It’s a constant struggle in our household. How can we maximize our few days off per year to take the most trips!?
Between work, school, and activities, there’s no doubt about it, making time to travel requires a huge amount of effort and commitment.
Between a husband’s demanding job, two girls in elementary school, and one with a complex set of disabilities, let’s just say that breaking away from our routines to travel is not always so easy.
But where there’s a will, there is a way! And despite the craziness of life, we’ve found plenty of ways to maximize our vacation days and travel as much as possible.
Here’s how to maximize your vacation days in 2024, so you can make this the year you finally take the trip!
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Maximizing Vacation Days in 2024
If you want to maximize your PTO and school vacation days in 2024, the first thing you must do is plan!
Yeah, I know, this may sound too type A for some. But how many times has a long holiday weekend rolled around, you think “we should go somewhere!”, and then have your hopes and dreams crushed by the consequences of your last minute planning: overpriced flights and hotels.
So I’ll say it again: planning ahead is the #1 way to make sure you strategically plan out your vacation days for 2024, leaving no extra days behind.
Need help getting started? Download our free 2024 block calendar! This handy yearly calendar shows you the entire year at a glance (with weekends and holidays included), so you can plan smarter and more efficiently.
Get this and all of our other travel planning printables in our resource library, exclusively for Our Next Adventure subscribers.
Want to maximize your PTO in 2024?
The first place to look is holidays, of course!
But how can we turn holidays into more vacations? Here’s a few examples for 2024:
- New Years Day: December 30-January 2 New Years Day (4 day trip; 1 vacation day)
- Martin Luther King Day: January 12-16 (4 day trip; 1 vacation days)
- President’s Day: February 16-20 (4 day trip; 1 vacation day)
- Memorial Day: May 24-28 (4 day trip, 1 vacation days)
- Independence Day: July 4-8 (5 day trip, 2 vacation days)
- Labor Day: August 31-September 3 (4 day trip, 1 vacation day)
- Columbus Day: October 11-14 (3 day trip, 0 vacation days)
- Veterans Day: November 8-11 (3 day trip, 0 vacation days)
- Thanksgiving: November 28-December 2 (5 day trip, 1-2 vacation days)
- Christmas: December 25-December 29 (5 day trip, 1 vacation day)
Voila! That’s 10 potential trips (or 41 days of travel) using only 10 vacation days off; not too shabby!
If you want to get more bang for your buck, add an extra day or two to the beginning or end of your trip. Flights on Thursday or Tuesday are much more affordable than the popular Friday-Sunday routes.
Now I know what you might be thinking: “But aren’t the holidays meant for spending time with friends and family?”
While I don’t disagree, over the years since the girls have started school and opportunities for travel have lessened, we’ve had to be a little selfish with our travel plans. And while we might not be home for every holiday, we do still try to dedicate at least 2-3 times per year spent with family, making traditions. We find it gives us the best of both worlds – plus spending holidays abroad can be an equally rewarding experience as you learn about how different cultures celebrate!
Maximizing School Holidays for Travel
When it comes to taking the kids out of school, there are plenty of flexible options here too. Using that handy block calendar we created, take note of all the days your kids have off from school, including holidays, teacher in-services, and breaks.
A few tips for maximizing your travel budget during school holidays:
- Spring Break: Instead of your typical resort or theme park vacation, spring break is a fantastic time to take that extended international trip. The weather is mild, flights are cheaper flights and you’ll be bumping elbows with less tourists.
- Summer Break: Summer travel is expensive, but for families with kids in school, it’s also the most realistic. If you’re wanting to go international, plan your trip at the very beginning of summer break: international flights in late May/early June tend to be a lot cheaper than end of July/early August when most families head out for their summer trips. (and yes, you might have to take your kids out of summer sports for a week, but I promise it’ll be worth it!)
- Fall Break: Another favorite time to travel, most school do some sort of Fall Break where you have an extra 2-5 days for travel. Another affordable “shoulder season”, we like to use this time for international travel that’s closer to home (think, Montreal or Mexico City).
- Winter Break: There’s no denying it, winter break is one of the most expensive times of year to fly. So, consider a destination within driving distance to save, or fly during unpopular times like Christmas Day or New Years Day for the best deals.
Stop Overpaying for Flights!
We use Going to help us find the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world, domestic and international. Trust me, the premium membership easily pays for itself after one cheap flight booking!
More Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Vacation Days
Explore Hybrid & Remote Work
If your company has even the slightest possibility for remote work, discuss your desire to travel and work remotely with them now! Since the pandemic, many companies have warmed up to the idea, even if it’s only temporary.
If you’re considering a career change altogether, FlexJobs is a great place to start for fully remote positions.
Independent Study at School
When we moved to our new school district in California, I was extra pleased to find out they offer an “independent study” option for absences of 3 days or more. It’s not something school freely advertise, so be sure to ask if this might be an option for you!
And even if the school doesn’t have a policy like this (yet), you could certainly petition the school to add one, highlighting the educational benefits of your family’s travels. We’ve even had the school principal provide an attendance exception in certain cases.
Minimize Travel Time for Shorter Trips
If you’ve only got 3 to 4 days for a vacation, the last thing you want to do is spend all your time just getting there. For long weekends, consider flying over driving, booking a slightly more expensive non-stop flight, or sticking to destinations closer to home.
Do you plan to travel more in 2024? What tips would you add?