No matter how many vacation days we get, it’s never enough to fulfill our travel needs. But with a bit of planning, it’s possible to do more with your days off than you might think. Here’s how to make the most out of those precious vacation days.
Time Your Trip to Coincide with Public Holidays
If you can convince your boss to let you take your vacation days on either side of a public holiday, you can make them work harder for you – particularly if you factor in a weekend as well. Flight prices are likely to be higher, but if you book well in advance it’s still possible to snag a fare that doesn’t leave you flat broke. For instance, Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday this year; some organizations in the USA award Christmas Eve as a holiday while in the UK, Boxing Day’s classed as a day off for many. Taking weekends and the New Year’s Day holiday into account, with as few as four vacation days from your allowance you can score eleven whole days off. Just think how far you can go with that!
Schmooze Your Boss
If you travel regularly for business, it might be possible to add on a few days’ vacation time to your work trip. Every company’s policy is different, so be sure to ask what’s permitted. Offer to pay for part of your hotel bill; you’re still getting a good deal if you haven’t had to pay for flights. Don’t push your luck with expenses; remember if it’s a vacation day you shouldn’t expect the company to buy you dinner. If you score an evening off, use it to explore your surroundings. You might also persuade your boss to allow you to book an open flight, where you fly into one city – for work – and then fly home from another you tagged on the end for a spot of sightseeing. You’ll pay your own way when it comes to traveling between them, but it’s a great way of seeing more of a different country.
Fly Early or Late
Though it’s a treat to have all day to pack and get to the airport, in reality that’s a waste of a vacation day. Book the earliest flight of the day on the outbound leg and the last flight home when you return – in one fell swoop you’ve just scored a significant amount more leisure time. Of course, you’ll be a little sleep deprived, so choose activities carefully. You’ll either be so fired up by what you’re doing you won’t even notice you’re tired, or holed up beside the pool having a much needed snooze under an umbrella. The bonus? These unsociable flights tend to be unpopular and consequently prices are often lower.
With limited time in a new place, you want to make the most of your sightseeing time. Do your homework: read travel websites like The Discoverer, join internet travel forums and chat with fellow travelers on social media to ensure you get the lowdown on your chosen destination. Check out transport timetables, secure restaurant reservations, purchase skip-the-line tickets for popular attractions and pre-book excursions to avoid disappointment or unnecessary hanging around. Museums often close on Mondays, for instance, so factor this into your itinerary to make sure you aren’t faced with a locked door.
Stretch the Budget
One of the excuses people find for not taking a vacation is that they can’t afford it, but a lack of cash doesn’t have to scupper your dreams. Challenge yourself to have an incredible time on a tiny budget – there are plenty of ways to make your money go further. Book flights with miles, join hotel loyalty schemes for free nights and actively seek out free attractions or activities once you get to your destination. Don’t be too proud to take a packed lunch for a picnic in a park or book a dorm room in a hostel. Failing that, look at your hometown with fresh eyes and take a staycation. You might just find you enjoy holidaying on the cheap!