Creative methods can help you extend your vacation

Vacation days are at a premium in North America. But with creativity, time off can be utilized in ways that ensure working professionals get the rest and relaxation they need.

Vacation is a time to kick back and enjoy life away from the stress and routine of home and work. Far too often, people do not take enough time to rest and recharge.

A report published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States government doesn't mandate any paid vacation from businesses, and most employers that offer vacation time as perks give an average of 10 days. The same report found that Canadian workers are guaranteed two weeks of paid vacation days, with the exception of Saskatchewan, which mandates three weeks.

Even people who earn substantial vacation time each year may still not use those days, with many saying they simply cannot take time off and still complete all of their work. This doesn't have to be the case. Creative travelers can make the most of vacations, even when they only have a few days to do so.

Plan vacations with holidays in mind.

Planning paid time off around holidays can be a smart move when vacation time is limited. Book trips around three-day weekends and other statutory holiday time to increase days away without digging too much into personal vacation time.

Take advantage of both weekends.

Include both weekends in your vacation. For those with five workdays of vacation time to take, don't forget to flank that Monday through Friday with the Saturday and Sunday preceding it and following it. This affords you nine uninterrupted days of vacation time, which is enough time to travel to an international destination or to enjoy a multi-night cruise.

Embrace the weekend getaway.

Getting away from home can reduce stress and help workers face the upcoming week and feel more rejuvenated. Take advantage of those free Saturdays and Sundays by booking trips that are a short car or plane ride away. When possible, leave on Friday evening and return home on Sunday night to further stretch out time.

Plan flight times smartly.

Increase time spent at destinations by booking early-morning or late-evening flights. This way precious daylight isn't spent at the airport or in transit.

Transfer other work perks into vacation time.

Speak with your employer to see if you can bargain for more vacation time. A married employee who gets health benefits through a spouse may not need insurance. See if that money saved can be put toward more vacation days instead. Some employers allow flex schedules as well. This means that employees can work longer hours per day in exchange for an extra day off each week or month.

Build vacation days into business trips.

Find out if you can build onto business trips with an extra day or two for leisure. This way you can go sightseeing after putting in your hours for the company. Some families book vacations during business trips, meaning they upgrade to a larger hotel room and accompany the employee to the destination, utilizing whatever time he or she has off for pleasure.

Vacation days are at a premium in North America. But with creativity, time off can be utilized in ways that ensure working professionals get the rest and relaxation they need.