Never heard of it? Neither had I until a few weeks ago, but I LOVE the concept! The goal of National Plan for Vacation Day is to encourage Americans to declare their vacation days for the rest of the year, at the start of the year. Luckily, Alamo Rent A Car has teamed up with Project: Time Off to help promote these efforts, and you can read all about it on The Scenic Route.
Did you know that individuals who plan are more likely to use all their time off, take more vacation days at once, and report greater levels of happiness in every category measured? That makes sense, right? It’s easier to go on a vacation if it’s already planned. If my family left all our trips to the last minute, we’d never go anywhere. And that’s unacceptable!
As some added encouragement to plan ahead, Alamo is offering 10% off base rates of weekly Alamo Rent A Car rentals for trips between March 1 and August 30, 2018. This is a limited time offer, so be sure to book your rental by February 6, 2018, to take advantage of the deal!
Vacation Days: Use Them or Lose Them
It’s no secret that stress wrecks havoc on our minds and bodies. One way to combat this is to take time off of work. That’s why it’s so surprising that so many Americans don’t use their vacation days. It’s one way that workers can invest in their health.
At my last job, I worked at a private school where vacation days didn’t roll over to the next year. That meant a lot of staff members panicked at the end of the fiscal year and took last minute vacations. In order to not pay an arm and a leg, some of them went to destinations that were inexpensive rather than places they actually wanted to go. This is why it’s so important to start plotting out your vacations now. Plus, it gives you time to find good deals for your dream vacation spots.
In my family, we’re pretty lucky that we don’t need to travel to visit family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. These are very expensive travel periods. But, we know so many families that fly “home” for one or both holidays every year.
If you are one of those families, the first step to planning your vacation days is to deduct the days you’ll need to travel over the holidays. You might want to shift your dates depending on flight costs and availability, which can affect the number of vacation days you’ll take.
Best Places and Times to Travel
One of the key steps to planning out your vacations for the year is to do some research. Figuring out the best time to travel as a family is a great way to start. Then, see if any of those times work for your family and your schedule.
If you have school-aged kids, you may be limited to school vacations, national holidays and summer break. That’s even more reason to plan ahead. Family-oriented destinations like Walt Disney World, Disneyland, LEGOLAND, Universal Studios, Great Wolf Lodge, and cruises can book up quickly.
For those of us with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, we have more flexibility. I’ve really enjoyed being able to take my kids to visit Grandma in Hawaii in September/October because of the great airfare I find. And we’re heading to Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu in February, during their low-season.
Why Your Kids Should Have a Say in Vacation Plans
Last year, we joined friends for a trip to Spain. We explored Madrid and Barcelona with them before heading off to Paris. Before our trip, I found a little guidebook geared toward kid activities in Paris. It was meant for parents to read, but my preschooler loved to thumb through it in the car. One day, he started asking me if we were going to see the “little boats in the water.” He showed me a photo of the toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg. So, we added it to our itinerary and it was the BEST activity we did in Paris! He’s also the reason we spent a day at Disneyland Paris!
When kids are part of the vacation planning process, they are more excited about the trip! They are also less likely to melt down or complain during the trip. I mean you will probably still deal with whining, (they are kids, after all) but once you remind them that this trip was THEIR idea, they will get back on board. A fun way to involve kids is by using Alamo’s Vacation Planning Activity Sheets. They are fun worksheets that highlight each family member’s dream vacation destination.
How We’re Spending Vacation Days in 2018
My husband gets 15 days of vacation each year. He works for Boeing and he gets the “Boeing break” which is the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. They get this break because they work on MLK Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran’s Day. While 15 days seems like a lot, it goes so quickly.
My husband’s family usually does at least one big trip a year. This year, his parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and want to celebrate with the whole family. They are from Hong Kong and there is talk about doing a multi-generational trip there this Christmas. If that’s the case, we’ll need to use some vacation days on either side of my husband’s Boeing Break.
We’re also hoping to take more long weekend trips with the kids. This would involve taking off a Friday or Monday. Our oldest is really into LEGOs right now, so we’re contemplating heading to LEGOLAND in California this Spring or Fall.
While traveling with little kids can be a blast, it’s also a lot of work. This year, my husband and I are making romantic getaways a priority! My Mom lives in Hawaii and when she visits, she always encourages us to take a mini trip somewhere (thanks, Mom!) She texted me a few weeks ago to say she missed the kids and wanted to come visit. We said “Great!” and started debating where to go. We landed on Los Angeles, CA! I’ve never been before and most of the things I’d like to do, like studio tours, require kids to be 12 years or older. We’re doing a Thursday-Sunday trip from Seattle.
I’m also traveling to Quebec City in Canada for the Women in Travel Summit this May. Since I’ll already be on that end of the continent, my husband is going to fly and meet me in New York City! We’re planning to spend 4 or 5 days exploring NYC without kids in tow.
Trips with Friends
Something that is also important to us is spending time maintaining our friendships. We’re hoping to plan a couple of weekend trips this summer with some of our friends with kids. Last year, he took off 2 days so we could join another family for a 4-day weekend at Seabrook, WA. My husband will be taking off a Friday so we can make the most of our local weekend trips.
Since I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I have to be creative with taking trips with friends without my family. I’m lucky that my Mom is usually excited to fly up to stay with the kids while my husband is at work. That’s how I was able to head to Portland, Oregon for a Mom’s getaway. Last year, I was able to do a nanny share for 2 days so I could do a press trip to Astoria, Oregon. Those were such great experiences for self-care and reflection that I’m starting to strategize how to incorporate a few into 2018.
My husband also usually does a trip with his fraternity brothers at some point. Sometimes it’s their annual golf trip at Myrtle Beach, San Diego, Nashville, or Arizona. But last year, he got to go to India for their Holi festival with his college friend! That was quite a memorable adventure for them and he’s planning to save some vacation days each year to do more adventures with his friends.