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Old 08-07-09, 11:20 AM   #1
RomeRider
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Suggestions for getting your employer to work with you...

I'm really hoping to do a cross country trip in about 5 years, but it looks like a hard sell for my company to give me enough time off in a row to do it. Do you some of you have experience with this? I'm not lacking vacation time, I just can't get that much off in row at this point. I hope that the mindset will change in the future. I will be 50 in 5 years and I want to do this while I am young enough to really enjoy it.

How do the rest of you pull it off?
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Old 08-07-09, 11:44 AM   #2
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I pretty much told them I was going and asked if I would have a job when I got back. I did it in a firm, but professional manner. In my case they were very supportive. FWIW, I was 55 when I started my Trans America and turned 56 while in route.

Now, at 58 I am thinking about possibly doing another coast to coast tour sometime in the next few years.
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Old 08-07-09, 12:03 PM   #3
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The NGO I’m employed with is really good at accommodating travel/time off and we have a program where we can plan to take up to a year off with pay by banking a portion of our wage. We also just negotiated the right to go to a 3 day workweek with benefits after 15 years of service. My job as a social worker has a very high burn out rate and I wish more of my co-workers would take time off to regenerate!

When I did my traveling I was either self-employed or quit my job when needed and I am so happy that I did all the things I wanted to do before I got trapped in the rat race. It is too bad that North American work culture frowns on taking long vacations and time off and sadly it is easier to take stress leave then to practice self-care by having a work hiatus!
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Old 08-07-09, 12:26 PM   #4
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My company wouldn't give me the time off so I quit - but I was otherwise unhappy there anyway. I would think with five years notice you could work something out with them?
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Old 08-07-09, 01:18 PM   #5
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It seems to me that given 5 years notice, your company should be able to figure out a way to accommodate you. I have no idea what kind of company you work for, nor what kind of a role you play, but what company is so poor at planning that they cannot pull this off.

I gave my company two years advance notice of my trip. I didn't really "ask". I just told them what I "needed". They didn't exactly say "yes" or "no" either, but just acknowledged my statement. I didn't ask for a "yes" or "no" answer either. Then I just keep reminding them at every opportunity that this is coming up. And I also pretty-much told everybody in the company that I was doing this, and posted my detailed plans on my internal web site. After enough repetitions, it just seems to everyone that this is a "done deal", even though it was never formally approved. Now, it's just generally accepted as a "fact".
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Old 08-07-09, 01:19 PM   #6
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If a company won't give you 2 week off with 5 years notice......well.......You sure they will be there in 5 years?
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Old 08-07-09, 01:20 PM   #7
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If you get resistance from mgmt, check with coworkers to see if any with family overseas have ever taken an extended vacation to visit them. Precedent is a huge thing.
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Old 08-07-09, 01:31 PM   #8
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Many business claim 'operational need' when employees ask for extended time off.

Does your company have written policies covering this? Many have 4 over 5' or similar programs where you can get time off in exchange for a reduced salary. How about time off without pay?

If your employer really believes that their employees are their most valued asset, they will accommodate you. I get 3 weeks a year. My employer allows me to carry forward one year's vacation to the next, but both must be used within the next calendar year. Six weeks is more than enough for most people.
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Old 08-07-09, 01:50 PM   #9
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5 years is an eternity in the modern corporate world. If your company is like many, the entire management structure will be different in that time and you may be working for a completely different set of people. Even if you get permission to go ahead with it now, that permission may be meaningless in 5 years as everything will have changed- including your job. Not trying to dissuade you at all, just keep in mind that you'll need to keep after this goal right up until the time you leave.
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Old 08-07-09, 03:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
If a company won't give you 2 week off with 5 years notice......well.......You sure they will be there in 5 years?
I doubt he is talking about 2 weeks. I may be wrong, but I took "cross country trip" to mean a coast to coast US trip since he appears to be from the US. For most that is 8-12 weeks.
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Old 08-07-09, 03:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
My company wouldn't give me the time off so I quit - but I was otherwise unhappy there anyway.
This is what I did as well.
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Old 08-07-09, 04:06 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rnorris View Post
5 years is an eternity in the modern corporate world. If your company is like many, the entire management structure will be different in that time and you may be working for a completely different set of people. Even if you get permission to go ahead with it now, that permission may be meaningless in 5 years as everything will have changed- including your job. Not trying to dissuade you at all, just keep in mind that you'll need to keep after this goal right up until the time you leave.
+1

5 years from now the company may not even exist ... or may have merged with another company. 5 years from now you may have decided you've had enough of that company and will want to leave ... or they may be tired of you and be dropping hints that you should leave. 5 years is a very long time.

I haven't the faintest clue what I'll be doing or where in the world I'll be living in 5 years.
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Old 08-07-09, 04:23 PM   #13
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5 years is a huge lead time. If they can't figure out a way to cover for you with that much warning then ask for $100,000 more than your current salary next salary review!

OK that is partly in jest. It is useful for companies to have people take time off because it helps pinpoint where they need more backup. From a purely business standpoint no one should be vital, anyone can quit or get hit by a bus. Again withthe lead time you are giving them this should be easy.

Now a real question is how long. 5 weeks becomes a longer time. 3 months a far different story.

If yuo are over 3 weeks or so I'd suggest considering making sure they have a way to contact you. It is amazing how many little things any person knows. if you are gone for 3 weeks it is likely none will come up for a week or 2 and any can be stalled for the remaining time until you are back, but 3 months it is a near sure thing that you will have some piece of information (or the knowledge how to find it quickly) that would take someone else hours or days to find (that can not wait until yuo are back).

A lot depends on what you want. If yuor desire is to be entirely away from your job if you are away 3 months it is likely they no longer need you nearly as much as when you left. If a little inbterruption will not bother you then you may return to find they think they need yuo more than ever. Also thinking about it the way computer technology is going you might be able to take a true portable computer with you and have pretty good access if needed. (The risk of it being more than a little time is something you have to judge).
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Old 08-07-09, 08:53 PM   #14
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Before I was thirty I didn't give a sheot about losing job . I would just pack up and go. Now that I'm all grown up and a slave to capitalism quitting my job isn't an attractive option. Longer tours I now break up into 2-3 week segments.

Instead of waiting for five years to go on one 3 month tour why not break it up and take a 3 week tour each summer for five years?
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Old 08-07-09, 09:03 PM   #15
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The answer to your question depends very much on relationship between you, your company and your bosses. Also depends a bit on company culture and size of the company.

I work in software business and have worked for large companies. Over the years, I've taken 6 weeks, 3 months, 12 months and 10 month long breaks. The typical cycle time for software we built was a year or two - so five years out is an eternity and bosses could be quite non-committal since they simply aren't planning that far out (myself in contrast was a planner who does think further out). So in the five year horizon, I worked more at establishing myself as a valuable, versatile and hard-working employee. I established good relations with my bosses and others, and generally let it be known in my "development plan" type discussions that it was my intent to take an extended break, come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenges. I kept up with improving my skills for not only my current job - but potentially other jobs I might get.

In a larger company, circumstances for extended leaves sometimes come up for other reasons such a maternity leave or military service. In those cases, the employer has legal obligations related to that leave. On a personal leave for extended travels - they don't have those obligations. However, losing someone with valuable skills and having to retrain is also a larger burden - so in companies I was with, if you had good skills, good track record, good relations with bosses - there was also an incentive for the company to work with you on that leave.

While I had given some mention of my plans in development discussions - I gave a more formal indication of my extended travels about a year out. No big surprises there (and probably even a bit early as notice goes). In each of those four cases, I ended up with an extended leave of absence. However, truth be told, if I hadn't gotten that leave, I would have gone anyway and then been mentally/financially prepared to find my next job on my return. It was a bit tougher in 2007 when the company was in midst of downsizing than in 2001 when they were still working with the dot com boom. However, I landed and moved on to the next job and started the cycle of dreaming and scheming for another extended trip again.

It has just been part of my dna to take some of these longer more extended travels. I get a lot of pleasure (and some $) from working, but I've also tried to live frugally enough that at some not too distant point, I could tour 100% of the time if desired - but probably also still choose to work a little less of the time.
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Old 08-07-09, 09:21 PM   #16
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I think 5 years is too far ahead to think about being at a job. I suggest you do what a previous poster said and just quit before taking off and not worry about too much or be like me and buy a cheap house to rent out. I own a house and am in the process of buying another so that I can take off for a few months next year. Renting out a house and rooms is a win win situation as the money comes in and your wheels keep turning.
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