Pay to Play

Your summer vacation has faded from memory. And your winter break is still eons away.

So how will you stretch your few remaining days off through the next 21/2 months?

Actually, 75 percent of us are satisfied with the amount of vacation time we have, according to a Gallup Poll this summer. Only 22 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their time away to play -- and that number has held steady for at least five years.

Those dissatisfied sorts may be the younger or newer workers, often stuck with two weeks off or less.

Sixty-nine percent of leading employers increase vacation time with seniority, according to Hewitt Associates. So while one-year workers get 11.2 days on average, after five years, an employee averages 15.1 days, and after 10, it inches up to 17.8. After 25 years, vacations average 23.8 days, Hewitt reports.

So if you're longing for more time away from work, stick around for another year or 10. Or Hewitt reports that two in 10 employers allow workers to buy or sell vacation time. If it's worth it to play, plan to pay.

-- Vickie Elmer