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You only have how many vacay days?: How to make the most of 10 days off a year

Love to travel, but need to work to fuel your wanderlust? You’re not alone. But what do you do when there doesn’t seem to be enough vacation days to accommodate all your travel plans?

The number of vacation days afforded workers in the U.S. varies by job type and industry, but the average number of vacation days is 10, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

While some are eager to take time off, many workers are forfeiting their vacation days by not using them (an average of 1.6 days per employee in 2013), according to Project: Time Off, the U.S. Travel Association‘s research-driven initiative to show the benefits of taking time off. The value of these unclaimed vacation days totals $52.4 billion in forfeited benefits.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take our advice — don’t only use all of your days but make the very most of them. Here’s how to take at least eight vacations on up to four continents by using only 10 vacation days.

Work around weekends

Malcesine, Veneto, Italy

Book some sun and fun with your vacation days. (Image: amira_a, una vacanza via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Tack on one or two vacations days to the two days you already get off for the weekend and you instantly have a four- or five-day vacation. It’s easy to plan a quick trip to the Caribbean or Europe. Many destinations in the Caribbean, like Aruba and Grand Cayman, and Europe, like Amsterdam, Brussels, and Lisbon, are easily explored in three days.

Vacation Days Used = 1
Vacation Days Remaining = 9
Level of Difficulty = ✈

Search for flights to Amsterdam

Fly overnight

Save yourself the expense of one night’s accommodation and be an economizer of time by booking an overnight flight. You can leave on a Thursday night flight and, if you are able to get some sleep on the plane, you will arrive at your destination Friday morning, rested and ready to go.

Vacation Days Used = 0
Vacation Days Remaining = 9
Level of Difficulty = ✈

Don’t hold back on the holidays

Shanghai

Hit the road during the holidays. (Image: Kamal Zharif Kamaludin, Family vacation: Shanghai via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

If you want to go to a far-flung locale, you will need more than a couple of days off. Take advantage of national holidays, which create three-day weekends. Book your trip around Labor Day or Memorial Day – times when it’s shoulder season in many parts of the world and most children are still in school.

Vacation Days Used = 1
Vacation Days Remaining = 8
Level of Difficulty ✈✈

Add extra days to a business trip

If your job requires frequent travel or even a trip once a year, consider adding a weekend stay for a quick getaway. Not only do you get a two-day vacation, but you are also already there courtesy of your company.

Vacation Days Used = 0
Vacation Days Remaining = 8
Level of Difficulty = ✈✈

Go around the world around the holidays

Plan ahead and book an excursion to Asia or Africa around national holidays like New Year’s Day. You will only have to take four days off for a nine-day sojourn.

Vacation Days Used = 4
Vacation Days Remaining = 4
Level of Difficulty = ✈✈✈

Forgo time zone changes

If you live in the U.S. but want to travel abroad, head to South America, which has the same time zones as the U.S. Take two or three days off and, combined with a regular weekend or holiday weekend, you will have four to six days to explore the Amazon in Brazil or Machu Picchu in Peru without wasting time on getting over jet lag.

Vacation Days Used = 3
Vacation Days Remaining = 1
Level of Difficulty = ✈✈

Take a staycation

NYC

Enjoy the bright lights of the big city. (Image: WOW TRAVEL, Good night Manhattan via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Live near a theme park or the beach? Act like a tourist and check-in to a hotel after work on Friday. Take advantage of reduced hotel rates in large cities that entice guests to stay over the weekend after all the business travelers have gone home. Enjoy the spa, soak up the sun by the pool, indulge in a fancy meal and visit local sights like museums.

Or…you can be a couch potato and binge watch TV shows and order take-out. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

Vacation Days Used = 0
Vacation Days Remaining = 1
Level of Difficulty = ✈

Travel on the weekends

This might seem like a no-brainer, but weekend getaways to cities near your home can be just as satisfying as longer trips. Driving four hours away or taking a short budget flight after work on Friday night can have you in your destination city enjoying the nightlife just after dinnertime.

Vacation Days Used = 0
Vacation Days Remaining = 1
Level of Difficulty = ✈

Make your weekend getaway last longer

Beach

Won’t you stay just a little bit longer? (Image: Boudewijn Berends, Vacation Texel 2012 via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Leave no vacation day unused! Add an extra day to any of the trips above or take an extra three-day impromptu weekend trip (because who can really pass up last minute travel deals to sunny destinations when it’s snowing outside?).

Vacation Days Used = 1
Vacation Days Remaining = 0
Level of Difficulty = ✈

 

(Main Image: Tiago, 5am Rise and Shine via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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