Austria, The Vacation Nation

‘The Sound of Music’ show in Salzburg, 1994 | Tannya Joaquin photo

‘The Sound of Music’ show in Salzburg, 1994 | Tannya Joaquin photo

Austria has many claims to fame. It’s the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the hills are still alive with The Sound of Music, thanks to one of my all-time favorite movies.

It also gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger, Red Bull, KTM dirt bikes and another famous Wolfgang, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

But I’m reminiscing about this charming country, where I lived abroad one summer, for another reason.

Austria is also the country that guarantees workers the most paid vacation days per year. That’s 35.

In addition, Austrians receive 13 paid holidays. Do the math.

That adds up to 48 days a year of vacation time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, but imagine the places you could go and people you could see with 48 vacation days every year.

I try to strategize my vacations and spread them out over the course of the year.

My annual wish list includes a winter snow-boarding trip, a summer getaway and a few days off sprinkled in every couple of months for staycations or quick West Coast swings to recharge.

Note that I said wish list. Budget and schedule permitting, of course.

The strategy part of the equation has to do with the demands of the news business. There are three months during the year when we can’t take time off. One of them happens to be right now, November. It’s all hands on deck because we’re in the middle of our ratings period.

So just as soon as we TV news types polish off the turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving, we have to take advantage of vacation days that are left over.

Like clockwork, there will be a scramble to “use or lose” time off before the inevitable New Year’s resolutions to not wait until the last minute again.

Sure, having Christmas off would be nice, but suddenly news managers have to juggle a rush of vacation requests and still put on seven-and-a-half hours of news daily.

Factor in winter breaks for parents of school-aged children and the window of opportunity for an end-of-year vacation narrows further with coworkers competing for the same days off.

I used to plan trips in early December to avoid the holiday crowds and high prices, but with two kids soon to be out of preschool for two weeks, I think I have to revise my strategy.

Hey, I wonder if I have enough time left to return to Austria?