How to Maximize Your Vacation Time Using Federal Holidays

If your employer only gives you 2-3 weeks of vacation time each year, you’re in good company. The average American employee receives a mere 10 days of paid time off (PTO) each year (compared to Europeans who receive a minimum of 20 days, and even up to 30 in some countries!).

Therefore, maximizing your vacation time is essential!

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Taking into account other life events, like weddings and family reunions, and your days for a true, life-changing travel experience are whittled down to a minimum.

But by using Federal Holidays to your advantage, and choosing the right destination, you can still cross items off your Bucket List in just a few days.

It just takes a bit of advanced planning and creative thinking.

Keep it close to home.

Unfortunately, an African safari or a far-flung trip to Southeast Asia isn’t a great idea for a quick getaway (but it IS possible! More on that below). Flights to these locations are long and often require flight connections.

Instead, consider places that are relatively close to your home airport and that require few, if any, connections (a cancelled flight or a delay can seriously throw a wrench into your plans!).

Machu Picchu, for example, is an easy connection through Lima, which is a mere 5.5 hours from Miami. The same goes for the Galapagos Islands via Quito, Ecuador, from Houston. Lured by the ethereal Northern Lights in Iceland? Reykjavik is only a 6-hour non-stop flight from NYC, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

Consider the day on which a holiday lands

It also helps to “bookend” your week with the weekends on either side, and you’ll get bonus points if the holiday lands on the Friday before or the Monday after (meaning you’ll get 10 days of time away from the office).

But for a longer-haul vacation, look for holidays that fall on a Tuesday or Thursday. Often, employers will give you that Monday or Friday as a token of their appreciation. At the very least, it will be more likely for your boss to approve a longer time-off request if that Monday or Friday is a “throwaway” where employees are likely to be less-productive (and very un-excited to be at work!).

In 2017, these holidays include Independence Day (July 4) and, of course, Thanksgiving, which always falls on a Thursday. In 2018, you’ll find the Fourth of July is on a Wednesday and Christmas, which lands on a Tuesday.

A two- or three-week vacation IS possible!

Speaking of Christmas, this is the “holy grail” of holidays. Many organizations close their offices the week of Christmas leading into New Year's Day. Which, depending on the employer’s generosity and the day on which the holiday lands, you may receive between 5 and upwards of 10 paid days off!

For those longer trips, like an African safari, exploring Ankor Wat in Cambodia, or wondering What the Hell Happened on Easter Island, you may be able to request a longer trip by using the two calendar years. Sure, it’s a risky move, but if it’s a slow time of the year for your business, it may be possible to take a week of PTO during the last week of the calendar year and another week of PTO from the next year back-to-back. At the very least, it never hurts to ask.

It all starts with a plan...

Start planning NOW for your 2018 vacation time! Click the button below to grab a copy of the IntroverTravels 2018 US Federal Holiday calendar to see how you can implement these ideas to maximize your vacation time and cross an item off your own bucket list.

Jacob Marek IntroverTravels Founder & Chief Explorer

Hi, I'm Jacob.

Inspired by a solo hiking trip in southern Utah, I left a career in finance to pursue a life of travel, adventure, and nature. As Founder and Chief Explorer of IntroverTravels, I build my online travel agency remotely from unique, off-the-beaten-path locations around the globe, and I use that experience to help you plan you own life-changing travel experience.

Ready to take the first step in planning a life-changing travel experience? Fill out a travel profile to schedule a free consultation!

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