The best leap day travel deals — and what to do with your extra day

Feb 28, 2020

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If you needed an excuse to take a vacation, this is it.

Friday, Feb. 29, is Leap Day — a day that only comes around once every four years, during a (you guessed it) Leap Year. And, if anything, it means you have 366 chances (an extra 24 hours) to use one of your hard-earned vacation days. Luckily for you, airlines and hotels are doing their part to help you make it happen.

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We rounded up some of our favorite deals for you to take advantage of, as well as our favorite ways to enjoy your extra travel day. But don’t wait too long to book: Many of these deals will be gone by March.

Book an airline stopover

Stopovers are one of our favorite tricks for seeing two destinations for the price of one. Many airlines run special programs where you can schedule an extended layover in a city (usually the main hub of the airline) en route to your final destination.

For example, Iberia’s Hola Madrid stopover program allows you to spend as little as one night (and up to six) in Madrid, Spain (MAD) at no extra charge. You can also get discounts on hotel stays, airport transfers, entrance to museums, a complimentary transport card and free beer. Yes, you read that correctly: free beer.

TAP Air Portugal also has a popular stopover program, which allows you to stay as little as one day (up to five) at no additional charge in Lisbon (LIS) or Porto (OPO). All you have to do is see if your flight is eligible for a stopover and, if it is, select which city you’d like to visit.

(Photo by Sean3810/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean3810/Getty Images)

Brussels Airlines calls its stopover program a “pit stop” and allows passengers to stay over in Belgium from one to five nights at no extra charge. Officially, your flights land in, and depart from, Brussels (BRU), but because the country is quite small, you’ll be able to easily see more than one city.

Etihad is currently offering complimentary hotel stays in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, for economy flyers on two-night stopovers until July 31, 2020, but you must book by March 1. So, we recommend using the extra 24-hours to plan your tour of Abu Dhabi: Consider a stay at the Andaz Capital Gate and don’t miss the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Related: The ultimate guide to airline stopover programs

Take advantage of hotel deals

Marriott is currently running a last-minute promotion on hotels in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Asia. If you’re a Bonvoy member, you can save 25%, and if you’re a nonmember, you’ll save 20% (but remember: the loyalty program is free to sign up for, so there’s no reason not to be a member). Keep in mind that these special rates are only offered from Thursdays through Sundays until March 22, and it doesn’t apply to brands such as The Ritz-Carlton or Edition. Book by March 1 to take advantage.

Viceroy is also offering Leap-Day-themed deals at a dozen hotels including the Viceroy Chicago, Viceroy Los Cabos, Viceroy Riviera Maya, Hotel Zelos, Hotel Zetta and more. Depending on the hotel, you can get everything from $229 room rates, to $29 room upgrades to 29% discounts. At Viceroy’s Sugar Beach in St. Lucia, for example, you can get 29% off room rates, as well as a $129 resort credit. While you’ll have to book on Feb. 29 to score your deal, you can travel there until Dec. 25 of this year.

Archer hotels — which has locations in New York City, Napa, Austin and Burlington, among others, is also offering 29% off its best-available rates. You can book your reservations starting today, Feb. 28, at 2:29 p.m. Central Time (3:39 p.m. EST) through Saturday, Feb. 29, at midnight Central Time. While you’ll have to book in this timeframe, you can travel any time between Feb. 29, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021.

Don’t see your desired hotel on the list? That doesn’t mean the property isn’t offering a Leap Year deal. We’re seeing a number of properties offer specialized deals to celebrate the bonus day, including 29% reservations at Westgate resorts in Park City, Las Vegas and River Ranch, Florida. Select Kimpton hotels are also offering special Leap Year savings.

Plan a long weekend getaway

Grab your friends, family or take yourself on a solo trip to that nearby, just-around-the-corner destination you’ve had your eye on for years. Long weekends are a great way to relax and reset without taking a big chunk of time off from work and away from your routine. So, cash in that extra day on a Monday or Friday and consider a shoulder season retreat to New York’s Catskills or Hudson Valley; a road trip from San Francisco; or even a long weekend in Europe — yes, seriously!

Related: Long weekend trip ideas

Stay in a hotel in a special time zone

Really want to squeeze all you can out of this extra day? How about staying in a hotel that has its own time zone? There are a handful of hotels around the world that operate in their own time zones so you can soak in all the extra sunlight.

Westin Maldives (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)
Westin Maldives (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)

Start planning your honeymoon

We’re not the first ones to tell you that planning your honeymoon can be stressful. But with a whole extra day of the year, you have more time to start planning the vacation of your dreams. Also, ladies, it’s a tradition for women to propose on a Leap Day. Just saying!

Celebrate your birthday

If you’re a Leap Year baby, you might only get to celebrate your birthday once every four years (we kid, we kid) but at least you’re going to get a lot of presents on Feb. 29.

Oman Air, for example, is offering complimentary business class upgrades if you are flying and born on Feb. 29. And at a gate at San Francisco (SFO) on Friday, Alaska Airlines gave a $300 flight voucher to a man whose birthday falls on Feb. 29, according to TPG’s senior news editor, Clint Henderson. So, even if your airline isn’t publicizing Leap Year deals for travelers born on a leap day, it never hurts to ask.

Find a flight deal

Delta Air Lines is offering Leap Year deals through March 3. Deals vary by destination, but we’re seeing some solid fares around the country.

For example, there are $634 round-trip flights between all Washington, D.C. airports and London Heathrow (LHR). You can also fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to San Diego (SAN) for $129 round-trip; San Francisco (SFO) to St. Thomas (STT) for $333 round-trip; and New York (both LGA and JFK) to Tampa (TPA) for $177 round-trip.

You can check out the whole list here. Just keep in mind, the fares are in basic economy.

Get half-off train tickets

Amtrak is offering a whopping 50% off select tickets with its Leap Year Sale. Starting today, Feb. 28 through tomorrow, Feb. 29, you can receive half-off coach tickets for travel between March 7 and April 8.

For example, tickets between Chicago and St. Louis are only $16; Detroit and Chicago are only $20; and Portland to Seattle are $18.

Feature photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images.

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