How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Time if You're in the US

You shouldnt have to rush through that book, or leave your natural tan only 80% topped up
You shouldn't have to rush through that book, or leave your natural tan only 80% topped up | Chen Mizrach / Unsplash
Gethin Morgan

Content and CRM Executive

Our time away from work is a precious resource, so we’ve put together a handy guide on how to use public holidays to boost your own adventures.

This article focuses on US public holidays, but we also have guides to making the most of your vacations in the UK, as well as a general worldwide guide to public holidays.

We’ve all been there, desperately trying to juggle paid-holiday days, begging for flexi-time from your boss, or getting in trouble because you forgot to book the day off for your partner’s big birthday celebration.

The truth is we don’t get enough time to do exactly what makes us happy. Most of us are tied to our jobs for long stretches of the year. Even the best work-holiday packages still limit you to a few trips a year, and many jobs are so intensive on individuals that booking an extended period off work can be a logistical nightmare. Have you ever booked two consecutive weeks off? I bet you’ve never done three in a row, unless you went all out on a honeymoon once.

So we’ve been thinking about how Culture Trippers can squeeze that extra bit of joy from their travels by getting the most from their PTO. No more rushing around on your city breaks trying to fit everything in, or ruing the fact you have to leave your sun-glazed pool a day earlier than you’d like.

Less time in front of a laptop, more time exploring the world

The best way to beat the system is simple – use public holidays to your advantage.

Obviously the public holidays you get off work depends very much on who you work for but, generally speaking, most employers offer paid holiday on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day (late May), Independence Day (4 July), Labor Day (early September) and Thanksgiving (late November).

Depending on the generosity of your workplace, you might also get a day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (mid-January), Presidents’ Day (mid-February), Juneteenth (19 June), Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day (early October) and Veterans Day (11 November).

We often treat these just as a bonus day, a rest bite, but why waste these bonus days off when you can use them as a chance to extend your holidays?

Other than fixed-date celebrations, most of these federal holidays are moved to the nearest Monday, in order to create a three-day weekend. So if you work a standard Monday-Friday job – you only need to use five days of PTO to get 10 days off.

While many can’t, or wouldn’t want to, travel during the festive season due to family commitments, it does offer great holiday potential. Two public holidays in the space of a week gives you a lot of wiggle room, even if you’ve only got a few days leave left. In 2021 Christmas and NYD fell on weekends, meaning the federal holidays pushed back into the week, and you got 10 work-free days for just four days PTO.

Enough number crunching, you get the gist. Planning your travels during federal holidays is the way to make your getaway that day or two longer, or even to squeeze in an extra trip each year.

So let’s take a look at which of Culture Trip’s small-group adventures conveniently depart over federal holidays in 2023 and 2024.

Memorial Day 2023 – 29 May

If you fancy booking a last-minute getaway to coincide with the three-day Memorial weekend ending on 29 May, we have three trips that overlap, all of which are also currently discounted.

Two are big European adventures – there’s our Greek Island Odyssey trip, which has a guaranteed departure from 21-28 May, leaving you an extra day to recover from all that feta. Then there’s a Euro-Asian adventure with our 12-day Epic Majestic Turkey trip between 20-31 May, which only requires seven days of PTO.

See the hot-air balloons float over Cappadocia on our Turkey Epic Trip

If you’re looking for something closer to home, more of an extended weekend retreat, then how about our Laid-Back Baja California Sur Mini Trip? If you join us down in Mexico from 25-29 May, you’ll only need to take two days off to enjoy the bohemian beach towns and marine wildlife of this glorious region south of the border.

Juneteenth 2023 – 19 June

Conveniently, 19 June falls on a Monday this year, giving you an extra three-day weekend if your work allows it. One of our most popular trips, the dreamy Seductive Southern Italy, starts on Saturday 10 June and ends on Juneteenth, meaning you only need five days PTO for ten days of classic coastal Italy – now that’s la dolce vita.

Other trips taking place during Juneteenth include Southeast Asian epics like our ultimate detox Blissful Bali trip, and the ultimate jungle adventure in Tropical Northern Thailand.

Expect mountains, jungles and extraordinary temples in rural Northern Thailand

Or, if you’d rather stay on this side of the globe, why not head down to Central America for our Colourful Belize and Guatemala trip? Nine days exploring two of the continent’s most underrated destinations – the pristine beaches of Belize and the incredible volcanic landscapes of Guatemala. If you don’t have much PTO to play with, you can just do the Beachy Belize section, which starts on Juneteenth weekend, so you only need to take two days off!

Independence Day 2023 – 4 July

Don’t have any plans for 4 July weekend this year? Use your bumper weekend to join our guaranteed departure, Epic Morocco extravaganza. We set off on 1 July for an extensive exploration of the gateway to North Africa, taking in the myriad cities of Marrakech, Fes and Chefchaouen, as well as the epic Atlas Mountains and iconic dunes of the Sahara desert. 11 days of adventure for just 6 days PTO!

Also departing on 1 July are all three of our Sailing Trips. So if you fancy getting nautical this July, join us in Breezy Bahamas, Glitzy British Virgin Islands, or Enchanting Greece.

Our Sailing Trips offer a totally different way of seeing the world

Labor Day 2023 – 4 September

We have a whole bunch of exciting departures that cross over with this year’s Labor Day weekend. You could tick off a bucket-list classic with our 10-day Ultimate Egypt trip, which takes you to all the must-visit landmarks and Cairo’s lesser-known gems, before embarking on a luxury cruise down the Nile.

Get really exotic with our 10-day Soulful South Korea itinerary, departing on 27 August and blending the beautiful nation’s unique culture and neon-lit cities with its spectacular natural beauty, from mountains to beaches.

From its cities to its natural landscapes, South Korea is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth

Or how about an early-September escape to Europe? The crowds die down a little but the weather should still be pleasant. Join us in the middle of the ocean on Atlantic Azores, as we explore Portugal’s volcanic archipelago, an incredible adventure playground. Alternatively, you can head over to the UK with Wild Scotland – seven days of island hopping, whiskey tasting and kayaking on the country’s incredible west coast, starting on Labor Day weekend.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2023 (also observed as Columbus Day) – 9 October

Always dreamt of journeying through Europe via train? There’s something so romantic about speeding from city to city from the comfort of your carriage, which is why we made our Berlin to Budapest Rail Trip. Join us on 7 October and spend ten days exploring both cities, as well as stops in Vienna, Prague and Bratislava, all for just five days of precious PTO.

The beautiful city of Budapest is the final call on our Central European tour

We also have departures that weekend for Blissful Bali, Soulful South Korea and Epic Morocco, as well as Ultimate Egypt earlier in the week.

Veterans’ Day 2023 – 10 November

11 November falls on a Saturday this year, meaning that the workplaces offering time off for this federal holiday will start the weekend on Friday 10 November. Start your holiday early and join us on another Rail Trip, since we have departures for the continent-crossing Madrid to Marrakech trip, as well as the country-crossing Thailand to Laos trip, that cross over these dates. You could even join us on our 12-day Japan by Train odyssey, starting on 5 November.

We also have departures for Ultimate Egypt and Epic Morocco that crossover nicely, as well as our All-Action Nepal Epic Trip – will you join us in the Himalayas?

Have you always dreamt of visiting the world’s highest region?

Thanksgiving 2023 – 23 November

If, for any reason, your Thanksgiving plans are non-existent this year then, fear not, Culture Trip is here to take you and a group of like-minded explorers on an adventure!

If you’re looking to really get away then we have two huge Asian trips that run right up to Thanksgiving weekend. First is our 12-day Vibrant Vietnam trip, which explores the joyfully multicolored cultures of Vietnam, stopping off at Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An. The second is Captivating Kerala, a nine-day adventure in India’s glorious southern countryside, which includes a tea plantation trek, a sunset cruise and a traditional cooking class. Delicious.

You could even spend some of Thanksgiving itself with family if you embark on our Dazzling Brazil trip, which starts on 24 November. What better way to spend Thanksgiving weekend than by sunning it up on the beaches of Rio and hanging out with Christ the Redeemer?

Could this view tempt you away from family Thanksgiving?

Christmas 2023

If you’re looking to really get away this Christmas then how about the adventure of a lifetime in Southeast Asia? Our 11-day Sublime Southern Thailand trip starts in Bangkok on 19 December and ends in Phuket, with island adventures, longtail boat rides and a sunset cruise along the way. This year Christmas falls on a Monday, so that’s three free days off right in the middle of our trip.

Get some winter sun this Christmas on Thailand’s pristine coastlines

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article