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Don't let those last few days go to waste.

Jess McHugh
September 08, 2017

If you're one of the lucky few who didn't blow all of their vacation days within the first few months of the year, or spend your time kicking around the beach this summer, you probably have a few vacation days left in 2017.

For many office workers in the U.S., vacation time expires December 31, and it's either use it, or lose it. U.S. workers left some 662 million vacation days unused in 2016, according to a report by Project: Time Off. To help encourage people to travel and take the time off they've earned, Travel + Leisure has launched “Operation Vacation,” a series of deals on destinations around the world.

There's no need to let vacation time slip away, and whether you have a couple days or an entire week left, use that time to travel instead of running errands, sleeping, or beginning the dreaded march into holiday shopping.

Long Weekend

If you can only take off a half day on Friday and get a jump on your weekend, the good news is that there are still plenty of travel options available withing driving distance of major cities around the country. New Englanders can eat lobster in Portland, Maine or take in a concert in the Berkshires, while West Coast residents can sip wine in Napa Valley or take a hike in Boulder, Colorado.

If you prefer to stay local, think about seeing a new side of your hometown or city by checking out a hike and recharging outdoors.

3 Days

A full three-day weekend gives travelers who plan in advance the chance to get to know a destination. It's best to stick domestic for this short period of time so most of your time will be spent at your destination and not in transit.

Readers voted Charleston the best city in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row, raving about its rich greenery and thriving restaurant scene. Easily accessible from most of the eastern seaboard, it offers small town charm with big city amenities. Bonus: Flights are budget-friendly.

4 Days

Four days is the perfect amount of time to spend in a larger, domestic city. If there's a glaring city missing from your list of places to go, maybe add it on. Sip a craft cocktail in a speakeasy in New York City, or explore some of the new museums opening in Los Angeles.

Foodies can travel to some of the best gourmet festivals in the fall, including the Arkansas Cornbread Festival, the Beignet Festival in Louisiana, or the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta in New Mexico.

5 Days

Take advantage of some of the cheap flight deals to Europe on budget airlines like WOW Air and Norwegian. Watch out for flash sales and you could be jetting off to Iceland or Paris with one-way flights starting as low as $69.

6 Days

The U.S. is covered in beautiful vistas and national parks that many residents never get a chance to see. Whether in Vermont, California, or New York state, there's a beautiful road trip that can be accomplished, usually with time to spare.

7 Days

Autumn is shoulder season in destinations like Bali, Fiji, and Botswana, meaning crowds are fewer and travelers can score great deals. It's one of the best times to go.

8 Days

With eight days, travelers can explore a far-off destination and try something completely new. How about surfing in South Africa or taking an epic hike in South America?

9 Days

With a week and a half of vacation time, travelers can tackle a bucket list trip. Take inspiration from T+L editors' bucket list to plan a dream trip to Patagonia or a week-long retreat in Morocco.

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