How does vacation work in the Peace Corps?

Many people imagine that being in the Peace Corps is just two years of wandering the globe, and it typically attracts people who love to travel. In reality, 95% of your service will be spent in the same village or city.

If you have a hard time staying in the same place for too long, Peace Corps service may not be for you. Serving in the Peace Corps is similar to a normal full-time job in that we are given limited vacation days.

If you are interested in how I spent my vacation days while serving in the Peace Corps, check out these posts and pictures from my trips:

Below I’ve listed a few of the most common questions related to travel while in the Peace Corps. Feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments section!

How many vacation days do you receive?

As a Peace Corps Volunteer we are allotted 48 days of leave throughout our 27 months of service. We earn two vacation days per month of service, not counting the three months of training.

When can you use vacation days? Travel periods.png

Volunteers are not allowed to use their vacation days during Pre-Service Training (months 1-3), the first three months at their permanent site (months 4-6), or during the final three months of service (months 25-27).

Depending on your work, there may be additional restrictions. As volunteers in the education sector, we can only use our annual leave during school breaks. For this reason most of us travel during winter break, spring break, or during the summer after our first school year.

In the case of an important event, such as the wedding of an immediate family member, the Country Director may approve travel during the school year. (Hopefully that will be the case with my brother’s wedding in September!)

Do PCVs travel back to the United States?

Yes. I’d estimate that the majority of PCVs travel back home at least once. In our group most volunteers have taken or plan to take one trip back to America during their service. It may be different in other Peace Corps countries, but Kosovo is pretty easy to get to. In the winter months flights are $500-$700 round-trip to many U.S. cities. In the summer the prices go up to $900-$1200.

Can volunteers travel anywhere they want?

No. The Peace Corps restricts travel to some countries based on safety concerns. Examples include Turkey due to recent terrorist attacks.

How does travel approval work?

We must submit a travel request form at least two weeks in advance, although some exceptions are made. This form must list the dates of travel, the cities you are visiting, and must be signed by you and your work supervisor at site, such as the director of your school.

Can volunteers travel within Kosovo as much as they want?

This may be different in other Peace Corps countries, but because Kosovo is so tiny (about the size of Connecticut) we are pretty free to travel within the country.

We are, however, required to notify Peace Corps staff if we are spending a night away from our site. If you spend too much time visiting other volunteers or in the capital, you may receive a warning from staff. Ideally you should not spend more than a couple nights per month away from your village/city.

What about work-related travel or emergencies? 

In September I was asked to be a chaperone for my school’s 12th grade trip to Albania. Because this was with my students and approved by my school director, the Peace Corps counted it as work-related leave. You can read about the trip here: The ugly truth behind a beautiful photo. (Spoiler alert: Traveling with over 100 teenagers and teachers who don’t speak English during my first month at site was a challenge.)

In case of an emergency, such as the death of an immediate family member, the Peace Corps will fly you to the U.S. for up to two weeks of emergency leave.

If you want to read more about the policies related to Peace Corps travel, click on this PDF: Leave Policies for Volunteers and Trainees

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