How I asked my boss for an extended leave to travel – and how you can do that too!

This year in order to implement my travel plans I asked my bosses for an unpaid leave for two months. A lot of people are surprised and tell me “I would never get it at my workplace”. Indeed, such an idea still seems a whim to many people and bosses. Especially more authoritarian ones whose mission is to make their employees forget that private life exists may have troubles with accepting such proposal. There are some tricks though, which will make them at least consider it. What are those tricks?

How to ask your boss for an extended leave to travel?

1. Be a valuable employee

It seems logic but it’s worth emphasizing. If you ask for an extended leave being a person who spends the most of your work time on Facebook and then you try to catch up two days before the deadline – I don’t think you will succeed. If your work is valuable, scrupulous, you are eager to learn, you create added value for your team and company – then your situation is much better. The employer will want to keep such a good employee. It just makes more sense for him. Starting the whole recruitment process, choosing and training another person generates more costs. And he still wouldn’t know if this person will be as good as you. I would also advise not to do it during the first weeks of your work 🙂 I asked for an extended leave after having worked for one year and a half in the same place.

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2. Explain why you want to travel

Explanations and giving reasons is a very effective way of influencing people. Scientists (American, I think ;)) proved that we agree on a request much faster if we hear the reason of it. Tell for yourself, would you be more eager to let a person in a queue before you if he asked “Could you please let me stand in a queue before you?” or if you hear a reason, like “Could you please let me stand in a queue before you because I am in a hurry to catch my train?”. It works in more significant situations as well.

Tell your boss that you want to go because travelling is your biggest passion, that you want to get a unique experience this way. That it lets you achieve your life goals, that you want to show the world to your child, challenge yourself, do something new and ride a donkey to Sri Lanka. I’m sure all of you will easily come up with some more convincing reasons than “just because” or “because I hate this terrible job” 🙂

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3. Find a replacement

The most important point of our list. What’s your boss’s main argument against your travel? Who will do your job. If you answer that with “I don’t know” your boss will probably tell you that he doesn’t know either, that you should stop dreaming and get back to work. You should prepare a solution. Talk to your colleagues. Are they able to take over your responsibilities while you are on leave? Are they willing to work extra-paid overtime if needed? Can you work part-time remotely? Or do you need to find a full-time replacement? If you have some proposals prepared for your boss not only will you confute his argument but also emphasize how valuable you are. He will realize that you think of every aspect of the situation and take care that your travel doesn’t have a negative impact on the company.

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4. Emphasize how motivated you will be after your return

All employers want to have motivated employees, full of energy, ideas and initiative. Emphasize that the possibility to go will be a huge load of motivation for you and you will come back full of new experiences and ideas which will have a positive impact on your performance at work.

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The above methods are not a recipe for 100% success. But they do make it more probable that you will get your leave and the boss will consider it a good investment in a valuable employee. You will prove that you are an ambitious, passionate person who is not afraid of new challenges. Such employees are really valuable assets, they are key resources in business development. And if someone doesn’t appreciate it – maybe it’s not worth working for him after all?

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