Still Have Most of Your 2020 Vacation Days? Here's How to Use Them

Don't let your vacation days go to waste this year.

Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

It’s hard to believe we’re over halfway through 2020. At the start of the year, you probably had big travel plans that were quickly halted because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the world begins to open back up, you might be wondering where to go — and how to spend those vacation days you’ve saved up. While some employers allow you to roll over remaining vacation days to the next year, many of us lose those precious unused days. No matter which policy you have, you deserve a break, so it’s time to plan to take your days before the end of the year.

If you want to stay close to home, you can opt to take a day off every week or every other week through the end of the year — use that extra time to rest and recharge or spend time with family. Plan ahead for the holidays and request that time off early, so you know how many days you’ll have to spare through the end of the year. Once you know how many vacation days you’ll have left in 2020, plan a trip using our recommendations, sorted by the amount of time you have left.

2 Days: Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

Aerial view of backyard swimming pool with man swimming

Avid travelers sometimes overlook all that their hometowns have to offer. Use this time to explore a new neighborhood or visit that attraction you always meant to check out. You can create a hotel-inspired atmosphere with plush, resort-like amenities, like cozy robes or luxurious linens, and order takeout from those restaurants you’ve wanted to try. Or, book a room at a local hotel — staying in a different neighborhood can give you a new outlook on your hometown, and the slight change of scenery might be just what you need.

5 Days: Hit the Beach and Soak Up the Sun

Oranjestad cruise harbour on the Tropical Island of Aruba
Mary Baratto/Getty Images

After spending months inside, nothing sounds better than stretching out on the sand or swimming in the ocean. Thankfully, island destinations have started to reopen, welcoming guests back to their sunny shores (with appropriate health and safety precautions in place, of course). Aruba, Barbados, St. Lucia, and Turks and Caicos reopened to tourists this summer, and other islands like Anguilla, voted the top island among the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2020 World’s Best Awards, are set to reopen soon. Book a stay at one of the many incredible resorts and spend your days lounging on the beach, swimming in a pool, or enjoying other on-site amenities.

7 Days: Enjoy a Relaxing Stay at a Luxurious Resort

Blackberry Mountain resort, Tennessee
Ford Yates/Courtesy of Blackberry Mountain

If you’re looking to escape your mundane day-to-day routine and want a serious change of pace, look into a stay at a secluded resort. Delicious dining, expansive amenities, and fun activities for the whole family all in one place make resorts an ideal option for travel right now. Thankfully, Travel + Leisure readers voted on the best resorts across the United States, so you’re never more than a car ride away from a luxurious destination. In the South, you can choose from resorts like Blackberry Mountain, tucked away in the Tennessee mountains, or enjoy the private sandy beaches of Sea Island, Georgia. We’ve rounded up the best resort hotels in the Midwest, Northeast, and West, too, so you can find an option within driving distance. Planning a vacation on a budget? Rent an Airbnb in a scenic location with a pool, and create that resort atmosphere at your rental for less.

10 Days: Explore the Open Roads Near Home

This is a classic view of The Window in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park
Deb Snelson/Getty Images

If lounging at a resort isn’t your style, opt to explore by car — no matter where you live, there’s an amazing road trip near you. East Coasters will want to visit charming northeastern towns on a trip from Acadia National Park in Maine to Boston, or take a scenic drive down from the Outer Banks to Savannah, Georgia, stopping in Charleston along the way. Highway 1 is an iconic drive for those on the West Coast, and 10 days gives you plenty of time to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a leisurely road trip. Check out the Great Lakes on a Midwestern journey, drive through the Pacific Northwest, or head out on the ultimate Colorado road trip — the options are endless.

14 Days: Explore the Country’s Best National Parks on a Southwestern Road Trip

Sunset in Monument Valley, Arizona.
Getty Images

If you’ve barely touched your 2020 vacation days, you might want to plan a big trip before the end of the year. Why not take that time to enjoy some of the country’s most beautiful national parks? RVs are increasingly popular among American travelers, so rent your recreational vehicle of choice and bring back the great American road trip. Explore the American Southwest on a trip through Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and California, passing through national parks like Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Of course, road trips are completely customizable, so you can plan this drive according to your departure city or interests to create an epic, once-in-a-lifetime road trip.

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere.

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