11/19/2013 11:00 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Don't Let Vacation Days Go To Waste

With six weeks left in the year, the mad dash is on to plan the perfect Thanksgiving, check every last loved one off the gift list, coordinate schedules for a New Year's bash and celebrate the season with family and friends.

During the race up to the new year, what often gets lost in the mix is unused vacation days. According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans don't use about two of their average 12 days of paid vacation per year. And according to a Harris Interactive survey in 2011, more than 55 percent of Americans had unused vacation time.

Don't let those days go to waste: the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas often bring some of the best discounts of the year on hotels, cruises and more. Here are some of our favorite last-minute trip ideas for 2013: 1-2 days
  • See Manhattan dressed up in its holiday finest with a stay at The Blakely in Midtown, close to the Fifth Avenue shops and walkable to the sparkle of Times Square. Stays starting Dec. 17 have been discounted to $199 per night. This exclusive deal, which includes complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi, includes weekend stays, ideal for a quick trip away.
  • Can't get out of town but need some pampering? Create your own spa day with $200 to spend at select Bliss, Mandara and Elemis Spas in Orlando, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and more cities nationwide for $99. Check Travelzoo's Local Deals for even more spa discounts across the country.
3-4 days
  • A discounted trip to Sin City doesn't mean you'll end up on Santa's naughty list. One of the best times to score bargains in Las Vegas is the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Discounted hotel options abound this year: the 5-star Trump International Hotel Las Vegas is as low as $85 per night in November and December and a relaxing stay off-Strip at The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa has been cut to $59 per night. While in town, use Travelzoo's app to find the best deals on restaurants, shows, activities and more.
  • Don't let the warm weather and bright, sunny skies fool you: no one does Christmas like Orlando. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is held nightly through Dec. 20, featuring a holiday parade and fireworks, and this year's schedule of holiday events at Disney World is loaded. Orlando hotel deals start at $69 per night and range from budget friendly to luxurious through the end of the year.
5 days or longer
  • While airfare pricing around Thanksgiving and Christmas is often insanely high, the weeks between those holidays can offer up savings of 50% or more. Check out the fare calendars on 1000 routes using our Best Fares tool to find the best days to fly, or check our airfare deals section to see which airlines have sales on.
  • If you're flying to Europe or internationally, the best deals will come before Dec. 15 (remember, Thanksgiving is just a random Thursday in Paris) or after Jan. 9. If you need to fly over the holidays to Europe, consider springing for business class fares. You'll spend only a few hundred bucks more for a much nicer experience.
-- Hilary Solan is an editor at Travelzoo and based in Chicago. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.