Imagine being able to take off as much time as you wanted from work. The travel possibilities would be endless! Maybe you’d finally be able to do that three-week trip to Africa and still have enough vacation time left for your annual week at the cottage. It sounds like every employee’s dream … or does it?

As more and more companies start adopting an unlimited vacation policy, it’s important for employees to figure out how to navigate this new found freedom. How much is too much when it comes to time off?

Vacation does not mean working from home

This is where some confusion could arise between you and your manager. If you plan on taking a vacation day that doesn’t mean you keep answering emails. Vacation policies were put in place to help you relax and disconnect so you could return to work refreshed. Do not confuse this with being able to work from home. If you plan on cashing in some of your unlimited vacation days, prepare your work in advance and make sure you leave it all at the office so you can return relaxed and ready to roll!

Take time to plan it out

Just like you would with a traditional vacation policy, planning your holiday in advance is important. Just because you can take an unlimited number of days off doesn’t mean you can take them on a whim. Make sure you give your coworkers and manager plenty of notice so they can make the necessary arrangements to cover for you while you are gone.

Meet the minimum requirements

Many employers have found that when they introduced the unlimited vacation policies, the amount of vacation that people were actually taking declined. Employees had trouble figuring out how much vacation time they could take off without looking like a bad employee. Sure technically they could be taking an unlimited number but, what would the boss think?

Set a minimum requirement for yourself when the rules are introduced and strive to at least take that  number of days. A good rule of thumb is to use the same number of days you were given under the old vacation program (or in your last job). By doing so, you’re ensuring yourself a good amount of vacation as a base. You can, after all, add a few days here and there when you think you need another long weekend.

Don’t abuse the privilege

On the other side of the scale employees should be careful not to abuse the new policy. Ask your manager if they have a cap or recommended number of consecutive days you can take off. If there are special circumstances (an epic honeymoon plan perhaps?), have that conversation with your manager. As a general rule, try not to book more than three weeks off at a time. Remember that in most cases, you being away means someone else will need to pick up your slack. Try to get a feel for how much time the people around you are taking off and use that as a general rule. If you find your colleagues are taking less time than normal, bring this up with human resources. It may be time to define the rules for the company a little bit.

Most importantly, enjoy your time off. If you have planned properly with your team and taken care of your responsibilities, than go for it! That’s what the policy was put in place for. Spend more time with family and friends exploring new corners of the world, because we all know, travel is the best form of education and self-learning!