One of the biggest perks of working from home is that by being able to work from anywhere you can work, well, anywhere, including while traveling. While this is a great feature of being remote (that I clearly take advantage of) it doesn’t mean that the work from home employee does not need a true vacation.
I just got back from an 18-day trip out west. You may be thinking “18 days!!???!!” That’s right, 18 days. For a good part of it I worked from coffee shops and homes of my friends in the northwest US, but for an equally big part of it I was on PTO.
Some remote workers may see it as a waste of PTO since they don’t have to take time to get away. I support working through travel (read more here) but sometimes you need a true break. A friend of mine who also works remotely recently told me he hasn’t taken PTO in over a year. A year without vacation. He seemed proud of this but in my opinion, unless you are a small business owner whose company will literally stop and crumble to the ground in your absence (which is a different problem), not taking time off is doing it wrong. Here are 5 reasons why you MUST take vacation time, even when your time away is time away from a home office:
1. Your vacation days = your $$. We hear a lot about unused vacation days. (Side-note: one of my favorite ads is the MasterCard ad “One More Day” in which kids are shocked that their parents not using all their vacation days.) On top of the fact that vacation is earned, the full picture is that vacation days are part of your compensation if you are a salaried employee. Think about vacation as money: breakdown your salary into what it would be on an hourly basis. For each hour (or 8 hours, for one workday) you don’t use that is money you are throwing away. When you work without taking your paid time off you are lessening your paycheck.
2. Without you taking it your PTO just sits there, or worse disappears! Yes, some PTO rolls over and some companies have a policy of paying you out for unused days when you leave (though check your terms on both of these items) but unless you are about to resign or are planning on rolling days for a big trip, your unused time literally sits, proverbially, “there” and oftentimes if you don’t use it, it will be taken away from you. Use it or lose it, literally.
3. Rest is essential. No one, not even my small business-owning, midnight oil burning, rock-star of a father, can go without rest and true time off. It’s not good for the mind, body, or soul; which all have direct impacts on your performance at work. Even if you are your own boss you still need rest.
4. Time off helps you re-center and re-prioritize. Down-time helps you clear your head and recharge within your personal life. Beyond its head-clearing effect, it can actually help you improve at work. There have been many times I’ve returned from a trips and seen a certain problem in an entirely new light. Taking the time to get out of your own headspace and day-to-day world, seeing fantastic new places, and experiencing the greatness in life resets you. Once seemingly unsolvable issues become easily fixed, or if not easily fixed then manageable.
5. Sometimes you just need to take the time off to enjoy a trip. Sure you can work from coffee shops from different places while traveling (again, I do this ALL the time) but sometimes you need the time to do things like drive from Idaho to Montana to Wyoming, back to Idaho, then back to Wyoming, then to Colorado in a week. Or hike and bike or camp or ski or surf and sail or hit the tiki bar. Sometimes you just want to not feel obligated to check your email. THIS IS ALL OKAY. YOU HAVE VACATION DAYS SO YOU CAN DO ALL THESE THINGS ON A RANDOM TUESDAY DURING ANY MONTH OF THE YEAR. BEING ABLE TO WORK REMOTELY DOES NOT TAKE THIS AWAY FROM YOU.
Don’t believe me and my use of caps lock? Maybe some of the killer things I’ve been doing on my vacation in the pictures below and on my Instagram will help convince you:
Food trucks in Portland, OR
Multnomah Falls near Portland, OR
View of Puget Sound from the Cascades Train en route to Seattle
Obligatory picture of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park in Queen Anne
Obligatory picture of the Public Market
Obligatory picture of the Seattle skyline from the ferry to West Seattle (clearly did lots of obligatory Seattle things)
**Note: My PTO started after leaving Seattle
#selfiefail at Lava Lake a little south of Bozeman, MT
Antique sheepherder’s wagon in Belgrade, MT
Covered wagon again because it was just too cool
Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
Scenic views of Yellowstone
The Grand Tetons
The Working Girl From Home–from the Grand Tetons–on vacation
View of the Tetons from my Idaho Airbnb
Sunset over Idaho farmland, taken in front of my Idaho Airbnb
Sitting next to a huge potato in Driggs, Idaho
Rented a bike at the Tetons
View of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point
Panoramic of Jenny Lake as I hiked back down from Inspiration Point
The Working Girl From Home, on a bike in front of the Tetons
New Denver bud
Feeling guilty for taking vacation is common for remote employees and traditional employees alike. What have you done to get over it? Have you gotten over it? Did something finally convince you to take your PTO? Share in the comments below!