Travel Expenses

Infinite Vacation? What About a Mandatory Pre-cation?

Back in the days when I was doing the office job routine, I remember reading something about how you should try to stagger your jobs so that you have a week of (unpaid) time off between the end date of your last job and the start date of your next job—because when else are you going to have “no responsibilities” and time for a vacation?

Some companies are taking that advice to heart, and insisting their new hires take a mandatory paid “pre-cation” before starting work.

Slate describes San Franscisco real estate search engine company 42Floors, and what happened when CEO Jason Freedman implemented the pre-cation policy:

Freedman decided to begin offering pre-cations to all his new hires. “The day they get their offer letter, it’s kind of like Christmas morning, in that they have a new job and they’ve already thought through the vacation they’re about to go on. We have a guy who’s about to start next week, and he’s in Thailand right now. It’s like, ‘Yeah, have a great time! And when you get back here, work your ass off.’ ”

The difference between a pre-cation and a regular vacation is, of course, the lack of responsibility. You’re not leaving other team members in the lurch because they’re not your team members yet. You don’t have a company email inbox that’s stacking up with unread messages, and you don’t have to take your job on vacation with you because, well, your job hasn’t started.

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An Interview With a Friend Who Got Bedbugs The First (And Last) Time She Used VRBO

So, what have you been up to?

I went to Big Bear Lake, California for a bachelorette party. Twelve of us stayed atThe Moose Lodge at 209 Elgin Road, which another friend had found on VRBO. It looked great—cute cabin, moose stuff everywhere, very rustic, close to the lake… And full of bedbugs.

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The Economics of Reclining Seats During Flights

During my flight home, the passenger in front of me turned around and mumbled something, and when I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” the passenger across the aisle from her said: “She asked you if it would be okay for her to recline her seat.”

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The Cost of Street Food in Delhi

Last month I moved from New York City to Delhi, first to volunteer and then to (hopefully) change careers. Finding a place willing to let me volunteer wasn’t hard; the next step is a little more daunting. In the meantime, I’ve become fascinated by Delhi’s street food. I’ve lived in India before, and while I did eat a lot of street food, I stayed away from a lot of the most delicious looking food because I was worried about getting sick. Of course, I still got sick all the time. This time I decided that if I was going to be sick either way, I might as well eat what I want. Plus, Delhi is huge, and the food on the street is so elaborate and varied and always-tempting. Most of the time I am too curious not to try.

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Visiting Hogwarts When You’re Broke

Yeah, I paid $31.12 for an enchanted (discounted) piece of plastic. But *it* chose *me.*

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The Cost of Missing Your Flight

I spent a week in Seattle recently – my sister had a wedding to attend, and I tagged along to shop and explore the city. The wedding was on a Saturday night. Our flight home was booked for the following day, connecting through O’Hare, and we were scheduled to arrive home just in time for her to get a full night’s sleep before her nursing shift early Monday morning.

We ended up missing our connection because we were stupid enough to think we had enough time between flights to go to the bathroom and get something to eat without running through O’Hare like romantic comedy heroines chasing after Chris Pine or whatever. We showed up at the gate two minutes after our plane finished boarding, and we knew it was the last flight home to Montreal that day.

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Tipping Housekeeping is Controversial? (No It Isn’t)

The Marriott hotel chain has begun to include empty envelopes in its rooms to encourage / remind guests to tip the workers who have been folding their towels, making their beds, emptying their trash, leaving mints on their pillows, and generally making everything look like it was arranged by magic elves.

Tipping housekeeping in the US is expected and oh hey more complicated than I realized: etiquette requires “$2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels. Also more if there are more than 3 people in a room or suite. Leave the tip on your pillow or in a similar obvious place with a note that says thank you. Leave the tip each day when you leave the room, rather than at the end of your stay, because your room might get cleaned by different people each day, depending on staff schedules. If you have additional items delivered to your room, such as extra pillows, hangers, luggage racks, tip the person who brings them $2 or $3.” Okay!

But now that Marriott has provided a convenient way to tip that also makes the practice increasingly explicit, some folks are like, what, you’re gonna guilt me into tipping? Others have even used the word blackmail because times are so hard folks can’t afford dictionaries. NPR explains:

not everyone is welcoming the plan to promote tipping. Some compare it to blackmail. And hard-core business travelers who rack up hundreds of nights in hotels per year say they don’t want to tip in cash, as is customary. Instead, they suggest, the company should let guests add a tip to their room bill. If Marriott wants to see the wide range of responses, it won’t have to look far — people in its rewards program have been debating the issue for the past day. … This is a bit over the top for Marriott to be doing this to us, almost like black mailing us into it. If they are so concerned they should pay these hard working people a better wage! Letting Maria Shriver have this much influence over them is a bit disturbing. – pdyer

What does Maria Shriver have to do with anything? Never mind, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS, sorry. Anyway, think of Jenny when you travel, or that first diner scene in Reservoir Dogs (nobody wants to be Mr. Pink), and tip generously. If you don’t want to tip, don’t travel, or stay in an AirBnB, where I think you can get away without paying a gratuity. At least for now.

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The Cost of Five Days on Fire Island

Fire Island is the kind of place you see in Nancy Meyers movies, with big, weathered houses plopped right on the beach, with steps leading down to white sand and the ocean. Tina Fey summers there with her family, and on our last day on the beach, we sat next to her. She’s very thin, but seems nice. It’s the kind of place where shoes are optional and people ride beach cruisers along the boardwalks in their bathing suits.

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Share, Don’t Scroll: How to Do Internet on Vacation

But I won’t stress out about whether I’m living in the moment so much that it makes me ignore the moment.

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Around the World on $80 a Day

$7 for a double room with private bathroom (cold shower) and overhead fan. Geckos are free of charge.

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The Real World Cost of a $22 Gadget

The “knee defender” (great name, dude) costs $21.95 and keeps the person seated in front of you on an airplane from being able to recline. It’s also a great way to start fights between strangers!

The spat began on United Airlines Flight 1462 because one passenger was using the Knee Defender, a $21.95 lock that attaches to a tray table and jams the reclining mechanism of the seat in front. The male passenger, seated in a middle seat of Row 12, used the device to stop the woman in front of him from reclining while he was on his laptop, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official said.

The pilot made an unplanned stop in Chicago, at which airport the feuding passengers were ejected, and the plane continued on to Denver where it landed an hour and a half late. So, in case you’re thinking of getting your own Knee Defender, buyer beware: the hidden costs might be significant and include your suddenly having to figure out how to get you, and your water-logged laptop, to Colorado.

Business Insider offers a refresher on airplane etiquette here. The publication supports your right to use the seat you’ve paid for however you see fit, but cautions, “make sure to look behind you before you recline. Maybe warn the fellow traveler whose space you are about to invade, so they can hang onto their drink or adjust their laptop. And stay upright during meals.”

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