Pink-Slip Trips: Get Laid Off, Go on Vacation

Pink-Slip Trips: Get Laid Off, Go on Vacation

When Megan Maciejowski was laid off from her job at an investment bank at
the end of 2008, she cleaned out her desk, retreated to her Venice Beach,
Calif., apartment and started sprucing up her resume. Then the 33-year-old
set aside some of her severance package and arranged to spend February in
artsy San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her goals for the trip were simple: to
take an immersive Spanish class, do some painting, experience a new culture
and generally relax. Says the self-described Blackberry addict: “I needed to
get away to disconnect, recharge and regroup for the next step.” The price
tag, including airfare and all meals: $1,200.

Despite the grim employment outlook, Maciejowski isn’t the only white-collar
worker to respond to lay-offs by planning a vacation; across the country
recently unemployed white-collar workers are taking similar pink-slip trips
to places near and far. Some are like Maciejowski, hoping travel will help
her clear her head and plan her next career move. Others are simply trying
to escape the harsh realities of job hunting. “After weeks upon weeks of
searching job boards for that next great gig, it is nice to just take off
and forget about everything for a few days,” says Erik Moser, 26, who in
March went on a weeklong ski trip in Colorado after getting laid off in
January from his public-relations job in Chicago.

Not surprisingly, the already battered travel industry is eager to
capitalize on the trend. Carroll Rheem, director of research at
PhoCusWright, a consulting firm in Sherman, Conn., that follows the travel
sector, says pink-slip trips are particularly common among those who receive
sizable severance packages — i.e., the lawyers and Wall Street types who
are confident they’ll find another job soon enough. “If they have the time
and they have the money, people are stepping back after a lay-off and
thinking, ‘Hey, why not” she says.

But knowing that most of out-of-work travellers will be particularly
price-sensitive, some companies have crafted special offers for the newly
unemployed. Intrepid Travel, an Australian tour operator with U.S.
headquarters in Boulder, Colo., recently launched a promotion dubbed “Laid
Off Take Off,” through which customers who provide letters stating that
their jobs have been terminated within the last calendar year get 15% off
trips to a variety of destinations.

Tiffany Richards, the company’s president, says that roughly 30 of the
firm’s 1,200 bookings since January have taken advantage of this promotion.
She adds that the discount brings the price of a 15-day trip to Morocco to
$722.50 from $850, not including airfare. “For people who are in between
jobs and maybe a little nervous about money, this kind of savings could be
the difference between staying home and getting to see the world,” she

But no matter where you go, it’s hard to forget about the uncertainty
waiting for you back home. Maciejowski says she thought about her impending
job search from time to time in Mexico, and Moser spent his ski trip
checking his e-mail repeatedly for job leads and missives from

He says that on one “particularly stressful” afternoon, he had to piece
together a resume and cover letter on a cousin’s iPhone. “I didn’t bring any
of my files with me, but when this recruiter got in touch, I dropped
everything and used this tiny device to recreate what he wanted,” he notes.
“Needless to say, I didn’t get that job, and didn’t hear back from that
ever again.”

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