How I'm Getting the Most Vacation Time Possible in 2018
Or, how to turn 15 days of paid time off into 45 days of travel.
You may not think you have enough vacation time in 2018 to take the trips you want to take.
And, unfortunately, many people in the U.S. do not get paid time off from their employer. Even among those that do, many people don't take all of it (often because of fears about job security). But as we head into a new year, here's a reminder that you need a break. In fact, you need as many breaks as possible.
To get the most travel time possible, I've broken down when to take time off in conjunction with major holidays throughout 2018. By piggybacking on federaly holidays, you can get way more travel time — even with limited time off. So whether you have 10, 15 or 20 paid days off (the average U.S. worker with paid time off takes 16), you'll be able to take more trips. This post is inspired by The Forward Cabin and Smarter Travel.
Since recognized holidays vary by profession, get out your own 2018 work calendar to figure out which days you should skedaddle.
If you have 10 days, turn them into 28
Take either the Friday before or the Tuesday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, on January 15, OR Presidents' Day, on February 19. Your one vacation day will become four travel days.
Take four days during one of the week's where you get Monday off: May 28 for Memorial Day, September 3 for Labor Day, October 8 for Columbus/Indigenous Peoples' Day, or November 12 when Veterans Day is observed in 2018. By taking the rest of the week off, you'll turn four vacation days into nine.
The Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday in 2018, so that means it's unlikely you'll get a four-day weekend off work automatically. Boo. But if you take off either the Monday and Tuesday before, or the Thursday and Friday after, you'll turn those two vacation days into five travel days.
That leaves three more days, to use either the week of Thanksgiving, to get nine travel days, or the week between Christmas and New Year's, to get 10 days (or 11, if you count New Year's Day 2019).
If you have 15 days, turn them into 45
Take the Friday or Monday off around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, on January 15, and Presidents' Day on February 19. That'll turn one vacation day into four travel days — twice.
Take Tuesday through Friday off after Memorial Day, on May 28th, to get nine days for the price of four.
Take two days before or after the Fourth of July, which falls on a Wednesday in 2018. Those two days will get you five days of travel time.
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Take one day around one of the other three-day holiday weekends — Labor Day on September 3, Columbus/Indigenous Peoples' Day on October 8, or Veterans Day, observed on November 12 — and that'll get you four days.
Take the three days before Thanksgiving (assuming you have both Thanksgiving and Black Friday off) to turn three days into nine.
And finally, take three days at the end of the year to turn the Christmas and New Year's break into a 10-day opportunity to see the world — or just spend a bit more time with family.
If you have 20 days, turn them into 58
Start off the year with two four-day weekends, by using a day of vacation the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15), and one more the weekend of Presidents' Day (February 19). That's two four-day weekends for only two vacation days.
Take off the Tuesday through Friday after Memorial Day (May 28), and those four days will get you nine days of travel time.
Take the Monday and Tuesday OR the Thursday and Friday off around the Fourth of July (on a Wednesday this year), and get five days.
Take the four days after Labor Day, which is September 3, and get another nine days to explore the world.
Just like at the beginning of the year, turn both the Columbus Day (October 8) and Veterans Day (November 12) weekends into four-day travel opportunities, and two days becomes eight.
Take the three days before Thanksgiving (November 22 in 2018) off, and the four-day weekend becomes nine days. That's enough to visit family and add a trip on top of it. Consider booking a round-robin plane ticket and check a new destination off your list.
Take the three days Christmas week off, and get 10 days — and maybe book another round-robin (or just use those days to have a leisurely staycation at home after visiting family).
Choose your own adventure
Each of these calendars is, of course, customizable. The goals here are to 1. use your vacation time, 2. take more breaks, and 3. travel more.
Many of us may dream of a weeks-long getaway to French Polynesia, but you don't necessarily need that to recharge (much as I'd also like to be on that beach in Bora Bora right now). In fact, the barriers to planning that dream trip could be high enough that you'll be much better off planning small, budget-friendly, not-that-far-from-home excursions. And I think I read somewhere that frequent smaller breaks are better for us than longer trips, so let's go with it.
If you're doing this math but now wondering how in the world you're going to pay for all of this travel, here's what you should do instead of budgeting.