USA Holiday Calendar Dates for 2019 Vacation Planning

Your list of holidays for 2019 offers numerous ways to take more vacations and maximize your work-life-vacation balance. This annual post covers the most common federal or public holidays in the USA updated for 2019 (with history and travel videos). For your benefit in the new year, create a holiday calendar marking the official dates at your company. Following is advice on how to turn each paid holiday into a vacation opportunity.

Now is the time to make your 2019 New Year’s resolutions. Include a resolution to never take your company holidays for granted. They are as important as your paid vacation days and should be treated as valuable paid time off from work. The only difference between a holiday and a vacation day is that holidays are fixed on the calendar (except floating holidays of course).

Further Reading: Learn about the history and difference between the words holiday and vacation and how their meanings came about around the world.

2019 USA Holiday Calendar Vacation Benefits

First Step – Check Your Company Holiday List

What holidays should you get off when employed full-time in the US for 2019? As you know there is no federal standard if you work for a private company or non-profit organization. Those who work for the US government or at the state of local level receive a fixed set of holidays, but it varies based on location and department and employment status. There is no standard for private employees nor if you work in the non-profit sector or for a charity or similar organization. It’s up to your employer to decide which holidays to offer as paid days off for full and part-time employees. That is why you need to pay attention to your holiday list as of the 1st of the year.

As a starting point refer to the holidays which are federally mandated by the U.S. government along with the list of the most common U.S. public holidays which are described in detail below. Cross reference it to your list of employee benefits as documented in an HR handbook or online payroll and benefits access portal.

And now without further ado… here is is a summarized list of the U.S. public holidays which will be observed in 2019 including timing and historical background. Along with each official and observed date is advice on how you can turn those holidays into vacation days each month of the year. Plus each listing includes a YouTube video to get you thinking about why the U.S. government declared that day a national holiday and how best to celebrate or commemorate the occasion.

2019 Holidays and Observances in the USA (Official)

Holiday Date January 1, 2019 – New Year’s Day (Tuesday)

With New Year’s eve on a Monday in 2018, the New Year’s Day holiday for 2019 happens on a Tuesday. Are you going to go back to work on Wednesday or take off the rest of the week by applying the first of your vacation days? Or perhaps you rolled over a few days from 2018 that can be used to extend the New Year’s holiday for you and your family.

At the very least, resolve to take all of your vacation days in 2019. Need help tracking your time off allocation and usage? Check out the VacationCounts Web App’s new Time Off tracking feature to document and allocate your paid time off (PTO) including work holidays this year.

Holiday Date January 21, 2019 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday)

While the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a federal holiday (finally) in all 50 states, it is far from standard for non-government and school employees. Check your list of company holidays to determine if this is a paid day off for you or not. The federal holiday is always observed on a Monday and strangely sometimes coincides with Robert E. Lee day in the Southern states.

For those of you who are fortunate to be given this holiday, it will be your first 3-day weekend of the year. An appropriate way to honor the man and the movement is to take a trip to an historic site such as in Memphis, the Civil Rights Memorial in Mobile, Alabama or perhaps the National Museum of African American History in DC.

Holiday Date February 18, 2019 – Washington’s Birthday / Presidents’ Day (Monday – Observed)

You may call it President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday or even Lincoln’s day as he was also born around the same time. This day is America’s official celebration of all the US Presidents regardless of politics. With a 3-day weekend in February your choice of what do to will likely be based on the weather where you live.

As a national holiday it would be nice to do something patriotic to expand your knowledge of American history. There are places of importance in all 50 states so search Google Maps in your area to plan a road trip with the family. For example search for the birthplace of a former President or his Presidential Library like the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum in California, or Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Holiday Date May 27, 2019 – Memorial Day (Monday)

Hopefully the sun will be shining on Memorial Day which many think of as the unofficial start of summer. As you know this holiday is always on the last Monday in May. It has become an extremely popular time to take a long overdue break after the winter months. However try not to wait until May to allocate your first set of vacation days. If you have children use a few in March or April to coincide with the Spring/Easter school break. With the saying that April showers bring May flowers, there are so many warm weather places to visit in the USA or consider a trip to the beach or Caribbean islands or to Europe before the summer crowds arrive.

Do take a moment to recall the importance of this day to honor our military heroes who died while serving our country. Whether you have a moment of silence, discuss war and peace with your family, or pick out a history book to read during your time off, remember why there is an important holiday enacted for this Monday.

Holiday Date July 4th, 2019 – Independence Day (Thursday)

Independence Day or July 4th, this All-American holiday, falls on a Thursday in 2019. Here is your chance for a 4-day weekend by taking just one vacation day on the Friday. You might also want to take off on Wednesday to depart a day early and have the full day of the 4th to celebrate however you like. Popular pastimes are to host or attend a neighborhood barbecue, take the family to the beach, and watch the fireworks spectacle in your nearest big city. July is also an excellent time to plan your big week or two week vacation to a national park, on-board a cruise ship, or to any fun place on your bucket list this year.

Need help hosting your 4th of July party? Search YouTube for cooking, entertaining, and decorating tips in the colors of red, white, and blue. There are lots of food and lifestyle video bloggers (vloggers) who will inspire you to plan the perfect patriotic gathering. Of course you can also search for travel videos to explore vacation destinations around the world. Established travel vloggers and publishers like MojoTravels and Rick Steves will inspire you to book a trip over the summer holidays so get searching!

Holiday Date September 2, 2019 – Labor Day (Monday)

Finally a holiday for people who work to live. In Europe they have “May Day” but in the United States and Canada it’s called Labor Day. This holiday comes with no rules other than to take the day off and make the most of your 3-day weekend. While it is always on the first Monday in September in North America, many European countries offer May Day as a “bank holiday” such as in the UK and Ireland. For families with children going back to school in September, this is typically the last opportunity for a proper summer vacation. Check your school term calendar to be sure you don’t live in a district where the kids start at the end of August.

Even though it is treated as just another day off from work, take a moment to think about how you are meeting your work-life balance goals for the year. Can you make any adjustments to your working schedule so that you can enjoy more time for life? The purpose of the VacationCounts blog is to encourage everyone to embrace work-life-vacation balance as a pathway to greater happiness.

Labor Day Resources for Workers

Want to learn more about how to take back your time, have flexibility at work, use your paid vacation for travel, and optimize your work-life? Here are a few sites and organizations which promote all that so you can be inspired to have the balance you deserve.

Holiday Date October 14, 2019 – Columbus Day (Monday)

Christopher Columbus day fills a gap in the holiday schedule between Labor Day in September and Thanksgiving in November. As a holiday it has become less important over the years since the notion of who “discovered” America is a complicated affair. Was it back in 1492 as taught in school or do we credit the Vikings who landed in Canada centuries before that? A number of cities are now celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a way to focus on the history of Native Americans in this country.

For now it’s mostly an official holiday for Federal workers and in select U.S. states. Perhaps your company offers it as a potential floating holiday. Whether or not you have the day off, October is an excellent month to take a vacation before the mad rush of the coming holiday season and year end. Count your remaining vacation days and plan ahead by booking a Fall trip. Instead of Columbus Day, try to turn Halloween into a holiday at your office. It falls on Thursday the 31st this year.

Holiday Date November 11, 2019 – Veterans Day (Monday)

The trend of having 3-day holiday weekends continues as Veterans Day is officially on a Monday this year. Interesting fact: Veterans Day originally was established to mark the end of World War I. Today this holiday is a reminder for us to pay respect and honor veterans who served in all branches of the U.S. military. Look for veterans in your own life and find ways to thank them for their service as you appreciate the day off.

It’s difficult to tell what businesses are open or closed on this day without asking or going online to find out. Also with Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks, it isn’t an obvious time to take a week of vacation. However you should find lower fares and less busy roads if you choose to go on vacation over Veterans Day. Active military can take advantage of a huge list of travel discounts and deals available only to service members so don’t miss out on the savings if you are entitled.

Holiday Date November 28, 2019 – Thanksgiving (Thursday)

Turkey Day! Thanksgiving holds a special place in our hearts and has become the perfect time to bring together the extended family to give thanks. It rivals Christmas in popularity, perhaps because it has no religious basis and is followed by what is the shopping day of the year. This November will you be traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving, taking a vacation to get away from the crowds (read why you should take a trip to Europe over Thanksgiving), or stay home to host a traditional dinner?

Thanksgiving memories so often revolve around food. While you can make and delight in your proven recipes this year, use this opportunity to explore holiday food traditions from around the country. For those of you who want to go on vacation this Thanksgiving, international flights offer less stress and good bargains versus domestic travel. For example in Europe you’ll experience few crowds compared with summer and the weather is still mild across much of the continent. You could always eat a turkey supper when you get back.

Holiday Date December 25, 2019 – Christmas Day (Wednesday)

With Christmas Day 2019 smack in the middle of the week, it may be difficult to decide whether to take off the days before or after the official holiday. Hopefully you also have Christmas Eve off and therefore by taking a vacation day on the Monday you’ll enjoy at least a 5-day weekend. Of course many people take the entire week off up until the New Year’s holiday on the 1st. Numerous companies have forced closures during this entire period so consult your holiday list and closed notice to best plan ahead for a well-earned vacation at the end of 2019.

As soon as you decide upon the dates for your own Christmas vacation, put in a request at work to get them approved and onto the office calendar. This is especially critical if your company doesn’t let all staff take off the entire week (for businesses that must stay open over the holiday) and to make sure you don’t run out of time to take all of your vacation days earned in 2019. For employees with children still in school, being able to take your vacation days during the Christmas break is often essential. Public and private schools are typically closed from the weekend before Christmas until January 2 or later.

You also want to plan ahead by booking your Christmas vacation at least a few months in advance since flights and hotels tend to book up fast. If you are planning to fly for Christmas, setup a flight price alert on Google Flights to try to secure the lowest fare for your dates and destination. Well before Christmas also set a reminder to double check your vacation day math. How many paid days off will you have remaining to use in 2019 or roll-over to 2020 if allowed?

More Holidays to Take in 2019

Beyond the typical list of government and company public holidays that are given to full-time employees, here are a few more common and not-so-common holidays to consider.

  • Valentine’s Day on Thursday, February 14 – plan to take your partner on a romantic getaway but do book well in advance.
  • St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 17 – you might need Monday off to recover from this festive day of merriment.
  • Good Friday on April 19 and Easter Monday on April 22 – for those who want to observe this holy weekend or to coincide with the school break.
  • Halloween on Thursday, October 31 – do you need the day off to get your costume ready and bake (or buy) scary tricks and treats for the kids?
  • Black Friday on November 29th – time to clean up from a big family dinner and (if you are brave) go out shopping early for big bargains.
  • Christmas Eve on Tuesday, December 24 – a lot of workers do not get this day off as a holiday, so add two vacation days to turn it into a long joyful Christmas weekend.
  • New Year’s Eve on Tuesday, December 31 – if you are like many workers who get New Year’s Day but not eve, schedule a final vacation day to reflect on 2019 and make resolutions for 2020.

Even if your job doesn’t offer any of these as paid days off from work, you can still use a floating holiday or personal day to make it your own “official” holiday and day off. Why limit yourself to the U.S. holidays that everyone takes off if you have alternatives? Mix it up in 2019 to have a few additional paid holidays for family, fun, religious observance, relaxation, commemoration, and work-life balance. 


Important: Consult with your HR portal, company intranet, or human resources representative to get the full and accurate list of your paid employee or organizational holidays for 2019. Mark them on your paper and online calendars right away and find out if any are optional and floating.

How to Track Your 2019 Company Holidays (and Vacation Days)

Option 1: By Time Off Spreadsheet

At VacationCounts.com we know how important it is to be able to track your paid time off (PTO) including vacation days, holidays, floating days, rollover days, personal days, bonus days, and time off in lieu. For the last few years the Vacation Days Tracker spreadsheet has been the smart way used by thousands to maintain an online spreadsheet with your accrual totals and usage numbers. It is a free starting template which also charts your time off and vacation goals. It has been updated for 2019 so you can give it a try by storing a copy in your private (never shared) Google Docs Drive.

Vacation Days Tracker 2019 Spreadsheet - Setup Sheet

Refer to the detailed instructions on the Vacation Days Tracker Page to learn how to input your PTO benefits and holiday dates into the setup tab. After that you’ll use the ‘Vacations’ sheet to keep a list of your vacations taken throughout 2019. Other fun features include work-life-vacation balance graphs, a visual counter showing days left, and a monthly calendar to fill in as you wish. Your job is to accurately track your earned time off (don’t always trust your pay stub) and to lose the personal and financial benefits of your holidays and vacation days this year.

Option 2: By Time Off Web App

The spreadsheet solution has work for tens of thousands of people since 2015, but the new VacationCounts web app is the ultimate replacement. It runs both on desktop computer browser and mobile (smart phone such as iPhone or Android) device without download or install. It’s designed to help you remember, optimize, and take all your paid time off with the following 3 key benefits:

  1. Organize Your Past Vacation Memories Online
  2. Track Your Paid Time Off and Work Holiday Totals
  3. Plan Trips to Allocate your Vacation Days Every Year

Here are a few screenshots to show you how VacationCounts makes it quick and easy to track your paid time off so that you never lose a vacation day.

VacationCounts Time Off App on iPhone
Time Off Benefits Setup Page – iPhone
VacationCounts Web App - Time Off Benefits page
Time Off Days Tracking Page – Chrome

It is helpful to see at a glance exactly how many days off you have left for the year, broken down into category. By tracking your own time off benefits and usage (not relying on HR or payroll) you can be sure it’s up to date and that you are able to take the days you’ve earned how and when you wish. For other solutions to keep track of your vacation dates, travels, and time off from work, check out this the 7 Free Ways to Track Your Vacation Days.


Leverage the Holidays to Travel More in 2019

2019 Holiday Calendar Months Poster

What’s the difference between holidays and vacation days? Not much as they are both days that you will get paid not to work. Treat your holidays like vacation days by adding them to the total number of paid time off you’ll earn in 2019. So if you only get 2 weeks of vacation for example (10 days) and have 9 company holidays, you actually have 19 “vacation” days this year. For those that receive PTO banks which combine sick time and personal days, do the same with the number of holidays you’ll get. This combined approach opens up more possibilities for how many trips you can take in a calendar year.

The key is to separate your vacation planning into short and long trips. One holiday can lead to a 3-day or 4-day weekend or you can leverage multiple vacation days to take off for the entire week. Use your paper or online calendar or the VacationCounts web app to maximize the number of vacations you can take. You may be able to take 1 vacation a month if you work the holidays right. Once you’ve mapped out holiday weekends and vacation weeks in advance, login to your HR system or portal to add them to the shared calendar. You may need approval for your preferred dates, especially during the most popular holiday periods.

Where Do You Want to Go in 2019?

Booking.com

2019 Holiday New Year’s Resolutions

Make it your New Year’s resolution to take full advantage of your official holiday (office closure) list to put your work-life balance first. You can take several more vacations than your vacation policy suggests if you use your company holidays wisely. Count up the number of vacations you took last year and see if you can set a goal to beat that number.

US Holiday Vacation Calendar

This list of the official USA office holidays are fixed on the calendar, but don’t let that limit your vacation plans. Try to negotiate for a floating holiday or two or ask if you can buy extra vacation days to fill in the gaps to enjoy more time off for family, travel, or enrichment.

What other resolutions have you made that relate to taking back your time and celebrating every holiday in 2019? Share your thoughts with the community. And give the VacationCounts Web App a try to track your list of official company holidays and PTO to travel more this year and every year.

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