Like every year, 2018 is full of official public holidays that you can easily turn into vacations to maximize your work-life-vacation balance. For your benefit in the new year, here is your annual list of holiday observances in the USA for 2018 (with videos).
Make it your New Year’s resolution to NOT take your paid holidays for granted. My advice is to treat company holidays the same as paid vacation days. The only difference is that they are fixed on the calendar and most people will enjoy the same days off during the year. Remember to mark your calendars with all your holiday dates in order to take more vacations in 2018.
Every company and employer is different when it comes to which days are official holidays and which days are normal work days. It often depends on whether you work in the private sector or for the US government, or at a state or local agency or a charitable organization. Some holidays are federally mandated by the U.S. government while others will depend on the laws in your state of residence.
Now is the time to check the list of the most common U.S. public holidays below to compare with your HR handbook of employer benefits. Here is a summary for each of the US holidays that will be observed in 2018. Map out these dates on your calendar to apply VacationCounts advice on turning holidays into vacations every month of the year.
With New Year’s eve on a Sunday in 2017, the New Year’s Day holiday for 2018 is on a Monday. How are you going to make the most of this 3-day weekend to remember the highlights of 2017 and make resolutions you want to keep for 2018?
Perhaps you already have plans to go away to one of the family friendly destinations with New Year’s parties scheduled. Not in the mood to brave the crowds or deal with cold and snow in your area late December? Host a party in the comfort of home with your own food and drinks (and party hats) along with family and friends and get ready to countdown to 2018.
Since the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day varies by state and employer, check your list of company holidays to see if this is a non-work day for you. The Federal holiday is observed on a Monday making for a 3-day weekend if you are given this holiday at work.
The true way to honor this non-violent leader of the civil rights movement is to read about or watch archival footage of this critical time on history. In the future, consider taking a trip to a historic site such as in Washington, D.C., Memphis, or even the Civil Rights Memorial in Mobile, Alabama.
Whether you call it President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday, this is our official commemoration holiday for all the US Presidents. Of course you can do whatever you like on this 3-day weekend whether it has to do with politics or not. If you do have off this Monday, consider using the day or weekend to travel to a place where you can witness the story of America. The list of Smithsonian Museums is a great place to start.
Since February is a cold month for most of the country, indoor activities may be ideal unless you enjoy skiing and outdoor adventures. One unique vacation idea is to pick a favorite president and visit his museum, place of birth, monument, or library. My suggestion is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum which is located in Boston which is full of indoor attractions during the winter. Since this is a quiet time for US travel, take the opportunity to embark on a budget-friendly trip to a nearby former president’s museum.
Finally, summer is upon us when the calendar declares that Memorial Day is here. As you know this holiday is always on a Monday and it is an extremely popular time to take a long overdue break after the winter. Hopefully you’ve taken some vacation days off in March and April such as for the Easter break (including Good Friday and Easter Monday) or the official school holiday if you have children. Of course regardless of the fun-family getaway planned, try not to forget the importance of this day to honor our military heroes who died while serving our country. Please consider taking a moment of silence to reflect on their service to protect and defend our freedom.
You only need to use 4 paid vacation days to turn a long weekend into a 9 day trip. In order to beat the crowds on this super busy weekend for travel, I suggest that you take a vacation day on the Friday or even Thursday before to drive or fly out early. With pleasant and warm weather predicted for most of the country during the month of May, you’ll have numerous opportunities to go to a bucket list destination. As with all Federal holidays, U.S. government agencies, banks, and the post office will be closed on the Monday, but otherwise it’s business as usual for your Memorial Day vacation.
July 4th is our Independence Day and the All-American holiday falls on a Wednesday in 2018. The hard decision is whether to take off Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday to turn one day into a 5 day weekend. Since it’s summertime, why not take all 4 days off to enjoy a week of vacation? If you are like most Americans, your plan is to attend or host a backyard BBQ or watch the fireworks in the city or on the beach. Since the holiday is mid-week, it can be tricky to decide how to make the most of this festive day off.
My holiday tip for the 4th is to turn to YouTube for cooking, entertaining, and decorating tips. There are loads of food and lifestyle video bloggers or vloggers as they are known, who inspire us all to turn it up a notch. Of course you don’t have to be patriotic at home. Many families head off to the islands of the Caribbean, sip cocktails in a Mexican resort, or fly to Europe during the school holidays.
Labor Day is a day for all the working people to take a much deserved break from work. That is the original idea behind Labor Day in the U.S. and its equivalent “May Day” holiday celebrated across Europe and around the world. I’m glad this official holiday is fixed on a Monday so you can enjoy yet another 3-day weekend this year. For families with children going back to school in September, this is typically the last opportunity for a summer vacation.
As the Labor Day holiday approaches, take a moment to stop and think about your own work-life balance goals versus reality. At VacationCounts, my goal is to help everyone see how critical work-life balance is for happiness. Our jobs may not always be fun or rewarding, but most of us have to work to afford our lives and take care of our families. Add to that saving for a future filled with travel opportunities now and throughout our retirements.
Here’s to us working people on this day off that we’ve earned. Learn more about the time off advocacy groups that are pushing for better and more flexible time off policy in the USA.
The story of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America is a complex part of our founding as a nation, but history places great importance on that day back in 1492. That one nautical achievement led to the founding of what is today the countries of North and South America. This holiday is not as widely celebrated as much it was decades ago (in San Francisco is started out as a way to celebrate Italian-American heritage) so check your HR handbook to see where your company stands.
Today it’s mostly an official holiday for Federal and select U.S. state workers. I am led to believe (add your comment below) that certain companies and agencies offer it as a floating holiday to take when you wish. Regardless, October is a good month to take a short break whether or not you are lucky enough to have this holiday at your place of employment. As an alternative, consider taking a Halloween vacation as a fun-day, though it falls on a Wednesday in 2018 which breaks up the work week.
This year Veterans Day officially falls on a Monday, so the trend of 3-day holiday weekends continues in 2018. This vital holiday was created to honor all war veterans from both home and abroad. Originally Veterans Day was created to mark the end of World War I. It’s importance continues year after year as we always have Americans serving in the armed forces who deserve a day to be honored by the people of the country they serve.
What’s open or closed on Veterans Day tends to vary, so check online or ask your local business if you plan to spend the day at home. I’ve noticed that this holiday isn’t a popular time to travel since Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With a Monday off from work, think about taking a 3 or 4 day weekend road trip to a place of historical significance. Or take your family to explore a state or national park as the leaves are changing to reflect on the meaning of this holiday. Google Maps is my favorite way to discover nearby tourist attractions within driving distance.
Turkey Day! OK we’re talking about the Thanksgiving holiday which I feel has become more popular than Christmas (what’s your opinion?). It has all the elements of a top national holiday – family, food, crafts, and shopping. I like it when employers offer both Thursday and the Friday after as official company holidays. If you are not so lucky, save one of your paid days off for the Friday and make the most of your turkey day, I mean Thanksgiving weekend. Having “Black Friday” as a second holiday in November can be exciting or stressful, depending on your opinion of this crazy shopping day.
So will you do what most Americans do and spend the day with family eating Thanksgiving such as turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. I know there are regional fixings served, so tell me what I am missing from the menu?
When you are tired of Thanksgiving and feel the need to get away, book a flight to Europe instead. Read my “Take a Thanksgiving trip to Europe” post to be inspired to travel to experience a different set of seasonal traditions with smaller crowds, fair weather, and good bargains. Just search on Kayak or Google Flights for deals to top European destination such as Lisbon, Munich, Edinburgh, Nice, Venice, or Athens.
In 2018 Christmas Eve is on a Monday therefore Christmas Day is the last Tuesday of the year. Like Thanksgiving, many people have two holidays and not just the one official day off. I always recommend taking off the entire week of Christmas if you have the remaining paid time off (PTO) and if you want to take a final vacation to ring in the New Year.
It’s never too early to request your Christmas time off from work especially if you work for a company that can’t give everyone the entire week off. Schools will likely be closed from the weekend before Christmas until January 2, but like with every holiday on this list work and school break periods will vary. Now is the time to do your vacation math to calculate how many vacation days you’ll want to take for Christmas week. If you just don’t have the Christmas spirit or want to avoid this crowded holiday travel period, go into work this week and use the vacation days during less busy months earlier in the year.
There are numerous ways to track your paid vacation days, holidays, floating days, rollover days, and personal days off from work during the calendar year. I use the Vacation Days Tracker spreadsheet which is a Google Sheets document that I created for VacationCounts readers. It’s completely free to use (that’s a promise) so give it a go.
To use the Google Sheet you need to make a private copy of this smart template file. On the settings tab you’ll enter your vacation count and check off which holidays you are granted at your place of employment. Your file and data get stored in your secure Google Drive (in the cloud) account so you can view it and track it monthly on both desktop and mobile.
Use the Vacations tab to enter each of your past and future vacations for 2018 along with the number of paid days off you are taking so you don’t run out and you don’t go over. With the automated dashboard calculations and time off graphing, you can visualize your progress to ensure that you take all of your paid time off by the end of 2018.
For more simple and low-cost ways to keep track of your travels and vacation dates, read my earlier post titled: 7 Free Ways to Track Your Vacation Days.
Readers of VacationCounts.com know that I constantly push the notion of treating official holidays like additional paid vacation days (they are a day off and you do get paid). For example if you have earned 15 days of vacation and are given 10 company holidays in 2018, you actually have 25 paid “vacation” days (that’s not bad). As a full-time employee add up all of your paid time off to have a more accurate picture of how many vacations you can take this calendar year.
It’s never too early to begin planning your short and long vacations, including weekend breaks to destinations both near and far. Now is the time to mark your calendar with proposed vacation periods and thinking about where you want to go. I suggest that you prioritize booking flights and/or hotels for many of these official holiday dates since they are always more expensive and limited. At the same time, get your manager or HR system approval for the most popular holiday periods since you’ll be competing with your co-workers.
As a vacation maximizer, my goal is to take at least one vacation (big or small) every month. Is this your New Year’s Resolution for 2018 as well? It is easier than you think if you regularly track your vacation days and holidays and plan ahead for every month of the year. Besides fixed holidays, fill in the vacation-a-month gaps by scheduling your annual vacation days, rollover days, floating holidays, personal days, days off in lieu, business trips (combine with a weekend of bleisure), and other paid or unpaid time off.
Let’s all toast to 2018 with our shared goal to take more time off from work and life for family, travel, and enrichment. Happy traveling and happy holidays!
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