Timing is Critical — to a Good Vacation

Timing can be everything. Good timing can mean capturing a beautiful photograph of a magical moment. It can mean getting off the winning basketball shot before the buzzer. Bad timing can mean surprises, disappointment, and worse. Timing can also make a big difference in your vacation planning. When planning your next vacation, keep in mind these important timing tips.
Vacation Trends Around the Globe
Vacation trends vary around the world, but there are some obvious patterns that you should be aware of when planning your next vacation. On average, Europeans get more paid vacation days than the rest of the world. This is, in part, because the EU mandates that every member country offers employees four weeks of paid vacation per year. This can mean up to 35 or even 40 days of vacation when you add in public holidays.

The most popular times for Europeans to go on vacation are July and August when the weather is nicest and vacation destinations are hopping. And go they do — en masse. One reason for this summer exodus lies in the history of the manufacturing industry. Factories and plants were difficult to operate without a full complement of workers, so factory owners would shut everything down while all their employees took their vacation at the same time. Volkswagon, until the 1980’s, even used to arrange mass transit for their employees to get out of town for some r&r.1

The tradition of taking vacations in July and August dates so far back that a law was passed in Paris in 1790 requiring that half of the city’s bakeries stay open during July and the other half in August to avoid a bread shortage. If you took a vacation when it wasn’t your turn, your business could be fined. This law was finally repealed in 2015.2

Travel trends in other countries are less obvious, partially due to the lack of workers taking their allotted vacation days. Over half of Americans leave their vacation time unused each year. Many Asian countries also suffer from workers not taking their time off. In countries like South Korea, workers only take an average of seven out of 15 days of vacation.3 The next time you’re planning a vacation, be sure to look at the travel trends of the area first to ensure you won’t be heading to a ghost town with no fresh baguettes.
On or Off Season?
Every travel destination has an “on-season” and an “off-season” for visiting. You may notice that during the off-season, prices are cheaper and destinations are less crowded. While it can be tempting to plan a vacation during this low time, there’s a reason no one goes then. Low periods of travel occur because of poor weather during that season or due to the closing of many businesses and tourist attractions.

There is no “summer=good, winter=bad” rule of thumb for the on and off-seasons of a destination. In Europe, summer will see seaside towns booming with tourists. But in India, summer brings monsoons. Each destination will have a high and low season that generally corresponds with good weather and ample sightseeing opportunities. The only way to know is to do research on your desired destination well before you plan on visiting.

There is a third “season” for vacationing called shoulder-season. This generally refers to the week or two weeks between the on and off-seasons. Prices are moderate, weather is good, and the crowds of tourists haven’t overrun the beach so much that you can’t find a spot to lay out your towel. Choosing when to book your vacation can be a delicate balance between pricing and convenience, with timing being the key factor.
Asking for Time Off
Another important aspect of timing is how much time you give your boss or manager between requesting your time off and the date of your vacation. Most managers say there can never be too much notice, but company policies differ widely and it’s important that you check what the minimum notice time is and stick to it. Your boss or manager will appreciate the extra time they have to make arrangements for everything to continue running smoothly while you are gone.

It’s also a good idea to avoid leaving during the busy times. Perhaps your business sees an uptick in orders during the holidays or your boss schedules yearly employee reviews at the same time every year. Being present for these events is important. Even if your request for time off is approved, other workers may come to resent you for leaving during a particularly hectic time. There is no harm in simply asking your boss what busy times are coming up and when it would be alright for you to use your vacation days.

Timing can also be used to your advantage to make your vacation longer. Adding your vacation days to the beginning or end of a three-day weekend will increase your vacation length automatically. You could also aim to take off the week between Christmas and New Years, a popular time in the US for traveling and spending time with family.
Timing While On Vacation
Running through an airport at breakneck speed is not the best start to a vacation, therefore, you also have to consider timing when you’re actually on your vacation. Too often, travelers do not give themselves enough time between flights or between a flight and a tour to have restful travel days. Make sure to leave plenty of time to get to the airport, get through security, change planes, and make it to the hotel in time for a cocktail before your first activity.

Traveling between attractions and destinations can also be stressful and waste precious touring time. Staying close to the most important activities and destinations will allow for maximum efficiency and reduced stress. It’s also a good idea to make a basic itinerary for each day so you can be sure there will be enough time to fit in everything you want to do.

While taking a vacation can yield many positive results, timing can make a big difference to how much you enjoy your time off. Complete thorough research on your destination to determine the on and off-seasons. Ask your boss or manager for time off as far in advance as possible. And make the most of your vacation with a daily itinerary and plenty of time for travel. Your good timing will make your vacation stress free.