USA Holiday Calendar Dates for 2020 Vacation Planning

Looking for the US holidays calendar for 2020? Learn how to use the list of public or national holidays to go on vacation more often this year. Full-time employees receive paid holidays which are just as valuable as regular vacation days; though less flexible except for floating holidays. So review the observed dates and mark your calendar to make the most of your time off from work (and life). You might only get 2 or 3 weeks of vacation as a work benefit. Including your national, state, and local holidays causes your time off count to increase by a lot!

2020 holiday calendar (USA vacation benefits)

Make it your 2020 New Year’s resolution to use every one of your holidays to improve your work-life-vacation balance. This annual post on VacationCounts covers the US holidays calendar including federal holidays and popular observances. Never take your paid time off for granted by leveraging company holidays to take numerous fun and memorable vacations in 2020.

First Check Your 2020 Company Holiday Calendar

As a full-time employee in America, what holidays do you get paid for? That’s an important question to ask at work after the New Year so you can plan for the months ahead. Unfortunately there is no U.S. federal standard when you work for a private company or organization. Your set of official holidays is dependent on who you work for and how generous a benefit package they offer.

Don’t worry as it’s common for full-time employees to get paid as a day off for the following most popular holidays in the USA. For those of you who are employed by the U.S. government, you’ll likely receive this legally mandated set of observed holidays. If you work at the state or local level in government your official holiday dates will vary. Luckily most employers use the federal list as a guideline and starting point. You should expect to receive most of these days plus maybe a few extra each year.

The same applies to people working for a charitable organization or in the non-profit sector. You’ll have to consult your list of observed holidays to know when you’ll have a paid day off. Part-time employees and contractors are in a more difficult situation since you may not get the full package of time off benefits which includes paid holidays. Hopefully if you have to or choose to work on a U.S. holiday you’ll get overtime pay to make up for your sacrifice.

2020 Holiday Monthly Calendar (USA)

Your first step is to get a hold of your official holiday list for 2020. It’s usually sent out by human resources or available on the HR portal at your place of work. Next compare it with the holiday dates which are federally mandated by the U.S. government along with the Office Holidays website published list of the most common U.S. public holidays and some observances. These are covered in this annual post along with brilliant ways to turn each holiday into a vacation day.

Get Ready For Your 2020 Holidays!

Without further delay, here is the VacationCounts list of the public holidays which will be observed in the USA for 2020. The US holiday list for 2019 is still available online. Each holiday includes timing information, a YouTube video to inspire your holiday commemoration, and historical background to learn more. It’s key to not take your holidays for granted whether or not you use them for travel opportunities. Each date is there for a reason so stop to think about why the U.S. government declared a national holiday and what it means to be an American.

2020 Official Holidays and Observances Calendar – USA 2020

Holiday Date January 1, 2020 – New Year’s Day (Wednesday)

With New Year’s eve on a Tuesday in 2020, the New Year’s Day holiday for 2020 happens on a Wednesday. Are you going to go back to work for just Thursday and Friday or take your first two vacation days of 2020 (rollover perhaps?) to ring in the New Year with a 5-day weekend? Whether you celebrate the New Year in your home town or spend it away on vacation, the 1st of January is an important time to usher in 2020 and make plans for a year full of vacation memories.

Watch the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2020

You can look forward to a new set of vacation days and company holidays to turn into travel opportunities. Open up your online calendar (turn on the U.S. holiday calendar layer) and begin to map out vacation possibilities. Make a New Year’s resolution to take at least one more vacation this year compared with last year. To get started try the VacationCounts Web App to track your paid time off, holiday calendar, and planned vacation list. It’s free and requires no download or install on desktop or phone – just open it in your browser.

Holiday Date January 20, 2020 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday)

In all 50 states, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a federal holiday. Sadly, less than 50% of American employers offer this holiday according to a recent survey. Since this holiday happens early in the year, look up your company holidays list to find out if it’s a paid day off for you. The federal holiday is always observed on a Monday. Strange (unfortunate) Fact: MLK Day sometimes coincides with Robert E. Lee day in several Southern states.

This holiday represent your first opportunity of the year to take an easy 3-day weekend. Beyond taking a 3 or 4 day weekend trip this winter, there are several ways to honor the civil rights movement and the man who had a dream. Consider a trip to the tragic site in Memphis, home to the National Civil Rights Museum. Other ideas include the Civil Rights Memorial in Mobile, Alabama as well as the National Museum of African American History located in Washington, D.C.

Did you know: entry to sites run by the national parks service are fee free in honor of this holiday?

Holiday Date February 17, 2020 – Presidents’ Day (Monday)

Are you going to stop to celebrate the accomplishments of our past presidents on the next President’s Day holiday? In the past this holiday was called Washington’s Birthday as first established in the 1800’s (coincidentally Abraham Lincoln was also born in February). It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 70’s when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act led to one combined holiday.

What will you do with this opportunity to head off on a 3-day weekend during the cold month of February? Enjoy the winter sports, fly to someplace warm, or visit indoor attractions around the USA?

To turn this national holiday into a history lesson, plan for a patriotic vacation this year. There are places vital to our nation’s history located across all 50 states. Search on Google Maps using keywords such as “presidential library” or “national historic site” within your geographical area to create an itinerary for a family road trip. A few ideas include the Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the FDR library and museum in upstate New York State.

Holiday Date May 25, 2020 – Memorial Day (Monday)

The Memorial Day holiday is thought of as the official start of summer though technically the real date isn’t until June 20th. This string of Monday holidays continues so you are likely to want to plan for a 3 day weekend. To avoid the holiday traffic try to add on a vacation day (or two) to each end. That way you can depart on Thursday evening or Friday morning and not return until Tuesday evening.

Hopefully you’ve already taken a few vacation days before this point including over the Easter holidays. If you have children in school you likely took vacation days over the spring break period in March or April. By time May arrives you’ll be ready to take another trip with typically warmer and dryer weather in the USA. Beyond the road trips from your home city, consider flying to a popular beach area, national park, or even a Caribbean island. Late May is an ideal time to visit most regions of the country as well as Europe and Asia, though crowds are always a factor.

Of course don’t forget about the actual reason for the Memorial Day holiday. This important day is there to honor our military members who died serving our country. Make time on this day for a moment of silence, to have a discussion with your kids about war and American history, or buy a history or biography book to take with you on vacation.

Holiday Date July 3rd, 2020 – Independence Day (Friday – Observed)

The Independence Day holiday happens on July 4th as you all know, but this year the date falls on a Saturday. Therefore the official observed day is on the Friday before so you won’t lose a holiday day off. You’ll just have an extra day to buy fireworks 😉 It makes no difference as you’ll enjoy a three day weekend or longer whether or not you decide to use your vacation days for an extended trip with the family. For those staying home and hosting a backyard BBQ or party, shop for red, white, and blue decorations and search for American-inspired recipes online.

Looking to get away for the week? Watching destination videos on YouTube is an excellent way to come up with ideas for a summer vacation. Beyond numerous lists of the top 10 tourist attractions across America, search for videos from The Travel Channel, National Geographic, and MojoTravels as well as vloggers who travel full-time and share their adventures with viewers. Expedia is also full of cool ideas for summer vacation packages including flights, hotels, and activities for one low price.

Holiday Date September 7, 2020 – Labor Day (Monday)

While Europe celebrates May Day (in May of course), the United States has Labor Day on the first Monday in September. You earned this day off by working a full-time job (finally, a day for working people!) so mark your calendar to take a vacation weekend or week. For most parts of the country this holiday happens around the back to school time (usually late August or early September). Look up your school district’s official calendar to make note of the dates you can and cannot take your kids on vacation.

As this might be your last opportunity for a summer vacation, plan way ahead by booking flights and hotels before prices go up. Labor Day is also a popular time for sales, especially back-to-school sales, so you may want to use this chance to go on a shopping trip. As it goes without saying that this is one of those weekends when it’s super busy on the roads. Try to avoid traveling on the Friday after work and Monday evening if at all possible by taking one or preferably two or three vacation days.

Besides New Year’s Day, Labor Day is the perfect time to document your work-life balance goals and accomplishments. So far this year have you been able to take the time off you need for personal reasons, family life, travel, and enrichment? Even though it is treated as just another day off from work, take some alone time to come up with work schedule, time management and productivity tweaks. For example can you ask for a flexible working schedule or work a compressed week at your company? Make sure you are signed up for the VacationCounts “Take more Time Off” email newsletter to read more ways to enhance your balance and learn how to optimize your limited time off from work and life.

Recommended Labor Day Resources

Want to learn more about how to take back your time, promote flexibility at the office, and gain more hours in each day? Follow these sites for practical advice you can use to gain the work-life balance you deserve.

Holiday Date October 12, 2020 – Columbus Day (Monday)

It’s nice to have a holiday in the month of October, though this day isn’t as widely celebrated as in the past. Columbus Day nicely fills a gap between Labor Day in September and Thanksgiving in November. Though you have to consider whether Christopher Columbus really “discovered” America when there were native people already living here (or look at the evidence that Vikings landed in Canada much earlier). Today more and more cities are choosing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. It is a thoughtful way to change the focus to be on Native Americans and their rich, storied, and challenging history since the founding of our colonies.

It’s still a federal holiday in the U.S., but in a majority of states it is not an official holiday on their calendars. While the federal government and most banks are closed, only 21 states have it as a paid holiday. Check with your own state website to determine what’s closed and what’s open where you live and work. As a compromise, it would be great if every employer offered Columbus Day as a floating holiday to take now or later. Regardless of whether you have this day off, October is a less busy and pleasant month to travel. With Thanksgiving and the Christmas season fast approaching, consider taking a quick autumn vacation before the holiday madness begins.

Holiday Date November 11, 2020 – Veterans Day (Wednesday)

Because 2020 is a leap year, Veterans Day in 2020 moves to a Wednesday, smack in the middle of the week. While Monday holidays seem to be the norm, a mid-week holiday offers unique opportunities to take your vacation days this November. You can go in either direction by taking Monday and Tuesday off or Thursday and Friday in order to enjoy a 5-day weekend vacation.

You may not know that originally Veterans Day was established to mark the end of World War I. Since we’ve had other wars since then, the Veterans Day holiday evolved to become a day for us to pay respect to veterans across all branches of the U.S. military. Use this important holiday as a chance thank the men and women in your life who served the United States of America. This day off is for them.

Veterans Day is a holiday where it’s hard to know what’s open or closed so pay attention if you are planning activities on the day. Even taking off for just the one day and going to the nearest city to play tourist for the day is a rewarding way to have a mini vacation. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you should be able to book cheaper travel if you decide take a long weekend vacation. Check this useful website that lists how Active military can take advantage of a huge list of travel discounts and deals available only to service members.

Holiday Date November 26, 2020 – Thanksgiving (Thursday)

Traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday is always incredibly busy and stressful, so it pays to plan ahead to avoid the worst days of travel. Is Thanksgiving the most widely celebrated holiday in America? It not only brings family together for a memorable meal, it is followed by what has become the bargain shopping day of the year.

While it may seem wrong to travel abroad this November, read why to consider a trip to Europe over Thanksgiving to avoid the crowds. While you may not want to change your turkey day celebrations, remember that you can easily have a four-day weekend or longer if you want to take time off to tour places near where your family lives.

Start early to plan and book your Thanksgiving travels especially if you are flying. There are loads of tips online that tell you which day is best to fly, how to avoid airport nightmares, and ways to save money getting where you need to go during this super busy time of the year. As your trip may be subject to delays and cancellations and possibly lost luggage, buy an inexpensive travel insurance policy before you depart. This advice applies to any risky, expensive, or challenging trip in the U.S. as well as to a foreign country or by cruise ship.

Protect your travel budget in case of emergency

Holiday Date December 25, 2020 – Christmas Day (Friday)

Christmas Day fortunately lands on a Friday in 2020 which means Christmas Eve happens on a Thursday. You’ll enjoy a 3-day or longer weekend depending upon whether your company offers one or two days off for Christmas. Many employees make it a full week and some companies even shut down for the final week or two of the year. Are you forced to take your vacation days at the end of 2020 when the office is closed? Since New Year’s Day 2021 is also on a Friday, you’ll benefit from two 3-day weekends in a row. You may be tempted to use up all your remaining vacation days, personal days, and floating holidays to have a glorious 2-week vacation. Consult your workplace calendar to see how best to leverage the Christmas holiday period.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to get your vacation days approved well in advance, especially if you need to maintain some level of staffing where you work. Set a reminder on your Google or Apple or Outlook calendar to get your preferred days approved once you decide how to allocate your paid time off in 2020. Track your PTO earnings and usage in the VacationCounts web app so you don’t lose any vacation days when the year ends.

Typically the week of Christmas through the New Year is when schools close for the holiday break. With Christmas leading into the weekend, it may be a smart idea to take a few days before the holiday. This can help save money on flights and avoid the holiday crush on the roads and at the airport. Book your travels well in advance once you have your Christmas vacation dates finalized and approved. Setting up a flight price alert on Kayak, Skyscanner, or Google Flights is a smart way to find the lowest fare.

Finally make sure to verify your paid time off benefit tracking system as the end of 2020 approaches. You want to be absolutely sure you’ll have enough days off remaining for your final vacation or be able to roll-over vacation days into 2021 if necessary. Also look up if you have any leftover personal or floating days that you haven’t taken as well as any bonus days. You may also have earned make-up time off in lieu for working weekends or holidays so check your number for accuracy.

Bonus Holidays to Take in 2020

The monthly calendar is full of holidays beyond the limited list of U.S. government and common company public holidays. You don’t have to be granted floating holidays to take these or any fun or meaningful holiday as a day off. You can use your regular vacation days to take any holiday that you wish, with proper advance planning of course. Here is a list of a few of the most popular holidays to add to your own list for 2020.

  • Valentine’s Day on Friday, February 14 – take your partner on a romantic getaway (weekend in Vegas or Paris?) but be sure to book restaurants well in advance.
  • St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, March 17 – many cities across the USA turn Irish for the day, but consider a vacation to Dublin, Ireland to see the parade and drink a real pint of Guinness.
  • Good Friday on April 10 and Easter Monday on April 13 – you may already have holidays for Easter; otherwise make it a four-day spring weekend which often coincides with the school break.
  • Halloween on Saturday, October 31 – since it’s on a weekend already, you may want to take the Friday off to create your costume and buy your trick or treats.
  • Black Friday on November 27th – there are numerous good reasons to take the Friday if your employer doesn’t offer it such as cleaning up after a big family dinner and getting out early to the sales.
  • Christmas Eve on Thursday, December 24 – it’s nice to have both Christmas Eve and Day off if your job doesn’t offer both holidays so you can have more time to be festive and watch your favorite Christmas movies.
  • New Year’s Eve on Thursday, December 31 – you may only have New Year’s Day as a company holiday so add this to your vacation calendar if you are planning to celebrate the end of 2020 in style.

Why limit yourself to the U.S. holidays that everyone takes off if you have a bit of flexibility and available vacation days. Websites such as list all the fun and ridiculous holidays that happen almost every day of the year. Whether it’s national doughnut day, dog appreciation day, talk like a pirate day, or even no pants day, … there is a themed day for everyone. Mix it up in 2020 by taking additional paid holidays for family, fun, religious, 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 2020. Mark them on your paper and online calendars right away and find out if any are optional and floating.

How to Track Your Company Holidays and Vacation Benefits

Option 1: By Time Off Spreadsheet

VacationCounts knows how important it is to accurately track your paid time off (PTO) including vacation days, holidays, floating days, rollover days, personal days, bonus days, and time off in lieu. For several years now the Vacation Days Tracker spreadsheet has been used by tens of thousands to store and track earned and allocated time off numbers. It is a free Google Sheets template (make a copy for yourself) which also charts your time off and calculates vacation usage statistics.
It has been updated for 2020 so you can give it a try by opening it and making a copy to store in your personal Google 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 2020.

Option 2: By Time Off Vacation Web App

Since 2019 the VacationCounts web app has become the full featured time off and vacation tracking tool. It runs equally well in the browser on your computer (desktop or laptop) or smart phone (tested on iPhone and Android devices). Therefore you can start using it immediately without the need to download or install any software. 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. Schedule Trips to Allocate your Vacation Days Every Year

The screenshots below shows you how the VacationCounts travel app makes it simple to track your paid time off and never lose a vacation day.

Time Off Tracker – Vacation Year Benefits Setup
Vacation Days Tracker – Desktop Browser Screenshot

You’ll be able to see at a glance exactly how many days off you have remaining for the calendar year, broken down into time off benefit categories. Organizing your upcoming vacation list and tracking your time off usage (not relying on HR) makes it easier to optimize your work-life-vacation balance. Plus you can double check the payroll numbers for accuracy as well as take vacations when you prefer. Learn more or…

Travel Tips for US Holidays 2020

This question often comes up – what is the real difference between holidays and vacation days? When you are getting paid to take the day off and you can use that day to travel, there is really very little difference. Holidays are fixed on the calendar and lack flexibility unless they are a floating holiday. Vacation days are flexible as to when you can take them, but often require manager or HR approval to avoid everyone taking off on the same day. The takeaway is to use both types of paid time off to travel more in 2020.

As this article covering the list of U.S. national holidays for 2020 shows, you have to look closely at your holiday calendar and what days of the week each falls on. With several Monday holiday dates this year you can take multiple long weekend vacations without much effort.

Now add in the total number of vacation days (paid time off including personal days, rollover days, and bonus paid leave) you’ll earn by working at your job this year. Add that combined number to the number of holidays you’ll receive. That larger figure is the actual number of vacation days you can use to travel and enjoy greater work-life balance.

For example if you only earn 10 days (2 weeks) of vacation in the calendar year but also get 10 paid company holidays and managed to rollover 2 days from the previous year,… you actually have 22 vacation days off in 2020. Don’t feel so bad about only getting 2 weeks of PTO at your job if you also have paid holidays to leverage. If instead you’ll earn a more generous 3 weeks of vacation this year and add in your list of 9 official holidays, your total vacation count will be 24. Calculate your own total time off benefit count for 2020 so you can feel better about the vacation possibilities.

A note about sick leave. While you may be tempted to use your sick days for vacation purposes, it isn’t recommended for obvious reasons. That is unless you earn a paid time off (PTO) bank of days off. When your sick days are combined with vacation and personal days, you’ll have more days for any purpose. However you still want to save a few days for when you are actually sick, but you can adjust towards the last few months of the year based on what’s left. Just don’t pretend to be sick when you are really on vacation and do consult your employee manual to make sure you abide by the rules of your employer.

The final piece of advice to use your holidays to travel more is to organize your vacation plans into sizes. You want to plan small, medium, and large trips. Small trips are 3-day weekends, medium are 4-6 day vacations, and large are for when you are able to go away for a week or longer. With this approach try to take 1 vacation every month as your prescription for happiness in work, life, and travel. That’s 12 vacation per year!

Where Do You Want to Go in 2020?

2020 New Year’s Resolutions

What New Year’s resolutions did you make as you rang in January 1st of this year? Was one of them to take more vacations and travel to more places more in 2020? It’s never too late to make a commitment to improving your work-life-vacation balance. By leveraging your official company holiday list and planning ahead month-by-month, you can do it.

Before you get started, count up the number of trips you took last year. You can document them in a spreadsheet or the VacationCounts app for desktop or mobile. Next set a goal to challenge yourself in 2020. Of course make it a realistic goal based on the total number of days off you’ll earn this year. Once you’ve figured out the maximum number of vacations you can take, go online and start researching destinations. Look at the National Geographic list of the top places to visit in 2020, open up Google Maps to navigate around the globe, or head to your local bookstore to buy a guidebook to your dream destination.

US Holiday Vacation Calendar

Bonus Tip: This 2020 list of the federal holidays in the USA may be fixed on the calendar, but don’t let that limit your vacation plans. Here are a few alternative approaches to increasing your vacation count:

What other travel and work-life balance resolutions have you made for 2020? Share your thoughts with the community by adding a comment. And give the VacationCounts Web App a try to track your vacation benefits, including company holidays, so you can optimize your time off allocation.

  • Rozi Khan says:

    It would be great to see these places and enjoy looking over there. Enjoying Vacation Unlimited times would be great. Visiting to these 10 places in US would be very adventurous for me. I will surely go to these places on my vacation. I love exploring new places and knowing about them.

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