Planning a vacation can get a bit tricky.
The hard part isn’t booking the flight, finding an Airbnb, or even figuring out a time that works for your friends or family.
The hard part is asking your boss for time off.
Yet, it’s the most important part of the vacation process.
Probably why it comes with so much anxiety.
What if my boss says no? When should I ask? What should I say? Is it too soon for me to be requesting time off? Should I even ask!?
These questions can make us have second thoughts about the whole thing.
But, if you don’t want to spend your work day scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat, watching other people enjoy margaritas in Cabo San Lucas, sight-see in Cuba, party in Vegas, you may want to speak up now or forever hold your peace.
So, how do request time off in a way that increases your boss’s chances of saying yes? Follow these three rules.
KNOW THE CULTURE OF YOUR OFFICE
It’s essential to know the basics first: How many paid vacation days do you have available each year? Do you even have paid vacation? When are you’re eligible to start taking vacation if you’re new to the company? How is vacation time scheduled among the office?
Once you’re aware of the rules and guidelines, pay attention to how and when others take (and request) time off for vacation.
Every company is different. Some companies are more laid-back and encourage you to take time-off. You’ll notice that conversations about summer vacation are already surfacing in the office and the next travel destination is a common topic at lunch time.
But for others, this is far from the case. Your co-workers rarely take vacation and most people tread lightly on the topic before they do.
Knowing the informal rules are just as necessary as knowing the rules in the employee handbook. For instance, I used to work at an office where once you had your vacation time approved by your manager, you had to email the entire office and let them know the days you’ll be out of the office. Kind of awkward? I know. But it was an unspoken rule.
GIVE YOUR BOSS ENOUGH NOTICE
The best way to position things in your favor is to give your boss enough notice about your vacation. You don’t want your boss to be surprised or taken back by your request.
I personally like to inform my managers, as soon as I’m aware. If I find out in January that there’s a destination wedding that I need to attend in May, I let my manager know in January.
There’s no need for hesitation or delay. The earlier the better, especially when other colleagues may have to request time off around the same time. You want to have first dibs, if the dibs count for anything.
At the very least, I would recommend requesting time off 6-8 weeks before your anticipated vacation. So, if you’re planning a Fourth of July trip this year, plan to tell your manager in the beginning of May, if not earlier. It’s a breath of fresh air knowing that you’re free to plan your trip with friends without any work barriers.
And, be sure to ask your boss on a day that he’s less busy or overwhelmed, like on a Friday afternoon or quiet day in the office.
COVER YOUR BASES
Put yourself in your manager’s shoes before you ask for time off. You don’t want your manager thinking about who’s going to do your work for you when you’re gone. Or worse, that she’s going to have to pick up the slack in your absence. Figure out those details before you ask.
If you and one of your co-workers frequently collaborate on projects, talk to her first. Let her know that you’re thinking about going on vacation and see if she would be willing to fill in for you, if necessary, while you’re out of the office.
If you have a time-sensitive project that you’re going to be working on around that time, make arrangements to wrap up the project before you leave and let your manager know that you plan to do so.
Check to make sure that key players in the office or on your team don’t already have plans to be out of office at the same time. Make sure that there are no major conferences, meetings, events or client duties that you must attend or fulfill. If so, figure out how you’re going to handle it before you request time off.
When you cover your bases, you show your manager and team that you take your responsibilities seriously and that work is still a priority for you.
So How Do You Make Your Vacation Request?
Now that we’ve went over those rules. How do you email your boss to request time off? Use this example.
Subject: Adunola – Vacation Request (8/31 – 9/5)
I’d like to request time off from Thursday, August 31 to Tuesday, September 5 because I’ll be taking a vacation out of the country on those days.
While away, I will be reachable by phone but will have limited access to email. I will make sure that all my deadlines are met before I leave the office for vacation and Hailey has already mentioned that she will be able to cover for me in case an emergency occurs while I’m gone. I will be sure to brief her on everything she needs to know before I leave.
Please let me know if this sounds good to you.
The goal is to ask, not demand and Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to Be Rich recommends using “because” since using the word and giving your boss a reason (regardless of whatever the reason is) increases your manager’s chances of saying yes. The email also let’s your manager know that you’ve covered all your bases and responsibilities.
Plus, people have a hard time saying no when asked directly so ending the email with, “Does this sound good to you?” makes it harder for your boss to say no, unless there’s a major reason why your request should be denied.
Now, you have no excuse not to request for vacation. Once your vacation has been approved, make sure to send a reminder 1-2 weeks before your vacation. The last thing you want is for people to be caught off guard days before you leave because they forgot.