Don’t waste your PTO; Autumn is the perfect time of year to plan a staycation. (Photo: Jon Bilous / Alamy)

Tips + Trends

Why Spend a Bundle on Flights or Gas? Plan a Fall Staycation

Don’t waste your PTO; Autumn is the perfect time of year to plan a staycation. (Photo: Jon Bilous / Alamy)

The year’s end is (far too) quickly approaching. If you’re finding your unused paid time off (PTO) has piled up unused, you’re not alone. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the hustle of work or family obligations and forget to take your hard-earned vacation. In fact, Americans lead the world in unused paid time off days. A whopping 430 million days go unspent each year.

But this doesn’t need to be the case. If you’re overwhelmed by booking a major getaway, keep it sample. Take a staycation close to home. Review our guide for ideas on how working moms (and dads!) can make the most of paid time off before the year wraps.

Get Creative; Plan a Staycation

If you only have a few days off and limited resources to plan a big trip, consider these staycation ideas in your own city. Not only will you save time traveling but you’ll save money as well.

  • Visit a local museum or park for educational, learning experiences.
  • Attend a sporting event and plan your staycation around a big game.
  • Check your local city’s calendar of events for upcoming festivals.
  • Buy tickets to a family-friend musical, theater performance or movie.
  • Sign-up for kid-friendly classes like cooking classes or pottery making at local shops.

Top Places for an Autumn Staycation in the U.S.

Pittsburgh: Watch the leaves turn from green to shades of red, yellow and orange as you take part in some of the city’s best outdoor fall activities. Go apple picking at popular farms like Simmons Farm or Norman’s Orchard.

Best fall event: The popular Pumpkinland festival at Janoski Farms. With a corn maze, pumpkin patch, kid-activities, and a haunted barn, Pumpkinland is the perfect place to spend the day and explore.

New Orleans: Thank to its relatively mild fall and winter temperatures, New Orleans is a perfect staycation spot without chilly autumn temperatures.

Music lovers can rock out at the VooDoo Music Experience Festival, held annually around Halloween. Past events featured artists like Outkast, Zedd, Foo Fighters, and Pretty Lights.

For a foodie-focused fall retreat, enjoy the Oak Street Po-boy Festival, dedicated to the city’s famed sandwich.

Seattle: If your kids joining you on your staycation, check out Leavenworth Oktoberfest for fun the whole family can enjoy.

Adults can enjoy food and beverage tents along with live entertainment, while kids burn off steam at Kinderplatz, an area specifically for the little ones with a climbing wall, activities and special events.

The annual Fishermen’s Fall Festival embraces Seattle’s waterfront culture – from lutefisk eating contests to a salmon cooking contest.

Pamper Yourself

If you need time to completely relax and unwind, book a spa day with one of your unused paid time off days.

Find a spa where you can enjoy a relaxing deep tissue massage, a hydrating facial or a manicure and pedicure.

Check the complete list of offerings at the spa before you go to make the most of your day off.

Plan a Girls (or Moms) Get Together

Chat with your girlfriends and other working moms to coordinate using your PTO together. Consider these girls getaway ideas:

  • Gather for brunch, afternoon tea, or dinner out on the town.
  • Take a cooking class together. Specialty shops like Sur la Table offer different classes based on interest.
  • Channel your inner Picasso at a painting class and create a new piece of artwork for your home. Find a local Painting with a Twist location and sign up for one of their fun and entertaining classes. They offer step-by-step instructions and allow you to bring your own wine, beverage, and food!

Regardless of how you choose to take time off, plan to use your PTO before the end of the year. You’ll be happy you took the time for yourself to rest, relax and recuperate.