Alamo rent a carNational Plan for Vacation Day is January 30

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

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are great places to plan a vacation for 2018
We used up the rest of my husband’s vacation days for our first trip to Disneyland two years ago! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

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.

Holiday Travel

Pike Place Market is one of our favorite places to celebrate the holidays in Seattle.
One of our holiday traditions is to spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Downtown Seattle soaking up the holiday festivities! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

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.

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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

Toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg
One of our favorite memories of our trip was getting to play with the vintage toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

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.

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Family Trips

LEGOLAND California is a great spot for a family vacation
LEGOLAND California is somewhere we’d like to visit this year with our young kids.

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.

Romantic Getaways

Hollywood sign is a top attraction in Los Angeles, CA and makes a great vacation destination
I’m really excited to do some studio tours on our trip to Los Angeles because I’m a TV enthusiast!

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

The Holi Festival in India is a big draw for professional and amateur photographers
My husband had an opportunity to travel to India with his buddy to experience their world famous Holi Festival! Photo credit: George Hamilton

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.

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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.

So, where are you going in 2018?

Family Travel is important, which is why you need to plan all your vacation days

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

34 Comments

  1. My husband and I are trying really hard to plan our vacations better this year. Because when we wait till the last minute we usually don’t end up going. Our 20th wedding anniversary is this summer so working on those plans. Great post.

  2. I would want to travel during the times that everyone else is working – I am not a fan of crowds, what so ever and flights/hotels are so much cheaper at those points. Luckily, I work for myself so I really can declare when we travel for holidays at any point! 😉

    • marciecheung Reply

      Working for yourself has some major perks! We’re trying to do as much as we can off-season before our kids start school!

  3. Oh my goodness what a perfect day to start planning a holiday on! I’m not sure where I would love to go this year, but I feel like I need to make big plans!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you do make some big plans and even greater memories!

  4. I love Alamo’s Vacation Planning Activity Sheets. I’d never heard of them before. They are perfect for my family. Thanks!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, aren’t they helpful for families with young children?

  5. Jennifer Rollins Reply

    My husband, kids and I are planning a trip to Wisconsin this summer. We are hoping to hit of the Dells while we are there.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh what a great time to spend with your family! I haven’t been to Wisconsin yet!

  6. I am so ready for the winter to be over and for vacation time to be here. The cold weather in Illinois is welcome when it comes but by time warm weather is here we are done with the cold and ready to relax a bit.

    • marciecheung Reply

      We’re also ready for some sunshine and clear days!

  7. I like travelling very much! I love Alamo’s Vacation Planning Activity Sheets. I’d never heard of them before. Good post.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hadn’t heard about them until I started exploring their website. Such a cool way to involve kids!

  8. This thought is perfect, declare your family vacations. Although planning is difficult as you have to take care about your kid’s study. I love your idea to ask about your kid’s interest.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, once kids are old enough, definitely involve them in the planning process!

  9. This is so cool concept!! I love the way you script everything!! This idea definitely bring changes into Americans vacation plan! We are packing our bags for disneyland paris our 1st vacation

  10. Marissa Zurfluh Reply

    I have a trip to Cancun planned out this year. I am so looking forward to it!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh fun! I still haven’t been to Mexico, can you believe it?

  11. This is such a good idea! I always try to plan my holidays and never get round to it but these are some great ideas plus it must give you something to look forward to.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I try to have something fun planned for each season!

  12. Honestly, I cannot tell you the last time my husband and I went on a vacation. When he worked outside of the home we never seemed to be able to afford to take off and have a sitter for our dogs. Now that he works from home with me we still haven’t seemed to figure that out but we do talk about it. I love all of your ideas and will be jotting them down for when we can plan.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Sounds like you are overdue! Find a dog-friendly resort and go!

  13. I didn’t even know that there was a day like that. I haven’t made any plans for a vacation yet but that is how I normally go. I plan at the last minute.

    • marciecheung Reply

      That’s awesome that you are able to plan last minute!

  14. I had no idea it was a National Plan for Vacation Day! How fun! Coincidentally we did spend the day planning our next vacation! haha!

    • marciecheung Reply

      That’s so awesome! It’s perfect timing to start plotting an adventure!

  15. We really need to vacation more! These pictures look absolutely amazing. Had no idea that day even existed

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, going on vacation is a great way for families to bond!

  16. Keki Cannon Reply

    looks like a great experience for the family and I know the kids will always remember it, I look forward to some kid friendly trips this summer too.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I love traveling with kids in the summer! Everything feels more exciting since it’s lighter later!

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