THE BLOG
09/29/2016 06:23 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cash in on Your PTO and Book Your Staycation Today

A staycation is an incredible, under-utilized way to spend your hard earned vacation days. If you're working full time, you should always keep in mind that Paid Time Off (PTO) days are part of your work contract / monthly payments and therefore your personal hours to spend how you wish. You wouldn't give part of your paycheck back to your company, so why would you leave money on the table and not spend your PTO hours!?

According to Project: Time Off, more than half of Americans workers left unused vacation days in 2015. This is to due to workplace pressures, cultural hustle expectations, heavy workloads, that dreaded feeling that work will be even more stressful when we get back - and also the thought that we can't afford to take a vacation and don't even know where to even start when planning our time off. So if you have PTO days piling up, why not start with a staycation?

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Photo Credit: Strategic Stephanie

Does staying home for a vacation not sound so fun to you? Or do you worry that your co-workers will judge you for not booking a flight, or even worse, expect that you'll be available to work since you'll be in the area? Take a deep breath and let go of those fears - you can spend your money and hours however you choose to! Is your goal to catch up on some personal tasks that have fallen to the side? Or perhaps you just need to get a massage, catch up on sleep, and dive into the magazines and books piling up next to your bed? It can be wonderful playing tourist in your own town - you don't even have to worry about packing, airport security or booking a hotel!

I have explored over 25 countries across 6 continents - but my most recent vacation, a staycation - was my most refreshing PTO that I have taken in recent years. Don't get me wrong, I believe in making the most out of my vacation days, but it's not always possible to travel to the other side of the world to disconnect. Whether you can take a whole week or a long weekend, a staycation is an excellent (and free!) option for using vacation days.

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Photo Credit: Strategic Stephanie

Worried that staying home will lead to checking work emails and falling into your usual routine? Make sure you set expectations prior to starting your staycation, with yourself and with your co-workers. Prepare your team for you to be fully out of the office, then shut down the work computer and remove the emails from your phone. You're the only one who can do that for you, so take control over your time off and follow your own rules.

Staycations are not a lame vacation cop out, but an amazing way to spend your hard earned time off and actually enjoy the place you live! Recognize that disconnecting and giving yourself a break will bring you back to work happier, more productive and efficient than ever, and that everyone in your life will benefit from you giving yourself time off. Take a step back and examine what you personally need to succeed. Audra Lorde stated that "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - so take care of yourself, spend your PTO days earned, and request that time off today.

Stephanie Huston [@StrategicSteph |@StrategicStephanie], is a career mentor, volunteer, social media strategist, and world traveler living and working in New York City. Stephanie has served as the NYC President of The United Women in Business Foundation [UWIB] since 2014, leading the organization's long-term development in efforts to help members excel despite the challenges and inequalities that women face in today's business environment. A passionate traveler, Stephanie has explored over 25 countries across 6 continents and will be going on an adventure to her 7th continent, Antarctica, this November 2016 with Oceanwide Expeditions!