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Eight ways to maximize your limited vacation time

Seasoned travelers know that while the U.S. has one of the highest standards of living in the world, Americans also spend more time at work than most of our counterparts in other countries. So although weÂ?re well compensated, we’re also more stressed, less healthy, and spend fewer hours with our loved ones.

Given this situation, how can would-be globetrotters cope? Read our suggestions for stretching your time off, whether you want to escape for a weekend or the trip of a lifetime.

  • Plan ahead. Keep track of vacation days and ask for time off as soon as you know when you want to go away. One way to organize your time off is with the Vacation Tracker, a downloadable application that calculates and organizes leave time on a handheld device.
  • Make a long weekend even longer by taking an extra day or two off. If Monday is already an official holiday, why not skip Friday and make it a four-day weekend?
  • Leave early for your vacation. If youÂ?re driving to your destination, leaving early on a Friday afternoon (or Thursday night if you’re off Friday) can help you beat the traffic, and give you essentially an extra day away.
  • Take a red-eye (overnight) flight and come back to work on Monday morning. This way, you can spend most of your last day on vacation enjoying yourself rather than waiting in an airport.
  • Use successive weekends to turn five days off into a nine-day vacation. Include the two weekends on either end of a Monday through Friday vacation and you’ll almost double your time off.
  • Request unpaid time off. If you arenÂ?t living from paycheck to paycheck, asking for an extra week or two of time away can be a great solution to the vacation crunch.
  • Save up your time off for a big trip. To walk the Great Wall of China or take an African safari, youÂ?ll probably need more than just a week away from work. Build up your vacation balance so you have time for that special trip.
  • Take a sabbatical. If you’ve always dreamed of living in another country or traveling through several, consider taking a leave of absence from your work. Though this may not be possible in all jobs, if you have several years of strong service at your current position, you may be able to Â?negotiate for a sabbatical,Â? a process described in Six Months Off, a how-to book for planning super-long vacations.

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