Packed Suitcase | 10 Vacation Days: How to Make the Most of Your Time Off
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10 Vacation Days: How to Make the Most of Your Time Off

10 Vacation Days: How to Make the Most of Your Time Off

Originally posted on on 3/28/11:

If you’re reading this right now, chances are you love to travel. It is one of your priorities and part of your daily daydream regiment. However, it’s also pretty likely that you have only 2 weeks of vacation, especially if you’re just starting out in your career.
A mere 10 days.

According to’s 2009 Vacation Deprivation Survey, the average American gets 13 days of vacation time a year.

This puts us in last place amongst our international counterparts. Barely ahead of us is Japan with 15 days, our friendly northern neighbor, Canada, is at 19 days, England’s doing well with 26 days, and France is the clear leader, with a whopping average of 38 days of annual vacation leave a year.

Rather than picking up and moving to France, our challenge as active (yet hardworking) travelers is… how can we fulfill all of our travel aspirations with such a small amount of time, especially when we so often hear the phrase “do it while you’re young” in terms of having an adventure?

I’ve grappled with this very question for years now, and through much trial and error (and wasted vacation days) I’ve figured out a few surefire ways to help you wring every minute out of your annual allotment:

Bring out the pen and paper and PLAN

If you want to make sure that each day really counts, you’re going to have to think ahead and plan your days out carefully.

The best way to do this is to begin each year by writing out a list of all of your available days in the back of your day-planner. This will be your master list so you can always know where you stand, and provide you some inspiration of what you’re looking forward to when you’re in a bit of a vacation dry spell!

Want to plan for a BIG TRIP?

Whether you’ve dreamed of heading to Europe, South America or perhaps even a little farther away, with 10 days of vacation you should be able to take at least one bigger trip a year and a few shorter trips as well.

Try to identify those big trips as early in the year as possible so you can block them off on your list. And if your plans happen to change later in the year and you take less time than planned, than those days become like a bonus. A vacation bonus… the best kind!

Three Cheers for the Holiday Weekend!

If you’re tight on vacay-days, holiday weekends are indisputably the best time to plan for a trip. While you probably will have to pay a little more to travel during these peak times, there’s no better way to maximize your time when you’re running low on vacation inventory.

Let’s say you wanted to take a longer trip to London over Memorial Day weekend. By traveling over a holiday and taking advantage of the book-ended weekends, you would only need to take 4 days off to end up with a 9 day vacation! Not bad, eh?

On the flip side, if you’ve already used up most of your days, then 3-day holiday weekends are the perfect solution to your restless and travel-deprived soul.

However, to make a short trip work effectively, you need to… cut down the travel time!

You don’t have to travel far to have an adventure, and when you are short on time the last thing you should do is to spend your precious time on the road/ in an airport/ lost and in need of directions/ etc…

If you are trying to maximize a 3 or 4 day weekend, skip the time-consuming flights.

Instead, pull out a map and find someplace that appeals to you within a 3-4 hour driving or train range. Chances are there’s an amazing trip option nearby… a lake, a festival, a national park, a beach, a city… whatever your interest may be.

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