Recession Travel Tips: Asking for Time Off

Get vacation advice from employment experts on how to ask your boss for time off during a downturn without endangering your job or disrespecting your coworkers.

Maybe it’s the dream sojourn through Asia you’ve been planning since college, or maybe it’s just the week you spend at the beach every summer. Whatever the destination, many workers are feeling hesitant about asking for vacation time this year.

When news of layoffs dominates nightly broadcasts and talk around the watercooler, it can be daunting to let your boss and coworkers know you’re planning to skip town. No one wants to be the fool who returns from paradise to find a pink slip waiting.

Should You Ask for Time Off?

But workers who need a break shouldn’t be discouraged, say management experts, and they should be putting in for that time. Those who forego a vacation this year may lose days to their company’s rollover limits, or worse, risk burning out.

“Smart managers know that getting time off now and then helps employees come back refreshed and productive,” says Alison Green, a Washington, D.C.–based chief of staff at a mid-sized company and the voice of reason behind the blog Ask a Manager.

If you’re worried about taking a vacation, schedule a talk with your boss. Consult with him or her about the dates you’ll be gone, and ask what you can do to make your time away less disruptive to your coworkers.

Soliciting management’s input shows you’re a team player, says North Hampton, N.H.–based J.T. O’Donnell, a workplace strategist and founder of job-advice site Careerealism. If your department is under particular pressure, she says, try feeling out your boss’ mindset by asking what his or her plans are this year before bringing up your own.

But chances are, your boss will be happy to help you find the time to go—at companies that are canceling bonuses and raises, management may feel vacation days are the one incentive they have left to offer.

Vacation Tips: Planning Ahead to Get Away

For some workers, looking ahead to a trip helps them keep a positive perspective when the immediate news all sounds bad.

“Enough doom and gloom,” says Lydia Ruth, a marketing manager for Westchester County in New York. “Yes, I’m planning trips,” she asserts, including a five-day getaway with her husband and friends to Gila, N.M., in May, and another to California in October. Her vacation advice to those who are feeling less sure: “Celebrate. Have fun. Life is short.”

Here are a few more tips to ensure your time off will be trouble free: