According to the most recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, U.S. employees have an average of eight unused vacation days this fall. Not only that, but 38% of workers are expected to lose them completely. While some people don’t know they can use them this late in the year, others are stressed out with work and don’t know if they can take the time away from the office.
“Many workers get caught up in their busy schedules, and before they know it, the year is winding down and they think it’s too late to use their vacation days. The truth is, it’s not too late,” Lesley Trudelle of American Express Travel explained to Gadling. “Others can feel they have too much going on to allow themselves a vacation away from work and everyday life, but it is so important to allow time away from your desk to de-stress.”
In fact, a study done earlier this year showed nearly 60% of workers said losing paid vacation time decreased their well being. Additionally, subjects reported feeling revitalized, energetic and more productive after using their vacation days. If you still have some left, know autumn is a great time to use these unused vacation days.
Why Use Them Now?
Because fall is shoulder season in most places and there are fewer crowds, travelers can take advantage of more deals. It also tends to be less expensive, allowing you to take advantage of luxurious amenities for a discounted price. Weather can be more reliable, with less rain, lower temperatures and less humidity. Although November is still fall, in many places it’s not even considered shoulder season but off-season. This means you’ll enjoy quick service, quieter sightseeing and cheaper travel, many times by hundreds of dollars.How To Make The Most Of Unused Vacation Days
There are a few ways people can really make the most of their unused vacation days. For one, do a bit of research and look for promotions. Generally, the Caribbean is popular due to its reliable more mild weather and sunny days. It’s also much more private during this time, which can be great if you’re looking for a romantic getaway.
Says Trudelle, “The kids are back in school so the beaches are less crowded for fall travelers, plus resorts are offering amazing savings.”
In Europe, places such as Austria and Scotland are also popular for fall, as these two usually expensive destinations drop dramatically in price.
It can also help to be flexible with your travel dates. Of course, depending on your job you may only have a certain amount of leeway. However, if you have the ability to be flexible, check airfare a few days before and after your expected travel dates. Sites like Kayak and Spirit Airlines even show you calendars so you can see how airfare prices differ from day to day. Changing your booking by one day could potentially save you $100 or more.
Additionally, if you’re really stressed and don’t want to leave the office for too long, think about taking a long weekend. You would only have to use two vacation days, and could go to a nearby destination without feeling rushed. For example, if you live on the east coast on the United States, taking a trip to eastern Canada or the Caribbean is quick and easy.
Where To Go?
The study also looked at the most popular destinations for fall travel. While 37% will be traveling domestically, 7% are planning to go abroad. For those traveling internationally, 32% are headed to Europe, while 29% will be heading to the Caribbean. So, where how should you use your unused vacation days?
“A great fall destination can be different for everyone, as a traveler’s individual personality is more apt in determining the experience they are seeking than anything else,” explains Trudelle. “That being said, I’d say if you can find great deals, exciting events and festivals, activities to enjoy the outdoors, or something to see or do that is exclusive to this season, then you’ve found yourself a great spot for a fall getaway.”
Along with the Caribbean and Europe, one popular option is South America, as fall in the United States is summer over there. You can head to the beach in Brazil, enjoy up to 16 hours of daylight in Patagonia or sunny days with no humidity in northern Chile. South Africa also experiences opposite seasons, with their summer running from mid-October to mid-February, although you’ll usually still end up paying less than you would on flights June through August in November. Experience whale season, go turtle tracking, take part in a safari, hike through Table Mountain National Park or just relax at one of the many spas. And for those looking to get away from the warmth and enjoy crisp weather, head to Utah or Colorado for their ski season openings.
If you want to do something fall-inspired, there are a few domestic destinations for U.S. travelers. Head to Napa Valley and experience the tail end of their fall harvest. There are still various events happening in the upcoming weeks, like Flavor! Napa Valley, B Cellars: Harvest Celebration and the Napa Valley Film Festival with wine and food tasting.
In Arizona, the weather cools down dramatically in November but still ranges from around 49 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, depending where you are and what time it is. It’s a great time to explore the Grand Canyon, Oak Green Canyon, Saguaro National Park and other places of natural beauty while not having to deal with unbearable heat. There are also numerous festivals at that time, including the American Heritage Festival, American Indian Heritage Festival, Arizona Wine Growers Festival at The Farm, ArtFest of Scottsdale and more. Click here for a full listing.
And, if you want to get really festive, head to birthplace of Thanksgiving, Plymouth, Massachusetts. You’ll be able to catch the end of the cranberry harvest season and tour some local farms. Additionally, the area is home to many scenic spots like Ellisville Harbor State Park, Pilgrim Memorial State Park and the nearby Ames Nowell State Park. Those interested in history will have much to discover. You can visit The Jabez Howland House, an original 17th-century two-story house where pilgrims once lived, the 1749 Court House and Museum, which is the oldest wooden courthouse and longest used municipal building in America and the Alden House Museum, where you can learn about John Alden and Priscilla Mullins who arrived on the “Mayflower” in 1620. Event-wise, Plymouth has much to offer in November, like all-day tours and tastings at the Mayflower Brewing Company, a delicious journey into the past at Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims, a deeper look at local production with the Cranberry Bog Tour and a parade and feast at America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration.
[Images via Shutterstock]