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How to Stretch (and Maximize) Vacation Days

Making travel a priority

An astounding 91% of us wish we traveled more, according to a Globus survey of 3,382 people. Sadly, many North Americans have only 10 business days – 2 weeks – vacation time each year. Work, family, life – it all takes time – and travel is often the first sacrifice when life gets busy, despite our travel dreams.

courtesy globusjourneys.comBut is there a way to squeeze more travel time into an already packed schedule?

Finding more time to travel begins with learning to sidestep preventable travel slow-downs and then coaxing more joy of your available vacation days. With a little pre-planning, 10 days of vacation can turn into a 16-day adventure that allows you to satiate your wanderlust. For a little while at least.

Follow these steps to stretching out your vacation days.

1. Decide what kind of vacation you want

Do you like a park-yourself-on-the-beach kind of vacation or are you all about the exploring? Do you enjoy wandering through museums or prefer to spend your time exploring outdoors? Maybe you live for spa vacations, family ski holidays or getaways planned around sporting events. Hone on your vacation preferences and then spend time mapping out the bigger must-do or must-see’s when you’re booking your flight.

2. Build the structure of your vacation from home

plan ahead to make vacation memoriesI’m a big believer in serendipity when I’m traveling and like to keep schedules on the looser side. But I’m also a big believer in not wasting time on things that can be done from home. If you’re planning a touring vacation, research what areas of the city/beach/markets you’ll visit ahead of time, which will allow you to scope out where to stay. Instead of squandering time trying to find a hotel when you land, you’ll be able to dive deep and experience the flavor of the area you’re visiting.

If you’re traveling somewhere exotic or exploring a new city, book your hotel based on what areas of the city you want to experience. In Rome, for example, we wanted a hotel in the ancient Roman city, walking distance to the Pantheon and Coliseum. While wanted to visit Vatican City, we planned a separate day-trip there.

Beach vacations are super simple – once you’ve picked your beach, the resort choice is a logical next step.

3. Travel during the holidays

Holiday travel can be busy but it’s also a great way to add a few extra days onto your vacation. If you get 2 days off work for Christmas in 2015, leave the evening of the 23rd, take the following week – which includes New Year’s Day that can be tacked onto the following Monday (Jan 4th). Suddenly, you’ve turned a 1-week vacation into 11 blissful days out of the office. Sweet, right?

4. Be flexible

take those extra moments ...Being willing to travel on holidays is a good first step but traveling on off-days – like Wednesday, for example – or taking a red-eye or an insanely early flight can do add time to your schedule too. When we flew to Europe for our 2-week vacation, we added touring time by flying a red-eye on Friday night. Because of the time change, we arrived mid-morning on Saturday and had the afternoon to explore. We were tired but we powered through and found that one good night’s sleep was all we needed to catch up.

5. Use time differences to your advantage

Sometimes a time change can be debilitating but if you plan ahead, you can use it to your advantage. On our flight to Rome (east) we gained a couple of valuable exploring hours. If you travel west, you’ll fall behind. If you’re trying to stretch your vacation, hedge your bets to see where you can gain the most time.

6. Volunteer internationally

explore like the localsIf you like to be busy during your vacation, consider a volunteer vacation. There won’t be much sitting around and sipping pretty umbrella drinks but what you lose will be made up in experiences. Shannon O’Donnell, author of the Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook says, “Nearly any type of travel has the ability to transform you-to shift your perspective and call into question many of the things you thought you knew about the world, but it was the time spent slowing down and immersing myself in the new cultures that has had the most profound impact on me.”

7. Explore your hometown

Touring the city you live in can be a refreshing, fun approach to travel. So often we’re focused on getting out there in the world to experience something different that we miss the miracles in our own backyards. I’m always amazed when I travel somewhere new and the locals are bored by (or haven’t even bothered to explore) the very things that drew me to their corner of the world. Sometimes travel can be as simple as a half-hour car ride and that’s pretty darn amazing if you ask me.

Do you love to travel as much as we do? We’d love to hear how you maximize your vacation time and get the most out of your travel. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and let’s talk!

For more information about Globus' "Time to Tour" survey, visit Globus.com.

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