These companies offer paid vacation ... and pay for your vacation

These are the best places to visit in 2016
These are the best places to visit in 2016

U.S. workers have become notoriously bad about taking all their paid vacation days.

But some employers have sweetened the pot to encourage their staff to not only take their time but often expand their horizons, too.

Roughly 3% of employers offer their staff a "vacation stipend" on top of their regular pay when they take time off, according to a 2016 benefits survey from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The stipend can come in the form of cold hard cash or direct reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses.

Either way, consider your vacation subsidized.

Here are 7 companies that offer this rare but very attractive perk:

Afar Media

Online travel site Afar Media gives employees up to $2,000 a year for their domestic or international trips.

The only requirement: Employees must have worked at the company for at least six months and they must provide photos, essays or other content about their trips for use on the company's site.

Afar Media's vacation policy is fairly generous too. New hires start with 15 days of vacation, in addition to paid holidays. After two years, they may take up to 20 days. In addition, the company closes up shop for a week in the winter, so everyone gets that off, too.

BambooHR

Employees who've worked at software provider BambooHR for at least 6 months enjoy a "paid paid vacation."

The company reimburses them for up to $2,000 a year to help cover the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms and vacation activities such as shows or tours.

"BambooHR strongly believes that taking vacations and getting away from the office from time to time is needed to do great work," a company spokesman said. "But having the money to take a proper one can often be a deterrent."

Employees there get between 15 and 20 vacation days, depending on tenure, plus paid holidays and two personal days.

FullContact

Contact management software maker FullContact offers likely one of the largest stipends out there.

Every year employees get $7,500 to do ... well, whatever they want.

Related: These workplace benefits are slowly fading away

The only restriction, according the company's CFO: "You must disconnect."

For those unfamiliar with the concept, FullContact's site helpfully elaborates. "[Y]ou MUST be off the grid, no emails, no calling work, ABSOLUTELY NO WORK."

The company also insists employees take a minimum of three weeks off every year.

Evernote

Organization app maker Evernote wants its employees to take off more than a long weekend here or there.

So it will pay its employees $1,000 a year just so long as they take at least 5 consecutive days off from work.

Everyone who works there is eligible regardless of tenure. And there's no requirement to travel or do anything else specific with their time off once they get the $1,000, said company spokesman Greg Chiemingo.

Well, there is one restriction, he added. Don't contact the office while they're on vacation.

Betabrand

Online clothing site Betabrand offers a most-expenses-paid international trip to a lucky employee or two every month.

To qualify, staff members first must apply to the company's FlyAway Program, detailing where in the world they'd like to go and why.

Based on those entries, executives pick the winning employees, plan and pay for their desired trips and announce the winners at the company's regular all-hands meeting.

The trips are usually scheduled over a weekend, cover airfare and four nights in a hotel. The company chips in two free vacation days. But employees who wish to go away for longer that four nights can draw from their annual bank of 20 paid-time-off days.

Interestingly, the trips are largely paid for with credit card miles earned on the company credit card.

G Adventures

The Canadian small-group travel tours company G Adventures is serious about having its employees experience what the company does.

So it provides full-time employees who've worked there at least a year with a company-subsidized trip every 10 months.

There are 650 different tours that employees may choose from. Company spokesman Kim McCabe, for instance, said she's about to embark on a 14-day trip to Madagascar.

While employees use their vacation time for the trips, the company will absorb costs up to $2,850 in U.S. dollars, including a flight subsidy of about $570.

Airbnb

Travel accommodations site Airbnb wants its employees to take time off but also eat the company's cooking while they're at it.

So in addition to offering at least 15 paid days off, the company gives its employees a $500 credit every quarter that can be applied to their trips if they use Airbnb for their accommodations.

The travel credit may be carried over from quarter to quarter, but employees are encouraged to use up their full allotment every year, not only to use their vacation days but "to stay connected to the Airbnb community."

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