How to Negotiate More Vacation Time

man standing over Grand Canyon

Written by Kathleen Rellihan on

Kathleen Rellihan is a former Travel Channel digital editor who hit the road for the freelance travel writer life. She summited Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day with WHOA (Women High on Adventure) and 25 women from around the world. You can follow her adventures on Twitter (@k_rellihan) and Instagram.

man standing over Grand Canyon


Let’s face the facts here: Two weeks vacation time each year just doesn’t cut it. You’ve earned a well-needed break, even if that means turning your sick days into a “sick trip.” Whether you’re about to accept a new job offer, or looking for ways to negotiate more time off with your bosses, steal these four tips on how to negotiate for more vacation time.


Foreign lands are calling to you but are you stuck behind a desk at work? Or perhaps you finally landed your dream job—a company with  a collaborative culture, a 401K plan, full medical and dental insurance, and an on-site gym—but they’re only offering two weeks of paid vacation time per year. 


But not a deal breaker! Instead of letting your dream job lose its shine, especially since you’re a self-proclaimed travel junkie, you simply need to negotiate for more time off and then maximize your combination of vacation days, sick days, and those much-beloved Federal holidays.

You’re a pro at throwing  the essentials in a  carry-on and hopping on a plane with just a moment’s notice. For you,  traveling is an imperative, really, because there’s zero chance that you’ll let yourself become part of the staggering 61 percent of Americans who say they are burned out in their current job according to  a 2017 CareerBuilder Survey. And let’s not even talk about the  705 million unused vacation days Americans left on the table in 2017—psst, we’ll gladly take a few of those vacay days of their hands.

Before you lament that two weeks vacation is just something that you are going to have to accept—especially if the job offer includes competitive pay—realize that more than half of all U.S. workers accept their first salary offer and don’t negotiate their vacation days and according to a  survey by CareerBuilder , even though employers expect to negotiate benefits, including vacation time.

Face it, you’ve probably left some vacation days on the negotiation table in the past. Now that you’ve seen the error of those ways, however, consider the following and have a plan for when you negotiate with your employer about increasing your vacation days


1. Make a Case for a Better Work/Life Balance

Employers should be happy to hear that money isn’t the number one reason that you’re after a new job. Most modern companies believe in work-life balance and see the benefits of having employees that are happy, stress-free, and  fulfilled. One argument that you can make during your negotiations is that recharging your batteries every so often is likely to make you more productive, as well as mentally and physically healthier. If the company doesn't see the benefit, perhaps it isn't the company for you.


2. Include Flextime/Telecommuting in Your Contract

In today’s working world, many workplaces are embracing flextime (working outside standard business hours) and telecommuting (working outside standard office locations). So while an employer might gawk at the request for extra vacation time, the company might be open to discussing flextime or telecommuting options. Perhaps, for example, you can negotiate getting one Friday off a month in addition to your vacation time if you work longer hours. Or maybe you can convince an employer to allow you to work from home one day a week.


3. Explore Projects You Can Work on Abroad/Remotely

If the company that is extending you a job offer has offices around the world, you could suggest that some of your vacation time could overlap with visits to these other offices. But don’t go into the meeting with guesswork! Be prepared to provide the employer with concrete projects ideas that you could work on while out of the main U.S. office. For instance, more yearly time off could allow you more  bleisure travel opportunities—perhaps you could do field research, scout out potential business partners, and attend conferences/workshops abroad. If your employer is has no international presence, consider how the  digital nomad lifestyle lets you clock in hours at the office while hopscotching around the globe with just your  laptop bag and a  dream of the unknown. 


4. Trade Vacation Days for a Slightly Lower Salary

While taking a lower salary isn’t always a viable option, if you can afford it and would rather have more time off, then bring this up in the negotiations. A start-up or small company might see this as a perfect compromise, because it'll give the company more money to grow in the early days when cash flow is strained. Also, usually start-ups and small companies also know the importance of preventing employees from burning out and offering benefits that will attract young talent.

With the right plan, you’ll be packing your  duffel bag and taking a life-changing  journey through the Nepalese Himalayas in no time. But remember: Negotiation is all about being flexible, so always remain professional and open. While you need to be realistic, it’s important to know your value, and if you get the feeling that the job isn’t the best fit during negotiations, be prepared to either quit your job[1] , or simply walk away from the job offer.


Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Bleisure Travel: Work and Play on the Same Trip

Working Remotely: What is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?

7 Tips for Business Owners Who Need a Break