Did you hear the news that Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson gives his employees unlimited—yes, unlimited—vacation time? He was inspired by Netflix's vacation non-policy, which states "there is no policy or tracking." And then there's the story of San Francisco real estate search engine 42 Floors, which offers new employees a "pre-cation": two weeks of paid vacation before they even show up for their first day of work. We're jealous!
But what about those of us who don't work for a pioneering company like Virgin? How can we negotiate more vacation time? And, more importantly, how can we make sure we take all of the vacation days we have, unlike the 40 percent of Americans who don't?
We talked to Jill Jacinto, millennial career expert at AOL Jobs, who shared her pro tips for negotiating and enjoying all the time off you can get, even in a workaholic culture. Bye-bye, cubicle... Hello, European river cruise!
How to get more vacation days when you're accepting a new job...
Have an offer in front of you first before even bringing up vacation time, Jacinto says. Once you see the terms, ask for around three or four extra days, preferably over email so there's a record. "You don't want to shoot for another week, because that would really be an over-ask," Jacinto says.
Additionally, if you aimed for a higher salary but didn't get it, take heart: The company might want to meet you in the middle by lobbing you an extra day or two.
How to get more vacation days at your yearly review...
Make a plan before you set foot in your boss's office. Then go in for the kill. "You want to come on with a few career wins that have recently occurred," Jacinto says. "You can say, 'Look, I'm doing great work here. I've made the company X amount of money; I've increased our traffic 20 percent in the last few months... In addition to a promotion, I believe I have really earned two more vacation days for the year."
If you're a workaholic (whether by choice or out of necessity), use it to your advantage. "If you're in a job that has a lot of overtime hours, or if you've worked a lot of weekends, you could ask for it in that way as well," she says. "You could say, 'For every weekend I work, I'd like to add another vacation day to my schedule.'"
How to get more vacation days out of the blue...
These days, many companies, startups in particular, don't conduct formal reviews. If that applies to your workplace, first gauge both the mood in your office (a.k.a. you didn't just lose your biggest account) and your boss's perception of you, then ask, mentioning the same measurable performance stats you would if you were angling for a raise, Jacinto says. Even spartan companies have wiggle room.
"What we've really seen, especially with the recession, is more companies are able to give less monetary things, like extra vacation, when they don't have money to pass around," she says. "Or you could negotiate a flex work environment."
How to make sure you actually take those vacation days...
Almost a quarter of vacation days go unused, Jacinto says. Make an effort to take them all, even if no one else seems to be. If leaving for a large chunk of time is truly frowned upon, consider taking days non-consecutively or going away during your company's low period. But do take them.
"Offices definitely work as a tribe, so you want to follow in their footsteps a bit," she says. "But if nobody's going away, why should that hamper your energy level and charge level? You are given those days for a reason."
And when asking for more vacation days, NEVER say...
Keep your personal life personal, even if you're tempted to float those details as "reasons" you need time off. All your boss should be concerned about is the company's bottom line.
"That trip to Australia, your higher rent increase, those are things you shouldn't throw out there," Jacinto says. "What if the whole company was asking for that? It really has to be individualized to your own work."
Got it? Now go for it—and tag your vacation Instagram photos with #MyBudgetTravel to show us where you went with your extra time off!