Earlier this month, Iris Serbanescu, director of partnerships at TourRadar, the world’s largest online travel agency for multi-day tours, traveled to Iceland with a female-owned local operator called Pink Iceland. “The most incredible thing we did was hike a volcano and then descend 400 feet into its crater,” says Serbanescu. “I was blown away by the powerful feeling of being inside the crater of a volcano.” But even better than that—her employer paid for the trip.
TourRadar is one of a growing number of companies rewarding employees with the ultimate perk: free travel. Since early 2019, TourRadar has been giving employees annual travel credits of up to $1,800 to go on vacation, allowing them to save their paychecks while taking one of the 40,000 different adventures offered on TourRadar around the world. The aim: To fight corporate burnout, which was recently classified as a medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization.
“Some companies may discourage their employees from traveling all the time but at TourRadar, we encourage it,” says Christian Wolters, managing director of North America at TourRadar. “Our employees are passionate about meaningful travel, so we provide them with travel credits to encourage them to open up, try new things and experience different cultures through touring just like our customers do.”
>Other companies that compensate with generous vacation policies include Airbnb, which gives staffers $2,000 worth of travel coupons each year to stay at Airbnb properties, and Moz, where people get reimbursed $3,000 annually for vacation expenses. Meanwhile, Bonanza—an online marketplace—takes things to the next level during “Freedom February.” Every February, it moves its entire office from Seattle to a tropical location like Costa Rica, Oahu, Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen. All employees (along with their families) are given a bonus and extra personal days so that they can enjoy the workation.
There’s a reason behind this. Scientific evidence proves that taking longer vacations has a positive effect on employee well-being and productivity, while research shows that good vacation policies can help reduce healthcare costs, lower turnover rates, boost employee engagement and more. “We believe in the power of travel. It’s good for the world and good for our bottom line,” says Greg Sullivan, cofounder of Afar Media, where employees get unlimited vacation time and a $2,000 credit to travel the world. “The best employees are those who are engaged with their work, engaged with the world and energized by opportunities to see new and different things.”
Sama Abdi, social media manager at TourRadar, has traveled to countries like Greenland and Cuba with TourRadar’s FAM trip program—and she says the results are powerful. “Working in travel is very rewarding for a variety of reasons: not only do I get to inspire others to book their dream escape, but I also get the chance to travel for free,” says Abdi. “This has impacted my performance in the best way possible; I’m so much more motivated coming into work every day knowing I can plan my next vacation without dipping into my savings.”
When FullContact—a technology company that provides a suite of cloud-based contact management solutions—launched its “paid paid vacation” policy in 2012, it created a ton of buzz. Not only does the company provide $7,500 per year for employees to travel, it also requires that they don’t work while on vacation and that they don’t check business emails, texts or calls. Moreover, employees have to actually go on vacation or they have to pay back the $7,500. “It’s worked incredibly well,” FullContact’s communications director Brad McCarty told the Washington Post. “When someone returns from a Paid Paid Vacation, you see, without fail, people shining brighter, working harder and more excited to get back into the swing of things.”
Likewise, TourRadar encourages its employees not just to take time off to travel but to take time off for meaningful travel. “When you’re traveling on one of our multi-day tours, it isn’t just an extra day trip on top of a weekend while you’re still constantly looking at your phone for work,” says Wolters. “These are international experiences that average seven days in length. We want you to turn off and enjoy our product like our customers do, so you can come back to work refreshed with new life experiences under your belt.” Indeed, research shows that workplace culture improves when companies promote healthy boundaries and encourage time off.
TourRadar also goes beyond vacation time by offering an international work exchange program so that employees can spend time in its Toronto, Vienna or Brisbane offices without taking any time off. “The office exchange program allows TourRadar employees to swap offices with another employee in a different country for two to four weeks,” says Wolters. “This allows them to experience a new culture while getting to know their international counterparts better. We have a very diverse workforce from all around the world and we want to encourage them to interact with each other in person as much as possible.”
Ultimately, Wolters believes that TourRadar’s focus on work/life balance is helping foster a more enlightened workplace culture that encourages employees to be open-minded, adventurous and ready to take on any challenge.
Airbnb: The online hospitality marketplace gives employees $2,000 worth of travel coupons each year.
Afar Media: The travel media brand gives full-time employees unlimited vacation time and a $2,000 stipend to encourage them to travel to new places.
FullContact: With its “paid paid vacation” policy, the tech company provides $7,500 per year for employees to travel and requires employees to disconnect.
Go Overseas: The travel website offers its employees “paid paid vacations” with five extra days off a year to take a free trip on a volunteer, adventure or language-focused program run by one of its partners, plus a $1,500 flight allowance.
Moz: The software company reimburses employees $3,000 a year for vacation expenses.
Salesforce: Employees receive six days of paid volunteer time off a year, as well as $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.
TourRadar: The travel company gives up to $1,800 in travel credits to employees, as well as an international work exchange program. TourRadar is currently hiring 20 positions in its Toronto, Vienna and Brisbane offices.
Travelzoo: The travel commerce site gives employees a $1,500 stipend and three extra days of PTO to book one of the company’s negotiated travel deals.
TSheets: The time tracking and scheduling software company provides employees with a $1,500 per year travel credit, but you need to completely disconnect while you’re away.<
Yesware: The Boston-based tech company offers employees a $5,000 travel stipend to fund a dream trip when they celebrate their five-year anniversary at the company.
The Ultimate Paid Time Off: 17 Companies That Will Give You Money To Travel – Forbes