How to Make the Most of Your PTO and Travel More in 2024 (US Edition)

How to Make the Most of Your PTO and Travel More in 2024 (US Edition)

Our “new year, new me" sounds a lot more like "New year, new country to travel to!" If you're planning on traveling more in 2024, it’s time to put in your vacation requests to get ahead of the game. So soon, you ask? Absolutely!

As a travel company, we all love traveling (duh!), and most of us have already made travel plans for the first half of the year. Luckily, we can travel anytime since we work remotely - just turn off the camera or use a filter - how would they know? (just kidding! We're pretty open about our travels). 

But that's not the case for everyone. So, we’ve come up with a plan to maximize your paid time off (PTO) by taking days off before and after the federal holidays. That way, you can tick off multiple countries from your bucket list this year, even if you’ve only got a few weeks to play with. 

How it works:

We’ll be working with the calendar below: 

  • Federal holidays are marked in green.
  • Days you need to take off work are circled in red. 
  • Weekends are in red font. 

If you've got 15 days of paid time off (PTO), you should focus on the days highlighted in blue. But if you have more vacation days to spare, the orange highlights are for those with 30 days of PTO. If you're somewhere in between, you can choose the 30-day options that work best for you using the 15-day schedule. We've also included a helpful guide on the calendar.

Once you've got your dates sorted, check out the "Where to go" section for some travel suggestions. We've put together domestic travel, short-haul travel (between Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America), and long-haul travel - Europe, Asia, and Africa. So, depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose what works best for you.

Calendar:


Where to go:

We've picked these destinations based on events and weather, so be mindful that you may need to book far in advance to get good rates, as they are most likely peak travel times. 

These are just our suggestions, but hopefully they help kick-start a little travel inspiration for you this year!

January 12th - 15th (MLK Day)

Domestic: Atlanta, Detroit, or Park City, Utah

Short-haul: The Caribbean

For a quick getaway, visit Atlanta to explore the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. or Detroit to check out civil rights landmarks - just be sure to bring a coat as Detroit gets really cold at this time of the year. 

If you're feeling adventurous, Park City, Utah, is perfect for skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding before spring arrives.

Another great option is the Caribbean, since the weather is still good and the holiday crowds have gone back home. So, it's less of a hassle to grab a spot on the beach—just pick an island and take that trip!

February 16th - 19th (President's Day)

Domestic: Washington, D.C., Mount Rushmore

Short-haul: Mexico

Long-haul: Brazil

If you're thinking of catching the President's parade, DC is the obvious choice. But why not switch things up a bit and visit Mt. Rushmore to say hi to the men themselves (well, their giant heads at least). 

For a short-haul trip, February’s lack of rainfall makes it the perfect time to visit smaller cities in Mexico like Queretaro and Morelia (the latter is very pink, but sadly we’re a little too late for a Barbie reference). Plus, it's Monarch butterfly season in Michoacanthe (the state where Morelia is located) and Estado de Mexico.

Further away, you can head to Brazil to catch the last (and most exciting) days of the Rio Carnival, which takes place from the 9th to the 17th this year.

March (5-day trip)

Domestic: National Parks

Short-haul: Costa Rica

Long-haul: India or Ireland 

If you've only got 15 days of PTO, March and April don't have any holidays to take advantage of. But you can always swap days from another month if you really want to get away during this time. If you've got 30 days off, you've got up to 5 days (3 days + weekend) to spend between the two months. Here are some options on how to spend it:

You can visit Utah’s Moab Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Zion, and Bryce National Park. These places offer some seriously stunning orange landscapes and hiking trails. If you start anywhere in southern Utah, you can hit most of the parks in 5 days. There might be a little snow left, but it will be way less crowded than other dates.

Costa Rica is another great option for nature lovers, and if you're looking for a retreat x festival -  Envision Festival 2024 takes place between March 4th - 11th.

Even further away, for those looking for a unique cultural experience, you can visit India during the Holi Festival on Mar 25th or celebrate St. Patrick's Day where it all started in Ireland on March 17th. Just keep in mind that you’ll lose at least a day travelling either way, so you really only get 3 days on the ground.

April (5-day trip)

Domestic: California

Short-haul: Central/South America or Bahamas

Long-haul: Amsterdam

No public holidays in April, just like in March, but you're in luck if you've got 30 PTO days and didn't use your 5 days in March. April is great for music festivals like Coachella. 

Alternatively, you can take part in the National Family Island Regatta in the Bahamas from April 23rd - 27th, or go even further out and experience some unique Easter traditions in Central and South America, e.g., Guatemala’s Alfombras.

If you're willing to take an even bigger trip, you can catch Amsterdam's Tulip Festival which takes place from March 21st to May 12th.

May 24th - 27th or 24th - 31st (Memorial Day)

Domestic:  Maryland, Washington DC, or Indianapolis

Short-haul: Caribbean

Long-haul:  Australia, Japan

If you’ve only got 15 days off, you’ll want to stick with the shorter option (24th-27th). That’ll leave you with just enough days to check out the parades in DC if you missed the President's Day parades, or head over to Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland to enjoy some hiking and scenic beauty. And if you’re a racing fan, the Indy 500 takes place on the Sunday before Memorial Day every year in Indianapolis.

For those looking for a Caribbean getaway, here's your last chance to visit before the rainy season kicks in.

If you’re going with the longer option, Down Under, Sydney hosts the Vivid Sydney festival from May 24 to June 15. It's an all-encompassing festival (light shows, music, food, and more) or take a trip to Japan just after the cherry blossoms season. It’s just before the summer crowds pour in, and if you’re lucky you may still find some trees in bloom.

June 19th - 23rd (Juneteenth)

Domestic: Philadelphia or Washington

Short-haul: Colombia or Canadian Rockies

Long-haul: Copenhagen

Philadelphia throws an awesome Juneteenth Parade & Festival every year. The parade starts in West Philly and goes all the way to Malcolm X Park for the festival. 

If you're into whale watching, then check out the San Juan Islands in Washington state. They're our top pick, but there are other cool places like Alaska or Massachusetts where you can spot these giant creatures, too. If you're more into mountains and nature, now’s the best time to visit the Canadian Rockies, or for something a little more tropical, jet over to Colombia. 

And if you're looking to take on a short European trip, Copenhagen is a great one for summer. You can cruise through the canals, drink craft beer outside, and sip coffee by the sea, all before the summer crowds take over.

July 4th - 8th (Independence Day)

Domestic: Milwaukee or Oregon

Short-haul: Peru

Long-haul: Scotland, Kenya, or Iceland

Celebrate Independence Day by attending the last leg of Milwaukee's Summerfest on July 4th-6th or the Bend Summer Festival on July 7th-9th in Oregon. Or, if you're not into festivals, you can always check out the Oregon Badlands which are perfect for hiking and exploring state parks. Plus, it's just a day trip away from Crater Lake National Park and even Mt. Hood.

Or take a short trip to Peru - it's high season and there'll be a lot to do. You can go hiking on the ancient Inca road, horse racing on the grassland, volcano climbing, mountain riding, and tons more. 

If you'd like to use your other days off to make this a long vacation, you have lots of options: Scotland's Luss Highland Games on the banks of Loch Lomond, Kenya's Maasai Migration, and Iceland's midnight sun.

August/September 30th August-2nd September or 29th August-6th September (Labor Day)

Domestic: Nevada, Kansas

Short-haul: Bonaire or Belize

Long-haul: The Azores

There are two options this month: a short vacation from August 30th to September 2nd, or a longer one from August 29th to September 6th (for those with more PTO). Both options let you experience the latter half of the Burning Man festival in Nevada (from August 25th to September 2nd) or the Sunflower Festival in Kansas, which runs from August 19th to September 9th. 

If you're looking for a quick trip beyond the borders, consider Bonaire or Belize. Bonaire is one of the "ABC" islands, which aren’t in the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, making it perfect for an early-September getaway. Belize, on the other hand, has ancient Mayan ruins, tropical rainforests, and the world's second-largest barrier reef.

The Azores in the Atlantic has almost perfect weather in September, with temperatures averaging in the mid-70s during the day. You can take the time to enjoy the hot springs, stunning waterfalls, lagoons, and volcanic craters. It's also one of the best places in the world for whale and dolphin watching.

October 12th - 14th or 11th - 14th (Columbus/Indigenous People's Day)

Domestic: Vermont or Miami

Short-haul: Amazon

Long-haul: Chile

Fall is an awesome time to hit up New England, especially Stowe Vermont for some gondola rides and to soak in the fall colors. Or if you're looking for some more action, you can always head down to Miami for some carnival fun that's a bit closer to home.

For short-haul trips, most of the Caribbean is still in the rainy/hurricane season. But, if you move further south, its one of the last great months of the year to visit the Amazon

If you'd like somewhere in its shoulder season, the Atacama Desert in Chile has fewer tourists during this period, so you can really enjoy the silence and stillness of the desert while de-stressing in a hot spring.

November 9th - 11th (Veterans Day)

Domestic: San Diego or San Antonio

Short-haul: Barbados

Long-haul: European Christmas markets

For those looking to celebrate Veterans Day, San Diego or San Antonio can be great choices. They’re both known for being big veteran towns, and they have a lot of fun activities to celebrate national heroes. San Diego, in particular, has several attractions nearby, like the USS Midway, Air & Space Museum, and March Airfield Base. Plus, both cities have warm weather all year long, which makes them a perfect spot for a fall getaway.

If you want a short-haul trip, Barbados is worth considering. The hurricane season is tapering off at this point, though you may still experience some light showers. But hey, every weekend is a party at Oistins Fish Fry.

Is it a good idea to take a trip to Europe in just 3 days? Nope, but it's definitely possible! If you live in the northeast, you can get tons of direct flights for cheap. Members of Jack’s Flight Club may have spotted some tempting non-stop $250 round-trip tickets all the way across the Atlantic in the recent past.

If you can manage to take some time off (and maybe add in some sick days…, *cough cough*), Vienna starts off their Christmas markets a little early.

November 28th - December 1st (Thanksgiving)

Domestic:  National Parks 

Short-haul:  US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico 

Long-haul: European Christmas markets 

Thanksgiving usually means staying home with your family, but if you're feeling like you need a break from all the turkey and stuffing, why not check out some national parks nearby? They're free on holidays and can be a great option for a staycation. 

White Sands in New Mexico and Great Sand Dunes in Colorado are good choices. Or, you could head to the Mojave or southern Arizona, like Saguaro, Joshua Tree, or Death Valley. They might not be totally empty, but they're definitely not as crowded as places like Zion or the Grand Canyon.

If you're looking to venture beyond the mainland, consider a trip to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. These destinations are perfect for a quick getaway, as you don't need a passport to visit. Plus, the rainy season has typically dialed back by this time of year.

Just like above, we wouldn't recommend a trip to Europe with just three days to spare, but it is doable, and this is another great time to explore the Christmas markets in Prague, Tallinn, Riga and Krakow.

December 21st - 29th or 21st - 31st (Christmas)

Domestic: Hawaii, New York

Short haul: Panama, Curaçao

Long-haul: Australia, South Africa, Europe

We’re finally here: the last month of the year. That in itself deserves a little R & R. If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, New York is pretty awesome, with ice skating in Central Park and watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve. But if you're looking to swap the cold weather for a warm beach, Hawaii is a great option. 

For a short-haul trip, Panama or Curaçao are both festive and lively during this time of year, with plenty of opportunities to celebrate and chill. 

And for those of you looking for a long-haul adventure, Australia and South Africa both offer warm weather and plenty of beautiful sights to explore. Or, you can opt for a white Christmas in the Swiss Alp, specifically the  Zermatt, St. Moritz, or Jungfrau Region.

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We hope this guide helps you out in planning your travels for 2024. By being smart and taking advantage of federal holidays to strategically plan your time off, you can hit up multiple countries and check off some destinations from your bucket list this year without burning through so many days. 

Just remember, these are only suggestions, so feel free to make them your own depending on your preferences and budget. With a little planning, creativity, and a whole lot of wanderlust, you can make 2024 your year of adventure and exploration :-)

Happy travels!