Vacation Disparity
April 12, 2010 7:10 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I have vastly different amounts of paid vacation time. What do I do with all the excess?

I get about twice as much paid vacation as my girlfriend. Complicating things further, she uses some of her minimal vacation time to visit her parents on the other side of the country. I could take a vacation by myself, but I travel quite a bit for work as it is and I would feel guilty about leaving her home to take care of the apartment and the cats while I go off and have a good time somewhere without her.

Is anyone else in a situation like this? What do you do with your time off? I can't sit on it indefinitely - we're capped to a certain number of "banked" hours. I have the option to cash out some of it, but I still need to take a certain amount of time off before I'm eligible for that.

I usually use some vacation time between Christmas and New Year's to relax and catch up on video games, and also to take off on paid holidays that my girlfriend gets but I don't.
posted by backseatpilot to Work & Money (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Take off for a week and do all the chorses around your girlfriend's place and have dinner ready for her when she gets home. If that doesn't sound like a vacation to you, just wait until the great sex that will come with not having to worry about a damn thing after work...
posted by WeekendJen at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2010 [14 favorites]

I would feel guilty about leaving her home to take care of the apartment and the cats while I go off and have a good time somewhere without her.

Did you ask her if she would mind? Maybe a part of her would enjoy that in her own way. Also keep in mind she might feel guilty if you stick around for her benefit. The give and take can go both ways, and realizing that partners are on different footings is an important step in forming a lasting relationship.
posted by chrillsicka at 7:18 AM on April 12, 2010

Best answer: My parents have this 'problem' my dad gets a ton of time off and my mom gets the normal 1-2 weeks. What my dad will do is take a long weekend when he has projects around the house, especially when they're remodeling or doing the big spring yard clean up.

My dad is also a really active camper, and my mom is not. So he gets together a couple times a year and heads out to the woods with the boys without feeling like he's leaving my mom out. She's actually pretty relieved that she 'can't' go with him.

So I say break it up. Plan a long weekend once a month or so and just take the day to relax and regroup. Maybe instead of a long weekend you could take a few Wednesdays and make your week feel shorter.

Have you considered volunteering somewhere? You could take a week and work for your local Habitat for Humanity. In my opinion getting paid time off and doing something worthwile is awesome.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:19 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

My partner gets twice the vacation time I do. One way we're resolving this is that he uses some of it to do things I'm not interested in, such as golfing vacations with his friends. He also spreads it out such as taking a day off every couple of weeks to do day-long courses or other activities eg tennis bootcamps. Actual vacations are together.

On preview: what everyone else said.
posted by tavegyl at 7:19 AM on April 12, 2010

Best answer: Just because you use vacation time doesn't mean you actually have to go anywhere. Most people I know could totally use a week at home just taking care of shit. I know I could. I mean, outside the normal stuff most people run a week or so behind on anyways--laundry, cleaning the bathroom, paying bills, etc.--there's all sorts of intermediate- to long-term projects that you never quite have enough time to get to, you know? Like rewiring that lamp, cleaning out the pantry, cleaning out the car, painting the bathroom, etc. I'm sure if you thought about it you could easily fill up three or four days with stuff you've been putting off.

There are also more fun things to do most of us don't have the time for. Do a week-long fitness boot camp. Take a cooking class. Read some Dostoyevsky. Visit that museum you've been meaning to get to. Go for a hike. Hell, catch a matinee on a Tuesday. The possibilities are endless.

Granted, this isn't exactly Vegas or anything. But 1) you don't have to leave your girlfriend by herself and 2) you can mix the purely fun stuff with the more practically productive stuff.

Sounds pretty relaxing to me.
posted by valkyryn at 7:23 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have two weeks more vacation time than my husband. I cannot cash any of it out, and am limited to carrying over 5 days to the following year. I just use my "extra" days for random single days off. Once or twice a month I'll just take a Friday or a Monday off so I can have a three day weekend. I love my husband dearly but it's nice to have a day at home when he's not there. Nothing wrong with some alone time.

Often by the end of the year I still have so many days off that I'm taking every Friday off for the last 6 weeks just to use them all up, in addition to the usual holiday vacations. Not such a bad thing.
posted by misskaz at 7:25 AM on April 12, 2010

Yeah, find a volunteer project in your area that you can spend a few weeks on. Charities are often hard up for skilled people who can commit solid blocks of time, and not just an hour or two a month. You'll enjoy the change of pace, you'll meet new people, you'll feel good about what you're doing, and you'll have no conceivable reason to feel guilty about it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband has umpteen squillion more hours of vacation time than I do. He will take random Thursdays and Fridays off during the year to catch up on housework/relax/work on his hobbies.

He also always takes the week between Christmas and New Years off, too.
posted by Lucinda at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2010

Best answer: N'thing the "you don't have to go anywhere" crowd - take the time, if you can't bank it or cash it in some other way, and stick around town. Do something different. Do that side project you've always wanted to. Take a course. Do something special with/for your lady. Take an intense 2 week yoga or judo class.

Time is the one thing you can't get back - and as they say, nobody dies saying they wish they spent more time at the office - so take the time and do something locally.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:35 AM on April 12, 2010

Mr. Arkham has way more vacation than I do, so he gets to be the one to stay home and take care of service calls and such. But he also takes "personal days" here and there to just stay home and read or relax.

Also, now that he's back in school, he uses a few hours of vacation every week for a class that starts early.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2010

I'm with WeekendJen on this one. Take a week off during which you cook dinner for her every day, and have it waiting when she gets home. Backrubs. Foot massages. The whole nine yards of pampering.

This will almost certainly result in a memorable vacation for you, too.
posted by rokusan at 7:49 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

How long have you lived together? She might be glad to get rid of you for a week. Plus, you'll have something interesting to talk about when you get back. (Don't forget to pick up souvenirs.)
posted by desjardins at 8:24 AM on April 12, 2010

We have a pretty liberal vacation policy (for the US anyway) at my company. Random 3-day weekends are pretty popular with the employees, because you can get stuff done around the house.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2010

Similar situation with my live-in boyfriend and I. What we often do is, (since I like vacationing alone as well as with him) I go to the location first, scout it out, do the girly stuff he won't want to do (shopping, etc) and then he joins me a few days into it. That way we can still have a shared experience.

Also, I go on trips with friends. There's nothing wrong (especially if you only have cats and not kids) with going adventuring on your own time. As long as you chip in extra-hard with the housework before and after, you really don't need to feel guilty about using your vacation days in a memorable way. If you ever have kids or change to a more time-consuming job, those lost solo-vacation adventures will seem like wasted gold to you.
posted by egeanin at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Taking a few long weekends sounds like a good way to get some extra stuff done and even (gasp!) relax some.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:04 AM on April 12, 2010

I recommend the volunteering route. There are some organizations that will let you donate your vacation time and then match you up with businesses or partners in troubled countries. You can work with them for a few weeks or months (length depends on the engagement) and then return to your regular job.

For some, all expenses are covered (room, board, flights etc.) since you are donating your time and expertise.

I know of a few organizations here in Canada (Uniterra) but I'm sure there are similar organizations in the US.
posted by purephase at 9:48 AM on April 12, 2010

There's long weekends, true - but depending on your employer/team's preferences, it might make just as much or more sense to use it to take shorter days. I've got a similar 'dilemma,' and one of the main ways I've exploited it has been to take a lot of half days. My team/boss likes it because I'm not entirely gone, in case I'm needed, but I get to end up doing a lot of afternoon events/shows I'd otherwise miss, or I can stay up exorbitantly late one day and start the next day at noon.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2010

If your girlfriend's work schedule permits, you might have lunch with her on one or more of the days you take off but stick close to home. I really enjoy it when I get to see my sweetie at lunch, even if I do have to go back to the salt mine when we're done eating.
posted by Lexica at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2010

If you're a really fantastic boyfriend, find out when she has a particularly intense schedule or a project due, and time your vacation to be helpful at that time of year. Knowing that she can slack off on chores for a few days because you'll be doing everything will be a big help. I've taken off the day after my husbands busiest work day, so he can sleep in on his day off and recover without having to take the kids to school or do any laundry.

Just don't do this if she would be jealous of you being off work while she's working overtime.
posted by saffry at 3:26 PM on April 12, 2010

My better half works (through choice) a nine day fortnight, and has every second Friday off. She uses it for all sorts of things she's personally interested in, such as horse riding lessons or going fishing. But it's also handy for us as a couple to have someone regularly free during business hours for those errands that absolutely can't be done in a lunch break or over the 'net.

You'd probably also find that a semi-regular four-day week was pretty handy too.
posted by damonism at 8:27 PM on April 12, 2010

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