Should You Take The Day Off Work To Go Skiing?

Here is a flow chart to help you decide:

yes flow chart

But wait, you say, it’s not that simple. Right, it’s not.

You have too much going on at work for you to miss a day for something as inessential to capitalism as skiing. Your team at work is great, and could hypothetically keep things going, but you really need to be there. Especially now, in the middle of this big project or whatever thing you guys are working on. Because it’s due soon, or it’s overdue.

Let me ask you this: Imagine tonight you go out to eat at a new restaurant, and you wake up in the middle of the night having some major intestinal issues, like “coming out both ends” intestinal issues, and by 9 a.m. tomorrow, you can barely pick up your phone to call in sick, let alone stop vomiting long enough to speak to your boss.

In this hypothetical situation in which you’re excreting liquids rather violently through multiple orifices with no sign of it letting up before the work day is over, do you now “have too much going on at work to miss a day”? Do you “really need to be there” to work on “the big project”? Or are you cool running back and forth from the bathroom, and in between collapsing back into bed exhausted? And when you finally return to work the next day, do you find that to your surprise, things went just fine in your absence?


OK, now let’s look ahead in our work calendar a few weeks, and find a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during which you have no meetings scheduled and no deadlines. Now pretend with me that you are going to have “major intestinal issues” that day, and proactively schedule yourself out of the office. Except by “major intestinal issues,” you mean skiing. Or mountain biking, or nordic skiing, or snowshoeing, or trail running, or whatever it is you’re into. Nature time.

You’re not going to take a sick day*—you’re going to take a vacation day, a single one, right in the middle of the week. You’re not going to buy any plane tickets, or go anywhere exotic, or even take a trip. You’re just going to go do something outside and it is going to be awesome. You can joke to someone on a ski lift that you told your boss you “had a case of powderrhea and couldn’t come into work today,” or “had an appointment to get your face shots.”

Let me tell you a little secret: Your local ski hill, or state park, or trail system is practically empty on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Everyone else is at work. This vacation day you’re taking will be very special because of this. You will have to share with almost no one.

You will also go skiing, because you spent a valuable vacation day to do so. It’s not a weekend day, which you sometimes waste because it’s a free day off. Remember that last Saturday when you thought you might go skiing, but instead you slept in, made a huge breakfast, and then started dabbling with that one house project that ended up requiring six trips to Home Depot and before you knew it the whole day was shot and you never ended up going skiing or mountain biking or whatever? That was bullshit. I mean, yes, you fixed the doorknob or the wainscotting or something like that, but you didn’t go skiing. That will not happen when you use a vacation day to go skiing.

Can’t take a whole day off? Try taking just a morning or an afternoon off. That’s three to five hours out of the office. You would take three to five hours off work to go to the dentist, wouldn’t you? Teeth are important and not something to neglect, but so are your skis and bicycle.

Remember that one Wednesday when you got to work, worked all day, then went home? You know, that one Wednesday. Oh, that’s right, they all kind of bleed together, don’t they?

Now, remember that one Wednesday you skipped work to go skiing?


[*You can take a sick day if you want to, but obviously this is a matter of personal ethics.]

More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.

20 replies on “Should You Take The Day Off Work To Go Skiing?

  • Gramma Samson

    Dude, I take my vacation/sick time during the weekdays all the time to go climb. So worth it… never any crowds. In my opinion, I believe if more folks would consider taking time off to have throughout the normal work weeks, as opposed to clustering fun time around true holiday seasons, we could begin thinning out crowds at the crags, etc…

  • Troy

    My son had the day off from school last week and it was sunny and 70 in the PNW so I came down with the dirt flu.

    We did three hours of trail work and then rode for three. Best Monday in a long time.

  • David Fay

    And because we all know powderrea is highly contagious, it’s important to spread the gift. Spouts of coughing and sneezing leading up to the middle of the week will leave no one confused when everyone in your cubical skips work to hit the slopes. And by slopes I mean stairs to get downstairs to use the bathroom of course!

  • Eric O'Rafferty

    Right on… used to drive up to Tahoe for a powderrhea sick day back in the day. Four hours, give or take each way driving from the Bay Area, seven hours of bathroom and coffee break only skiing.

    Totally worth it!

    Now that I’m a full time dad, I have snippets of time during the week… everything is less crowded. Nice! Even figured out that you can get three nights of camping at JT mid-week March with a month’s notice. The kids and I will enjoy that.

    Love your perspective as always.

  • LBG

    Just don’t be me and call in with a case of powderrhea on a beautiful Flagstaff Tuesday and then slink in to work Wednesday with a violently magenta sun/wind burn in a suspicious inverse-raccoon goggle shape. “Oh, you didn’t see this on Monday? I TOTALLY had this on Monday. Also I brought doughnuts, help yourself!”

  • Pete

    Back when I lived in Delaware, I used to bike White Clay Creek Preserve on a regular basis. But the one day I remember the best is the beautiful April day I called in sick to go biking. Remember every single tiny detail from that occasion, yet other than just being there, I don’t remember any specific details from my other 60-80 rides there.

  • Tanner Jones

    Took your advice. Four and a half hour drive to the slopes from Tucson, left at 4 a.m.; skied all day; drove home to get back by 9 p.m. Completely thrashed for my 8 a.m. lecture the next day. Totally worth it! Thanks man.

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