Out of Office

Life moves fast. So fast, many of us forget to take a day off, leaving our hard-earned vacation days on the table. A recent survey by Qualtrics found that only 27% of working Americans use all of their paid vacation time, and those who do typically stay connected despite their “out of office” reply, which often leads to burnout, fatigue and a dip in creativity.

So how can we take back our precious time off and enjoy ourselves more in the new year? With some good old-fashioned planning! With a bit of preparation, savvy travelers can extend weekend getaways with shouldering holidays, scope out the best hotel rates and curate awesome itineraries that make every minute of PTO count. Meaning when vacation time rolls around, all that’s left to do is kick back and have some fun.

Not sure where to start? Take a cue from National Plan for Vacation Day on the last Tuesday of January and explore Independent Collections’ season-by-season guide below for the best travel destinations for this year!


Go Somewhere Warm

Without the holiday cheer, winter can sometimes feel a bit blah. Sunshine, ocean views and frozen daiquiris are proven to fix that. This winter, spread your snowbird wings and head south to Florida for a taste of island life. 

In the Florida Keys, vacationers have their pick of fun-in-the-sun activities, all with jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo protects miles and miles of mangrove swamps and the largest coral reef ecosystem in the continental U.S., where you can snorkel or scuba dive alongside sea turtles, colorful fish and other fascinating marine life. If you love fishing, you can’t miss Islamorada, hailed as the sports fishing capital of the world. Kayaking, parasailing, boating, jet skiing and paddleboarding are also popular throughout the Florida Keys.

Paradise is surprisingly easy to reach, too. The journey from Miami to the Keys’ southernmost island, Key West, is about four hours by car and can be tackled in a day, but getting there is half the fun. 

Where to stay: Islander Resort and Bayside Villas by Islander Resort in Islamorada; Parrot Key Hotel & Villas in Key West.

If you’re more of a “hang by the pool with a tropical cocktail” person, consider a winter vacation in Miami Beach. Besides its picture-perfect playas and Art Deco architecture, Miami Beach has a jam-packed social calendar with annual events like Miami Art Week and Art Basel in December, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) in February, and many others.

Beyond the beach, curious travelers can explore Miami’s local neighborhoods like Coral Gables and Coconut Grove — home to some of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants — and historic treasures like Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. 

Where to stay: Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Blue Moon Hotel and Winter Haven Hotel in Miami Beach; THesis Hotel in Coral Gables.

Save During Slow Season

Traveling on a budget? Winter may be the perfect time to visit some of your bucket list cities without breaking the bank! 

Take for example Washington, D.C. Airfare and hotel rates are considerably more desirable during winter months. And with fewer tourists around, you can enjoy the District’s historic monuments, award-winning restaurants and world-class Smithsonian museums at your leisure. 

Where to stay: The Morrow Hotel.

Lobby of The Morrow Hotel in Washington, DC
(Image: The Morrow Hotel, Washington, D.C.)


Spend Time in Nature

California is a dreamy travel destination any time of year, but we’re partial to springtime when all those beautiful mountains and oceanfront parks are lush and blooming with wildflowers. 

If your ideal vacation is spent relaxing in nature, consider a visit to Monterey, California. This gorgeous coastal city is sandwiched between rugged beaches and redwood forests, offering some truly wild views and outdoor activities. Go for an oceanfront hike through the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail or Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Bike through Point Lobos State Reserve, go whale watching with a naturalist guide, or simply unwind with a beachside bonfire. 

Monterey also has a relaxing small-town vibe about it. This is the kind of place you can really live out your “coastal grandmother” aesthetic, complete with a cable-knit turtleneck and winery visits with your girlfriends. 

Where to stay: The Sanctuary Beach Resort.


Enjoy a Quintessential American Summer

Few places scream summer like Cape Cod, Massachusetts. While summertime marks peak busy season for the picturesque peninsula, it’s also the best time of year to enjoy the Cape’s soft, sandy beaches and New England charm. Grab an ice cream cone and go antique shopping along cobblestone streets, eat your way through the Cape’s famous clam shacks, get up close to gray seals and humpback whales, or grab a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for some beautiful sightseeing. 

Pro tip: Book your summer trip during the winter months to take advantage of discounted hotel rates and special offers! 

Where to stay:  Sea Crest Beach Hotel.

For even more family-friendly fun, plan a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Summer is an especially vibrant time for the City of Brotherly Love, when historic town squares are buzzing with outdoor concerts and special events like Center City District SIPS. Philly is home to some incredible culinary minds, meaning foodies have their pick of Michelin-starred restaurants and mom-and-pop shops boasting the best Philly cheesesteak around. The city is also home to many national monuments including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and adopted. It goes without saying, the Fourth of July is a pretty big deal around here!

Where to stay: The Rittenhouse.

Sundeck with view of Philadelphia skyline from Rittenhouse Spa & Club
(Image: The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia)


Get Lost in Fall Foliage

Few places are as beautiful as Boston, Massachusetts during the fall. The air is crisp, trees are ablaze in fiery reds and orange hues. Even the locals are excited to be in town! Plan your visit around mid-October for prime leaf peeping at the Public Garden, or venture to a nearby farm for traditional fall activities like apple picking and pumpkin patches. Halloween fans can tack on a day trip to Salem for a spooky ghost tour. Or, if you’re a sports fan, plan your trip around a New England Patriots game or Boston Bruins match.

Where to stay: The Boxer Boston, The Envoy Hotel, The Whitney Hotel.

Explore The Southwest

Fall is the Goldilocks season for visiting Texas. Not too hot, not too crowded. Natural landscapes are blooming after a rainy summer season. It’s the perfect time of year to explore Texas’ many personalities, including El Paso’s desert landscapes.

The Lone Star State is vast and varied, and best explored by car. Embark on an epic fall road trip through Big Bend National Park, learn about Texas’ German heritage at an Oktoberfest celebration, or venture to the strangely wonderful town of Marfa for eccentric public art and mysterious light shows.

Where to stay: The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park in El Paso.