If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, we’ve got the perfect one: resolve to use every last drop of your PTO this year.
In 2018, only 45 % of the U.S. workforce used all their paid time off, and that’s a serious problem. We don’t need to lecture—you know how beneficial taking a break from work can be, especially if you use that time to travel.
We understand that PTO is precious, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to get your trips on the books. Use our guide below to help you think strategically when it comes to vacation planning.
Weekends are Bookends
This may seem obvious, but you’ll make the most of your paid time off if you take off on a Friday and then extend the vacation into the following weekend, making for a total of 9-10 days of travel for only five days of PTO. Math is your friend!
Take Advantage of Holiday Days Off
There’s nothing better than a long weekend (or using a national holiday to ease your PTO count). Most people in the U.S. have the below list off, but make note now: Christmas Day and New Years Eve both fall on Fridays in 2020, meaning you could get up to 11 days of travel in for only four days of PTO.
2020 Federal Holidays:
- Wednesday, January 1: New Year’s Day
- Monday, January 20: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Monday, February 17: Washington’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day
- Monday, May 25: Memorial Day
- Friday, July 3: Independence Day
- Monday, September 7: Labor Day
- Monday, October 12: Columbus Day
- Wednesday, November 11: Veterans’ Day
- Thursday, November 26: Thanksgiving Day
- Friday, December 25: Christmas Day
Fly Red Eye
Some travelers are wary of the toll a red eye flight can have on the body, but there are plenty of regimens available to ease the stress. Why waste a day in transit? There’s nothing like waking up in your destination, ready to take on the day.
Make Transit Part of the Journey
If red eyes just aren’t your thing, you can always incorporate more exciting ways to get to your destination that are just as fulfilling as the destination itself—from boat cruises to scenic train rides. This way, you won’t feel like you’re wasting precious PTO on an uncomfortable coach ticket.
Tack on Vacation Days to Business Trips
If you’re lucky enough to get to travel for work, why not make the most of it and tack on a few vacation days if you’re already abroad? While work may not always take you to the world’s most exciting destinations, don’t bemoan the Tampas and Tulsas of the world. These places always have more to them than their convention centers will lead you to believe. You just have to be willing to seek it out.
Take Advantage of Shoulder and Off-Peak Seasons
If the cost of travel restricts your PTO time, consider researching your dream destination’s shoulder or even off-peak seasons. Destinations can be up to 50% cheaper than in their peak seasons, which might allow you to luxuriate just a little bit longer.
Build in Time to Recuperate from Travel
The old maxim of “needing a vacation from your vacation” is real, and can make people with full-time jobs reluctant to travel for extended periods of time for fear of being too exhausted once they come back to the office. If that sounds like you, consider traveling back home on a Saturday in order to have all Sunday to get your life back together and recover from any jet lag you may be experiencing.
Make a “Go Bag”
Sometimes you can’t plan everything (nor should you) and when opportunities to travel just happen come up, imagine how much easier it would be if you could be ready at the drop of a hat? Don’t waste time stressing over what to pack—set aside a weekend bag and fill it with your favorite travel essentials so you can be at-the-ready for your next spontaneous getaway.