This is how you make the most of your vacation days!

Monthly update November 2019 on sonne-wolken.de
Photo credit: Tatiana Chekryzhova, Shutterstock

“Bye,” I happily swung my bag onto my back and closed the office door behind me. freedom! “Are you on vacation again?” – I can still see the uncomprehending looks of my classmates in my mind. “Where are we going this time?” I could tell by their suspicious expressions that they didn't want to hear the answer.

I know this scene well from my full-time job. But why envy? With a love of travel and a little smart planning, each of them could have experienced the same thing I did. Because instead of just spending my weekends and days off on the couch, I'd rather use my precious free time to try something, try new things and learn about the world (on my doorstep). I'll tell you how to make the most of your vacation days in my “secret recipe” for optimal vacation planning.

Tip #1 – Write a bucket list and prioritize!

Does your list extend three times around the equator? I know that very well! And let me tell you one thing: traveling more doesn't make it shorter, it makes it longer. But travel shouldn't just be about collecting stamps in your passport and checking off bucket lists, it's about special experiences. It is unlikely that I will have traveled to all the travel destinations on my personal bucket list at the end of my life. And that's all well and good. This increases the importance of setting priorities. Does it really have to be a beach holiday in the Maldives or are there no equally beautiful beaches in Greece or Sardinia without having to fly halfway around the world?

Monthly update November 2019 on sonne-wolken.de

Tip #2 – Focus on one big trip a year!

Pick one travel destination that you really want to travel to for a longer period of time next year and focus on that. What's a trip you've always wanted to take? Plan this for two to three weeks – so that you still have enough vacation days left for short trips. As relaxing as a long vacation can be, small breaks from everyday life often help us switch off, leave stress behind, and breathe deeply again. Basically, don't take too much on your big trip! It is better to travel to one region in two weeks than to visit only three countries.

Travel ideas for 2-3 weeks: Island hopping in Greece, St. Lucia, Bali, Panama, Chile, Peru and Mexico

Panama - Vacation Planning 2017: How to Maximize Your Vacation Days!

Tip #3 – Enjoy an exciting adventure every month!

The goal is not to drive as far as possible, but simply to leave everyday life behind and try something new. Weekend hikes in the nearby low mountain range, a short wellness excursion, a weekend in the North Sea, or a city trip to Hamburg – your country can also be an attractive travel destination. You will be surprised how diverse Germany is. Even a day trip to the surrounding area can clear your mind. For example, you could hike in the forest near your home, or take a trip to the next larger city. Spend the night in a wine barrel in the vineyard. Or simply try something new like longboarding, walking barefoot, snowboarding, or snowboarding. You should take at least one day for this every month.

Travel ideas for an adventure at your doorstep: Stand-up paddling for example in the Harz Mountains, a two-day trekking adventure, for example on the Lieserpfad in the Eifel, two-day hikes on the red wine hiking trail through the Ahr valley, on the Ilmtal bike path through the Weimarer Land, and camping in the Schluchsee. Upper Black Forest

Tip #4 – Take advantage of the pre-season!

If you can ever take your vacation: congratulations! You can safely ignore this advice. For anyone else who can only take their main vacation in the summer months, I can definitely recommend June as a travel month. You're one of the first people to enjoy your vacation, and when you come back, you still have the whole of July and August ahead of you – when it's really warm and beautiful in Germany. Many travel destinations in Europe or Southeast Asia are already easy to travel to or are still easy to travel to in June, and flights are relatively inexpensive.

Koh Rong - Vacation Planning 2017: How to Maximize Your Vacation Days!
Koh Rong Island (Cambodia) in June

Tip #5 – Use your bridging days smartly!

Bridge days are pretty much the classic among vacation planning tips, but they're still effective. For example, if you schedule your big trip around Ascension and Pentecost, you could travel 2 1/2 weeks with only 10 days of vacation. But bridging days are also ideal for short trips. It's important to book early – because you're not alone with this idea.

Unfortunately, the holidays of 2020 are quite unfavorable for employees. Many vacation days fall on the weekend. With these transitional days, you can still make the most of your vacation days:

  • Easter 2020: Anyone who takes four days off before or after Easter (April 6-9 and April 14-17) can travel for the full 16 days.
  • 1. May 2020: May 1st falls on a Friday in 2019. Either use the long weekend without extra vacation days or extend the weekend with a day or two of vacation before or after it into a true short vacation of 4-5 days.
  • Ascension Day 2020: Either take Bridge Day on May 22 and enjoy a long weekend, or all week for four days (May 18-20 + 22). Result: nine days off!
  • Pentecost 2020: Monday (June 1st) is a public holiday everywhere in Germany, so everyone can have a long weekend. Or get nine days of travel time with four days off (June 2-5).
  • Corpus Christi 2020: Workers in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland have another bridging day at the weekend: Corpse Day falls on Thursday, June 11.
  • Reform Day 2020: Unfortunately, the holiday falls on a Saturday this year. Unfortunately, the federal states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia do not have the benefit of holidays this year.
  • Halloween 2020: Unfortunately, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia also do not have an extra day off due to the Catholic holiday of All Saints on Sunday 1 November.
  • Christmas 2020: Christmas holidays in 2020 are on Friday, December 25 and Saturday, December 26 – so it's not very convenient either. With four days off (December 24 and 31 count as half days off), you can still enjoy a full 11 vacation days until Sunday, January 3, 2021!

Tip #6 – Be spontaneous!

Always keep at least five days off for spontaneous trips. Spontaneously camping in the North Sea or hiking in the Alps in August? If you plan all your vacation days from the beginning, you'll nip any form of spontaneity in the bud. And sometimes spontaneous trips are simply the best trips.

Baltic Sea - Vacation Planning 2017: How to Maximize Your Vacation Days!
Spontaneously going to the Baltic Sea for the weekend?

Tip #7 – Discover your home country

In addition to the big trip, there should definitely be another bigger trip within Germany and its neighboring countries. If you get five days off, you can travel the full 9 days including weekends (or you can use one of the holidays this way). This gives you the opportunity to get to know the relevant areas better, go on excursions and enjoy nature.

Travel ideas for a week: Black Forest, Harz, Lake Constance, Netherlands, Austria, Poland…

Kayaking in Schluchsee in the Black Forest

Tip No. 8 – Travel in winter!

For many, winter is a time without travel, except for the annual ski holiday. but why? Especially in the winter, I feel an urge to break away from my daily routine and try new things. Especially when there is little snow in Germany, a trip to the Harz, Black Forest or Sauerland is enough to experience a true winter wonderland, to which some even travel to Scandinavia. Personally, I like to plan my long trip in the dirty winter months like November or February. A winter break is also ideal for a trip to the city, as the main attractions are usually less crowded and there is still a day or two of vacation or a few extra hours of overtime.

Tip #9 – Would you like a break?

Have you been dreaming of a trip to Australia, Hawaii or New Zealand for a long time? Some travel destinations cannot be easily reached within 2-3 weeks. So you can either stick to your guns and save all your annual leave for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or you can ask your boss about other options like unpaid vacation days or a sabbatical to pursue your travel dream. This is no longer a problem for many employers.

It's probably a good idea to take a break between changing jobs so you can finally start your big journey. I even quit my job at the time for my three-month trip across South America (not just for that, but for that). Honestly: If your boss is that inflexible, you will almost certainly find another (maybe better?!) job when you return.

Planning Your South America Vacation 2017: How To Maximize Your Vacation Days!
Dream Travel: A global trip to South America?

Tip #10 – Anticipation is the best joy!

Many of my friends at university were panicking about their future lives as professionals. There was no longer time to travel, constant obligations and a life dictated by others made them feel afraid. But working life also has many advantages: because you finally earn money to be able to afford all the travel costs and you don't have to spend every cent while traveling. Of course, not everyone feels like going to the office sometimes or complains that they don't have enough vacation days – but then think about the beautiful moments of your last trip and look forward to the next one.

With that in mind: Happy 2020 travel planning!

What are travel planning tips? Where to go in 2020?

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