Why We Plan Our Travel A Year In Advance

It’s no secret that the hubby and I travel…A LOT. And one question I get asked often is “How do you manage to get all that time off work? Do you guys have unlimited vacation days, or what?”

Well the answer is no, neither of us have jobs that afford us with unlimited vacation days. I get 20 days off a year, plus 7 company-designated Holidays. The hubby gets 14 days off a year, 1 floating holiday, plus nine company-designated Holidays.

So how do we mange to travel nearly every month, without quickly exhausting all of our vacation days? The secret lies in solid, advance planning and utilizing weekends and holidays for all they’re worth.

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On last year’s trip to Hawaii we visited Honolulu, Maui, and the Big Island

 

For example, take a look at our upcoming UK/Ireland trip.  The entire length of that trip is 10 days. However, we’ll depart on a Friday, meaning that we’ll maximize our days off by having two weekends fall within the trip proper.  Additionally, we intentionally planned the vacation to fall over a holiday weekend that both of our companies recognize, so that we could save yet another day off. Our 10-day trip now magically requires only 5 vacation days. 

Similarly, next Christmas, we’ll travel to Kansas to visit the hubby’s family (we alternate Christmas locations every other year.) While it’s way too early to even buy our plane tickets for Christmas 2017, we know that our goal will be to use only 3 Vacation days — so, we’ll most likely leave on the 21st and return on the 27th. That’s a full week, 7 days of visiting family, yet because of how the weekend and office holidays line up, it’ll only require us to use 3 vacation days.

So, around November or December of each year, I sit down and plan out exactly when and how we’ll use each and every vacation day we’re allotted. First, I plug in the big, known trips (Ireland/Christmas) and then try to squeeze in 3- and 4-day long weekend trips in the months in between. Weekend camping trips (in which we work a little late Monday-Thursday, to allow us to knock off a couple hours early on Friday to drive out to the campsite) fill out the rest of the calendar, and before you know it we have a celebration nearly every month of the year.

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Camping trips like this year’s to Inks Lake count as travel too!

 

Now I know some of you are saying, “but what about spontaneity?!” And that’s true; this process just gives us a framework, once we see what travel deals become available throughout the year, and/or how work projects shape up, we may shift things around a bit. But the important part, for us, is that we never end up leaving a vacation day on the table.

Why? Well, here’s some stats to convince you.

  • Women who vacation “regularly” are 50% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who vacation “rarely.”
  • People who take all their available vacation days are 6.5% more likely to receive a raise or promotion in the next year than people who don’t use all their vacation.
  • And perhaps most importantly for taking several trips throughout the year? This Dutch study found that planning for and anticipating a vacation actually makes you happier for even longer than returning from a vacation does. So planning several trips throughout the year is a great way to reduce stress and boost happiness!

We couldn’t agree more 🙂

Whitney