt like I couldn’t find anything else … I wouldn’t be particularly inclined to push the “others can just as easily do my job” narrative.

        1. BBA*

          Cross-training isn’t pushing a narrative that anyone can easily do your job. It’s just being cross-trained. Presumably if coworkers were cross-trained to cover for you when you’re out, you’d probably likewise be cross-trained to cover for them when they’re out.

    4. Jackalope*

      And the argument about how people’s suggested activities might not work for the OP is kinda not everyone can eat sandwiches mode. There are literally dozens of different suggestions here, many of which can be done at home, and many others (hikes or biking, for example, or just sitting in an empty park and reading) that are outdoors and also low risk if there are no crowds.

  66. StuckWFH*

    I took some time off and went camping about 2.5 hours away. It felt great to just get away for a little bit. Maybe something like that is an option? Do you have any health related appointments you need to take care of? You could always take off for those too, or getting the car serviced, other household stuff.

    But please use your time! You earned it!

  67. TiffIf*

    I am working from home and so was able to do this to use some vacation time:
    I took a week off and went and visited Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. My roommate and I did as much social distancing as we could and wore masks when we couldn’t (hard to social distance at Old Faithful!) and then isolated for two weeks on return. I understand if this isn’t feasible for someone if they are required to be in office but can work if you are WFH.

    As other people have suggested, maybe take a week off and stay in a hotel/rent a cabin so you don’t come in contact with anybody just to have a change of scenery.

    I’ve taken a few three or four day weekends but still have 11 days of PTO that I need to use or I lose them so I am taking 3 days off for Thanksgiving (giving me the entire week off as thursday and friday are holiday pay) and, if nothing comes up before then, I will take the last two weeks of the year off as well (4 days each week and holiday on Christmas and New Year’s Day).

    Originally I was planning on going to Ireland for two weeks in November for my roommate’s birthday and so in the spring I was hoping that still could happen and saved more of my PTO than I otherwise would have.

  68. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    Does your company offer an overtime payment for being called into work on a pre-booked holiday? What would happen if you’d booked a day off but then were called in to work…?

    If so… you can extrapolate the rest!

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      Never heard of being paid overtime or an extra stipend if you had to cancel a day off – from your wording I’m guessing this must be a UK thing, but it’s definitely not a thing here in the US, except for a very few unionized positions.

      1. londonedit*

        I’m in the UK and have never heard of this either. If it turns out you can’t take a booked holiday, that day/those days would just go back into your holiday allowance. In jobs with hourly pay, you’re often paid ‘time and a half’ or ‘double time’ for working on public holidays or working overtime, but not with salaried jobs, and even with an hourly job I’m not sure you’d actually get any extra pay for working on a day you’d originally booked as holiday.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      I’m in Europe and have never heard of this! An employer should make you whole on anything you already paid for in good faith (plane tickets or hotel bookings), but that’s not really applicable to the OP (and a whole lot of other people in these weird time).

  69. Aquawoman*

    Sometimes people are people-pleasers and it’s hard for them to do something beneficial for themselves if it’s going to negatively affect others. Quadruple this if they’re going to hear complaints, even just uncritical acknowledgments of things being more difficult without them. Those folks may respond better to the suggestion of a vacation when it’s pointed out how it will be beneficial to other people in their lives in addition to themselves. It’s the “put on your own airmask” idea. I know this because I’m married to one of them and manage one of them.

  70. Sam Buca*

    I started having conversations with my employee that I needed her to take time off this year after her trip to Poland got cancelled in May. It’s important to take the time you’re allowed. I calculated what she would earn between then and the end of the year (I don’t like it, but we earn x hour per paycheck) so she knew what she needed to use to not lose (we can roll 80 hours) or be stuck being told she couldn’t due to end of year constraints (not that I foresee them, but we need to plan).

  71. Another Lawyer*

    I’ve been burning vacation days on 3 and 4 day weekends and they absolutely make the pandemic so much more bearable. I’m not going anywhere, but it gives me time to just breathe and do my own things while the rest of my house is working.

    I read, take long walks, catch up on laundry, meal prep, binge full seasons of shows without regret, rearrange the house, make sure we are stocked on all essentials, run the robot vacuum, fertilize my plants, cook more elaborate meals, etc. Basically, I do whatever makes me feel really great in the moment and I handle chores that I get too run down handle regularly.

    It is really a delight to just have time by yourself to do whatever you want without the pressures of other people.

  72. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    I think the polyamorous relationship is a bit of a red herring here (although I realise it’s important to OP, of course!) … it could just as well be the same narrative in my case, that I’m taking time off, or need to take time off, or (still have 10 days left in my case) but my (“primary”) monogamous partner doesn’t have the time off available and has to work from home while I am off, involving numerous conference calls so it’s not like we can do anything as a partnership, so I am just kicking around by myself.

    It really just boils down to “is it worth taking time off when my partner(s) isn’t/aren’t also able to be away”.

    What’s the benefit of the time off then actually?

    The benefit is really just to get the liability off the books, from the employer’s perspective. While the person “granted” (see below) the leave, then has the double edged sword of “I ought to be grateful” and “my obligations when I get back and things I have left people to cover”.

    I think there should be an acknowledgement from employers that “granting”, like in such a magnanimous way, time off, isn’t really on a par with granting someone a knighting, or a professional fellowship, or whatever…. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea of time off being ‘granted’.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      And I say this as someone with a chronic physical health condition that could have been resolved with physical therapy 2 years ago, but I felt shamed into not going any more because I’d have to leave work early, so I quit!.

      It will probably manifest in about 15-20 years as a severe condition limiting my mobility but eh, I generated max revenue for my employer bc I didn’t leave at 4.00 but rather 5.00, so yeah.

      1. nonegiven*


        Does the potential to resolve the condition with PT still exist? If so, don’t put it off any longer.

    2. Not A Girl Boss*

      I like this take.

      My husband just had to take a week off (quarantine) while I worked from home. At first I was kind of annoyed he would be in my hair all week. But it ended up being really nice for me – he made lunch and did the dishes and otherwise made it so that once my work day was done, we had extra time to spend together.

    3. another Hero*

      It’s not a red herring, it’s just part of OP’s life and relevant to the context of the question. I hope there exist things the op can do without partners to enjoy time off – I live alone, and that doesn’t mean there’s no point in using my vacation.

    4. Can Man*

      I think it’s relevant because there would have been more of a derail if they hadn’t, because people would have been confused by the “my partner… my other partner” part. Since it’s inaccurate (and erasing) to merely say “friend” or “roommate,” it was prudent to both say “partners” and clarify that it was indeed meant to be both plural and indicating romantic relationships.

  73. Coder von Frankenstein*

    Yup, what Alison said. I haven’t taken much vacation time either this year–it seems kind of pointless–but I certainly do not plan to let any of it expire. I’ll take long weekends as necessary to stay under the cap.

    That said, my employer allows me to roll over a fair number of vacation days, so I’m not at risk of losing everything on January 1st. I plan to keep close to the maximum banked until the pandemic is brought under control, and then next year I’ll enjoy a whole lot of extra time off.

    1. Marie*

      Likewise. My city has also passed a law mandating PTO rollover up to 100 or so hours, which is awesome for employees. My kid is starting daycare in next Spring, come hell or covid because the waitlist is a year long and you lose the spot if you don’t take it. I expect I will use all my PTO from first-year-in-daycare sicknesses even if we do dodge the ‘rona.

  74. anon73*

    Take your vacation. You’re sending a message to your company that they can take advantage of you, which honestly they already are if you can’t take a real vacation without causing chaos or having a pile of work for you when you come back. I had similar thoughts in the spring, thinking “why bother” if I can’t go anywhere. We were supposed to take a week at the beach in August and even though we cancelled the trip we still took off and went on day trips. And I’ve taken some long weekends. And while it sucks that I can’t travel, it was still time that was needed for my sanity even when I’m stuck at home more than usual.

  75. ambivalent*

    Maybe somebody’s already said this, but there are situations where taking vacation really is more tiring than not. Like when work is structured so that if you take time off, you just have to do all that work after you return. If nobody else is can really do your job, I just don’t see how you get around this.

    1. LilyP*

      I don’t want to say that never happens but you really should push back as hard as you can against those expectations. Your employer should make it possible for you to take real time off — cross-train others on key parts of your roll, adjust deadlines or expectations, have your boss cover while you’re out, hire a large enough team that can absorb regular absences. If they’re not doing that they’re both taking advantage of you and setting themselves up for problems when people inevitably have emergencies or leave. Requiring people to work major overtime whenever they take time off is just as ridiculous as giving no paid vacation at all.

    2. virago*

      If nobody else can really do your job, I just don’t see how you get around this.

      Then the company is setting itself up for disaster if you get a debilitating disease or another job or win the lottery (it could happen!) or whatever.

      I know of people who are required to take time off — they either work in a financial institution, or they work in a company’s accounting department. They have to take time off so that other people can take a look at the books and see what’s not there that should be.

  76. LilyP*

    1) Nobody at your company will see it this way, but you’d really be doing them a favor by forcing them to figure out how to operate without you for a week or two. Cross-training, documentation, contingency plans are important for all roles, especially at a growing company. Letting yourself become a single point of failure or a bottleneck for these tasks is not doing your team any favors in the long run.

    2) When you take time off absolutely DO NOT check your work email! A trick from when I was breaking some social media habits if you really struggle with that: change your work email password to a randomly generated strong password, write it down on a slip of paper, and put the paper somewhere accessible but inconvenient. Then log out of your account on all your devices. The password is there for when you get back or if you have an emergency but the extra barrier of having to get it out and type it in short-circuits the “I’m just going to check real quick” impulses.

    3) Commit to not working more than your normal hours before or after your vacation. I know this is hard! Talk to your boss about priorities and delegation and try to push overload up the chain as much as you can — if your team can’t handle one person being out without someone needing to work overtime to make up for it that’s structural understaffing and that’s a real organizational problem. When you get back, prioritize again — either catching up is more important than your normal work and routine stuff gets pushed back a few days or your normal work is more important and it takes you a while to catch up. Don’t let people push you into thinking that the inevitable consequence of taking a week off is working a ton of overtime to catch up, that’s not how functional organizations work.

    4) I think a lot of other comments cover this, but there are a lot of relaxing or interesting or satisfying things you can do safely during quarantine — take a long walk, drive out somewhere with a great view and watch a sunset, make a fancy cake, read, binge-watch a whole anime, call every single one of your aunts, treat yourself to fancy takeout, carve a jack-o-lantern, clean out that closet that’s been annoying you forever. I think if you take the time you’ll fine a good way to fill it.

    1. Sara without an H*

      All of this is good advice, especially point no.3. I wonder if OP is working for a small company that’s now expanding? And management is now overworking their staff rather than planning for how to support the increased flow of business.

  77. Firecat*

    I took a week at home and highly recommend it.

    I had a few foci/goals.
    1. Reduce sleep debt.
    2. Relieve stress.
    3. Accomplish a small thing around the house.

    1. If you are like most American workers you are probably sleep deprived. I took what is called a sleep vacation. I went to bed at the se time each day and slept in with no alrm.

    2. Facials, foot soaks, lavender oils and guided meditation. All of these can be done from home.

    3. I picked one small thing that was bothering me and improved it.

  78. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    The trouble is when it’s just a day or two it’s expected that you’ll check in anyway, as it’s only 15 mins or whatever?

    But then it generates 2-5 hours of work that you just take care of, so that it doesn’t bother other people?

    My last “fully switched of from other people at work” time with no interaction was in 2004 for 4 days. It was great!

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      And actually, I was due to be away for a week but got called back after 4 days. But at the time I didn’t know there was the chance to be called back, so I could actually take my time. Just for 3 days… I had a sense of being at leisure!

      16 years ago! In 2004! And always switched on, consistently, for 16 years! 24/7 waiting to get the call.

      No rest for the wicked.

  79. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP —
    You say your partner, Abe, is pushing you to take the vacation. Maybe you should ask him to expand on that a little. Has he seen some signs that you’re, if not burned out, getting a little crispy around the edges? Friends and family members sometimes notice this before we do ourselves.

    Your description of your role at work troubles me — no well-run operation of any kind should allow an essential function to be the sole responsibility of one person. If you don’t have any written documentation for your job, please start writing some up. Work with your manager to identify someone — or a couple of someones — who can be cross-trained for the most critical tasks you perform.

    You expressed concern about “impacting others and disrupting the flow of business.” You sound very conscientious and responsible. I’m sure your manager relies on you a lot. But I’m afraid we’ll get another letter from you in a couple of years, asking Alison what to do because you’re burned out, exhausted, your workload has tripled, and you’re convinced the company will collapse without you. (Check the archives — you’ll find several letters like that. Don’t be that person!)

    Upstream commenters have posted a lot of good suggestions about long weekends, half-day schedules, Wednesdays off, and how to manage a staycation, so I won’t add to that list. But you should take the vacation, whether all at once or in some combination. Not doing so is just leaving money on the table.

    And what, pray tell, is wrong with two weeks reading novels, taking walks, and playing with the cats??? You have just described my dream vacation!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Work will survive 1 week. If they can’t I’d say something else is seriously wrong.

  80. pcake*

    Taking your vacation means you can de-stress, lower your blood pressure, clear your head. Read some books, take naps or sleep in. Binge watch a show you discover on Amazon or Netflix. Play video games.

    Besides, your vacation is part of your compensation. Maybe you’re used to travelling or water skiing or staying in a fine hotel during vacation time, but if your work has become so routine that you can’t look forward to a week off with anything but dread, that’s a very good reason to take some time off. Your job shouldn’t be your life.

  81. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

    Well, I don’t think it is one size fits all and I don’t think you HAVE to take vacation. 2020, you do you.

    However, I’d like to challenge you to try some of the days. I’m finding 2020 is a great year to try different things because hell, everything is different anyway, what’s one more different thing. I’ve made some great discoveries (including totally rebalancing the importance and focus of work in my life).

    You have the days. There are some great ideas for trying them creatively up stream here, just give it a try. You have literally nothing to lose and maybe something new and cool to gain.

    Best thoughts to you!

  82. Malarkey01*

    Yet another vote for take it off. I was sort of dreading a week off in August thinking it was a complete waste and sort of depressing. My husband urged me to try to get into the spirit and I decided to stay off the Internet (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video we’re okay) for that week, make a few new recipes, and take long mornings in bed. Even then I was thinking this is stupid….but OMG I cannot tell you how I felt halfway through the week. It was AMAZING (honestly the break from the dumpster fire that is 2020 on the internet was probably a huge part of that). I’m taking another week at the end of the month. I think blending all of our time at home has made us not conscious of how much we’re working. A week without it was eye opening and so relaxing.

  83. Free Meerkats*

    I have a singular role in a small company, meaning I’m the only person who does specific, necessary tasks. Since there’s no way to do these tasks ahead of time, coworkers must absorb my workload while I’m out. Sadly, some things don’t get done, negatively impacting others. It also means that I have lots to prepare before I leave, and I generally return to a certain amount of chaos and damage control.

    This may have been covered above, don’t have time to skim the comments; but this alone is reason enough to take the time off and let the chips fall. What would your company do if you got injured and couldn’t work for a period of time? Your company needs some contingency for people being out, sometimes for extended time.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      The company will survive you taking a vacation for 1 week. Even if it has to be broken up into 4 day weekends.
      If they can’t that company has other issues. If you’re the owner, you still need to take some time off and delegate what you can.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. I’m also the only person on my team who does my job. When I take time off, I try to get as much done as I can beforehand (within reason; I’m not going to exhaust myself trying to do things, and a lot of my work happens on its own timeline anyway and can’t be rushed) but there will inevitably be things that I need to brief my colleagues on, and then they handle them while I’m away. This is how it’s worked in every job I’ve had – if someone is on holiday, they’ll ask other people on their team to pick up a couple of tasks if there are things that can’t wait. OK, so maybe things won’t be done exactly the way I’d do them, but at least they’re moving forward. If OP’s company doesn’t have procedures in place to manage people taking time off, that’s the company’s issue, not OP’s. They deserve to take the time off that they’re owed.

  84. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Take the time off. I take every second of vacation, and I’m the only paralegal at my office of three attorneys. I don’t care if work piles up. I leave everything at work when I walk out that door when I go on vacation. There’s so much to be done – like museums, hiking, etc. – that can be done while social distancing. There’s always something to discover in your own backyard, so to speak, that you don’t have to go somewhere else to find something cool.

  85. MissDisplaced*

    You should definitely take some time off!
    Unplugging from work for an extended period of time is a good thing, even if you can’t really go anywhere.

    You say you’d have to quarantine, but is that really true if you travel within your own state or country?
    Look, I understand that options are more limited due to the pandemic, but you should at least try to take a short trip (being responsible of course) closer to home or somewhere you can drive to. Be it a cabin, the beach, an Airbnb someplace nearby, or just someplace else you can go to get away for a bit. It’s autumn, and that can be lovely and less crowded in a lot of places but are still enjoyable. If you can’t do that, still take the week off and just go outside and enjoy nature, walk, sleep, read (or whatever hobby you like to do), and decompress. It will be good for you. Really.

  86. RosenGilMom*

    Yup, take your time off. Preferably on a series of Wednesdays, it makes the work week feel so much shorter. I would look for an online course that interests me and learn something new / get a skill. Crochet !

  87. Dasein9*

    Everyone is different, but here’s something that works for me, in case the idea is a help:
    1. Plan a chore to do in the days off. Something like organizing the closets.
    2. Don’t do it. Relax and indulge in the not-doing of the chore for days and days.

  88. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    When I gained my bucket o’ PTO when I was hired, it was late enough in the year that I ended up burning several days worth but simply scheduling late arrivals or half days for the last 2 weeks of the year.

  89. Eether Eyether*

    I took the week of Labor Day off (my family and close friends are on the opposite coast–I usually go “home” for a visit yearly, but could not bc of travel restrictions, etc.) I thought it would be a waste of “good” vacation days. Turned out it was extremely relaxing, once I got used to it. I really enjoyed myself and realized that I DID need more than a day or two here and there. Take it!!! Cook, go for walks, read a favorite book, sleep in, stay up late! Enjoy!

  90. reality reminder*

    You are still reporting into a workplace during a pandemic. Please, for everyone’s sake, take every opportunity you can to not go to a place where other people will breathe on you.

    I strongly urge you to take as many days as you can off immediately *after* Thanksgiving. People are likely to travel, to gather in larger groups, to hug and eat together – the odds that someone brings an infection back to the workplace after the holiday is too high for my comfort. Since you have it to spare, use your vacation at least the Monday and Tuesday afterwards, ideally the whole week, to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Same holds true for Christmas.

  91. No vacation*

    I don’t know. We have a company wide shut down the week of July 4 and this summer, instead of going somewhere like I usually do, I just sat around the house doing nothing. It was honestly so depressing I was glad to get back to work after, if only to give me an reason to do something. I’m not kidding about it being depressing, I cried every day. I haven’t taken a single vacation day this year and I’m wondering if I should take a day off, but then I remember my depressing week and think again.

    1. allathian*

      I’m not going to armchair diagnose here, but if you can’t figure out what to do with yourself unless you’re at work or traveling, that can’t be healthy. What if you lose your job or hurt yourself so that you can’t work for a while?

      1. No vacation*

        I appreciate your response. Well, I guess everybody has their own level of risk-aversion and comfort with the current situation. I’m high-risk for a fatal reaction to Covid (due to genetics and a congenital heart defect, not lifestyle), so I don’t go out unnecessarily in order to stay alive. In normal circumstances I’m happy taking time off to do fun things around town, but right now I just can’t do anything like that. So taking vacation time during the pandemic means just sitting in my house doing nothing, and that’s no fun.

  92. Amy*

    I’m having the opposite problem. I have lots of PTO to use, nearly 4 weeks worth, that WILL NOT roll over, but our staffing is so low, and being healthcare, we have to maintain a certain level of availability for our patients. This means seemingly every time I ask for time off, it gets denied, or I am told to “shift my hours”. So I might get the specific time I need to be out approved, but I make up those hours elsewhere and don’t actually get to use my PTO. When I asked my grand boss if the company was going to payout or let us roll over time, especially because we were prohibited from using time (except for Covid) the reply was “there are a lot of other companies that did a pay cut, and a lot of people that wish they had a job to take off from” What am I supposed to do?

    1. Burned out*

      I wish I had an answer for you, but I’m a public interest lawyer in a similar boat. My organization offers a generous amount of vacation time but it’s nearly impossible to use. We’ve got too many cases that can’t be handled by anyone else – not just because of how specialized the work is, but because our workloads are so excessive that even if someone wanted to help, they’re too busy drowning in their own work. Taking a week off means putting in 10-20 extra hours the week before and 10-20 extra for the next week or two back. Anytime we raise the workload issue, management just says that because we’re exempt, our official 40-hour work week is “the minimum” and insists they have the right to dump as much work on us as they see fit and we have to do it no matter how many hours it takes. The price of setting boundaries and taking all our vacation would probably be committing malpractice and getting into serious trouble with funders. I’ve mostly come to accept that the vacation benefits are illusory, my employer is evil, and I have to get out. But still, reading these comments was painful.

      In your case, check what your state law says about how to treat accrued leave. Most states are pretty terrible, but some (like California) have protections for workers. My state says the default is that accrued leave is part of compensation, like salary, and employers have to pay you for any you don’t use, BUT employers and employees can agree to other arrangements. And since my employer puts in its handbook that we must use it or lose it (except for a small amount of carryover), and we “agree” to follow the handbook by remaining employed there, I’m out of luck. I hope you’re in a better situation, or that you find a better employer soon!

  93. enjoy vacation*

    I recently took a week of vacation and used it in part to visit some gardens, go hiking, and otherwise get outdoors in ways that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing on the weekend due to the crowds. I’m taking off some time later in the month to do virtual volunteering for a political campaign. Both are great mental breaks from working.

  94. AM*

    My company allows me to roll over vacation (thanks, California!) but my husband gets way less time than I do, so lately I’ve been taking off alternate Fridays to try to burn some up. I pick a new bakery or cafe to try and try to spend some time outdoors. It’s nice to have that time by myself, and somehow very comforting that half of my weeks are only 4 days long now – makes any work stresses feel a lot smaller.

  95. cncx*

    i took two of my use it or lose it days last week and the STRESS of a coworker blowing up my whatsapp for petty work admin was so much i claimed the days back. i may still be angry but i think there’s a benefit to taking off even if you stay home and NOT BEING REACHABLE FOR WORK STUFF. i agree that you have people at home and you would feel like you are in the way, but even if you stay home and read a book and make sure no one from work contacts you, it would be a reset. i really need a reset right now.
    (my boss handled it, i told my coworker to never use whatsapp for stuff that could wait- i work in IT- and my boss took it up with her boss).
    i say take the days and find a way to disconnect and not think about work stuff.

  96. Green great dragon*

    I once had a whole bunch of time in lieu and I used it to take Friday afternoons off for weeks. I used that time to do the laundry/cleaning etc so spouse and I had the weekend free to relax. It was wonderful. Spouse was pretty happy about it too.

  97. Beth Jacobs*

    This is timely. I have 11 days left but only 5 will roll over. Sounds like three 4-day weekends might be the way to go :)

    It’s just that… when you’re working from home, more time at home just isn’t that appealing.

  98. PostalMixup*

    I have enough vacation/floating holidays/personal days to take 1-2 days off per week, plus the entire week of Thanksgiving, plus the last two weeks of December. However, I took maternity leave this year, which was incredibly generous for US standards, especially considering I was only in the job 5 weeks before Baby was born. I would feel horribly guilty taking all my leave. And then there’s the complication of OlderKid returning to in-person school, and possibly having to quarantine at some point. Who can plan anything this year???

  99. That_guy*

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I’ll my voice to those encouraging you to take your vacation time. Moreover, I’d suggest you don’t answer work emails and calls while you take it. It really struck me that you do that normally. The fact that there is no-one else at your job who can do some of your tasks is a red flag; what would happen if you couldn’t do it? Use this as an opportunity to show your employer that cross-training is necessary.

    As for what to do during your vacation, are museums open in your area? If you going during a weekday, it’s much less crowded and enjoyable. Same thing for art galleries. If I’m taking a stay-cation, I like to learn something new. One time I taught myself to knit; another time I gave myself photography challenges; yet another I went on a binge of cooking new and different things. What makes a vacation for me is to break my routine and explore a different part of my personality.

  100. squidarms*

    An idea a friend of mine came up with is a day off themed around a destination you wish you were traveling to. You may not actually be able to jet off to Paris right now, but you can still listen to French music, watch movies set in Paris, and learn to make crepes from Youtube. If Disneyland is more your thing, you could play some of your favorite Disney films and look up a copycat recipe for Dole Whip. You get the idea. The theme helps to narrow things down if you’re suffering from decision fatigue.

  101. B Wayne*

    Take time off! Just doing nothing sounds fine. And leave work phones and laptops OFF. I am guilty of that one, it took years before I learned to shut down. I was never a “vacation guy” and really only used my vacation time (22 days per year) to visit my father twice a year and do home projects the rest of the time but I made sure I burned every minute of vacation time. I was not going to work for free. Bad enough I had the laptop and phone with me, thinking it was fine to answer calls or emails even with out of office messages in place…until I learned to leave them off.

  102. caseykay68*

    Take the time!!! As pointed it out, it is essentially working for free.
    I just came back from a week (plus a day) off and it was great. Do it!

  103. Spicy Tuna*

    I’m not a time off person. I find time away to be more stressful because the work just piles up and it’s hard to get back into the groove upon return.

    At my last job, we could roll over unused vacation time up to the amount you were entitled to. I had been at that job over 10 years, so I had a PTO bank of 8 weeks and would only take time off when I was at risk of no longer accruing vacation time. When I left, I got a nice, fat payout of 2 months salary! Way better than actual time off.

    At other jobs, where we had use it or lose it, I just negotiated to get paid for my unused vacation time, or just wrote it off as a cost of doing business.

    I have also found that in 20 years of working in four different industries and variety of types of corporations (public, private, multinational, medium-sized), taking more than just some of your vacation time is frowned upon. It’s there, but you’re not really “supposed” to use it all.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Exactly how I feel. Time off is stressful. Just cut me a cheque so I can sleep better at night, knowing the splurges are paid, while I continue to keep stress in check by getting my work done right.

  104. Allonge*

    Take time off! One of my colleagues has not taken a single day off since February. He is a good guy but getting insufferable (and on our nerves). Don’t let yourself get to that point. If nothing else, we can use a break from each other at work.

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      I was at my last job for 10 years. In that entire time, my boss took off one week when his dad died. That’s it.

  105. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    I honestly do not understand people who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves for two weeks alone at home. Do they not read? Have they no Netflix/Hulu/etc? Do they not really wish at least one room in their house (if they own) was a different color? Does their closet not need a good going-through? Baffling.

    1. Echo*

      To be honest, I’m totally one of these people. I can only read so many novels and watch so much Netflix before I start to feel lethargic and sluggish, and I’m usually more of a “do it as I go along” type when it comes to projects and tasks around the house rather than putting things off. Aside from things like the holidays where–at least in a typical year–I have celebrations and family obligations keeping me busy, I can really only take about a week off at a time before I’m screaming to get back to work and have some external expectations and deadlines to get me moving. I expect that even when I retire I’ll take on volunteer work or an encore career.

    2. sb51*

      My problem with this is that house-cleaning (of the “declutter the attic” sort, not weekly toilet-cleaning)/decorating is deeply unfun to me. It’s a horrible chore. Do I sometimes take time off work when horrible chores are pressing enough to need doing? Yes. Is it a vacation? Heck no. And sitting around my house “vacationing” I’d just feel obligated to do those horrible chores instead of actually relaxing, and I’d way rather work.

      Would I love to spend a week playing video games? Yep. Could I actually do so and not feel horrible if I was in my own house doing it? Also yep. If I was somewhere else, I’d switch off the guilt and have fun doing nothing, but a rental-house vacation wouldn’t work either right now because we couldn’t get a petsitter in due to pandemic.

  106. Echo*

    My SO and I were both in this situation and we each took the opposite approach. I took a full week off and spent it taking VERY long walks, doing crafts, cooking, and reading. He took a series of 3- and 4-day weekends which had minimal disruption to his work and spent them more or less the same way he’d spend any weekend day, relaxing and hanging out at home. We’re both glad we took the time off, and we both realized we were a lot more burnt-out than we acknowledged before doing it.

  107. BabyShark*

    I just want to chime in that I recently took a 1-week camping trip at a nearby park and it was AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a more restorative vacation, and I’ve been very lucky to have my work impacted fairly minimally from COVID. Unplugging from work and the news for an entire week was so incredibly relaxing that I feel compelled to urge everyone to give it a try, even if you think you don’t need it.

  108. stitchinthyme*

    I had the same dilemma; we had a trip to Europe planned for early November which of course got cancelled. Last week we decided to rent a cabin out in the woods about an hour and a half away for a few days. Didn’t do a whole lot while we were there, but the change of scenery was nice anyway. We even braved a restaurant once (outside dining and there were no other customers out there besides us, so it was pretty safe) though we ate in the rest of the time because we didn’t want to push our luck. We’ll probably do it again at some point.

  109. Des*

    Let them know you won’t be available to answer your phone/email for work-related issues during your vacation, OP.

  110. Two Pringles*

    I’m feel your struggle. We just got through our busy season at work. And I feel like the summer flew by, and the years almost over. I’m looking at having a little bit more flexibility coming up with school and work and thinking about a vacation. But it’s hard to feel interested when my best option is to stay at home. I live in a condo, so my options are office (where I spend all my day at work), my bedroom or my living room. And I regularly move between those three to do work or school so having time off would mean, what, I binge watch some shows in bed and then go sit on my couch then go sit in the kitchen and then do that over and over again for 5 days. Yes, sounds thrilling. I’m already feeling bored in my house I might as well make my time useful by working and not burning my vacation time. I’m now realizing that maybe this grumpy, rant post/comment is an indication I do need some time off, haha.

  111. mgguy*

    Definitely take your time even if you just relax!

    At old-job, we rolled over but at the end of the fiscal year you could only roll over 2x your annual accumulation(which was up to 22 days/year depending on years of service). Our department secretary-who like pretty much all academic departments was the single most important person to make anything and everything that needed to happen actually happen-hadn’t taken a true “vacation” in years(as in a trip somewhere), but would take Wednesdays off for all of May and June, plus some added Tuesdays or Thursdays and also a few mixed in Wednesdays at other slow times.

    I’m a fan of long weekends if I’m going to “burn” days, but her argument was that a Wednesday off was making two short weeks out of one long one. It’s not how I like to use my days(I’d rather extend my normal “mental check out” days), but I certainly understood what she was saying and was her way of avoiding burn-out. There again, if you need to use days, that’s another option if long weekends aren’t as appealing.

  112. jojo*

    I like to take my time in the middle of the week. Like on wednesday. Sleep late, pot a plant. Go bvb to the store when it is empty. Pay the bills in person. Cook a fancier than normal supper.

  113. babblemouth*

    Echoing everyone who says to use it. Stay at home and do some crafts, go running, cycle, do any sports you want, read five books, do a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition movie marathon, learn a language, sleep 5 days straight, pick up street liter, reorganise your closet, call one old friend every day – literally anything. Or rent a holiday house not too far if you want to see some other place than the inside of your house. Just take it.

    1. babblemouth*

      Also, at a bare minimum, taking a day off every week could enable you to go do things like grocery shopping in off hours, thereby reducing your contamination risk.

  114. It's Happy Hour Somewhere*

    Three-day weekends are awesome! At a previous job, I used to take off every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I had a day when I could go to a park and find it nearly empty (because everyone else was at work) or a day to get all my errands and work done, so I could really enjoy my weekend with friends and family. It can be incredibly refreshing.

  115. moneypenny*

    USE YOUR TIME. Oh my gosh I cannot express enough how important it is, even if you don’t go somewhere amazing. Take the time, shut your brain down, don’t check your work email or communications. It’s worth the peace of mind, even if it’s happening on your couch with a book. We just took a long weekend and went to a cabin with (accidentally) no cell service. It was the first getaway since January because I forgot to take time away and also though why bother?, and cancelled two trips due to COVID. Still, that time was key. Take it, it’s yours.

  116. Foxgloves*

    Could you take the extra time around the holidays? E.g. the Wednesday/ Friday/ Monday around Thanksgiving/ the gap between Christmas and New Year? As Allison points out, this would have less of an impact on your tasks not getting done, but also these are times where lots of things slow down anyway, so it would hopefully have even less of an impact?
    But absolutely take the time, whenever you can, and ideally as a chunk. Your brain needs it, even if you don’t think it does.

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