Hands up, how many of you have a full time job? Hands up, how many of you only have 20 days annual leave a year? That doesn’t count the bank holidays, with those it’s 28 days of sweet free time where you can jet off to anywhere you want. But, forget about the bank holidays, 20 days annual leave is equal to 4 working weeks of FREEDOM.
Sweet freedom from the desk job.
So how do you use those 20 days to maximum effect? How do you squeeze every last ounce out of your annual leave?
You could divide it up into one 2-week holiday, and 2 1-week holidays. You could tag extra days onto your bank holidays – this is definitely the most efficient way to make the most of your annual leave. Or, if you’re a European city break lover, you could divide it up into several mini adventures and take 10 4-day long weekends throughout the year. That’s 10 months of adventures right there.
But, I’m going to show you how I’m dividing my annual leave up this year. Personally, I like to have one long holiday a year. Think a 1.5 – 2-week long holiday. Over the past few years I’ve visited Nepal, Australia, NYC, North Carolina and Miami.
Then I like to have a couple of shorter breaks – Ibiza, Brussels and Northumberland were my mini adventures last year. And then I had a couple of days spare which I used at Christmas.
This year is all about LIVING LIFE within my means and there’s no better way to do that than travel. So, in a semi-hypothetical world, here’s how I’m planning my year – or how I REALLY hope I can spend my year – and how you too can use those 20 days annual leave to the max.
1.5 days annual leave + 2 weekend days
Leave on a Friday afternoon, arrive back late on the Monday evening and BOOM. You’ve had a decent 3 days in a new city. Making the most of late flights coming back means your last day is pretty much a full day. MAXIMISING TIME.
I randomly had an odd day booked in March to go down to London. It’s a Tuesday as I’m going down to see The Network with Chris. Rather than have an odd day off in the week, we’ve both booked the Monday off too and we’re having a long weekend in the Lakes before heading down to the Big Smoke. If you have an odd day off – Tuesday or Thursday, can you make the most of the day between that and the weekend to make it a semi-decent break off work.
Easter is the perfect time to get away somewhere. It’s also a holiday I’ve never really taken advantage of. Having the minimum annual leave allowance though is making me appreciate the bank holidays even more though. March would be the PERFECT time to head to Iceland. It’ll still be snowy and there’ll still be a chance to see the Northern Lights. But, it’s expensive so work out how to use these 4-days wisely. Where is it most cost efficient to go and how can you time the flights well to maximise your 4-day weekend?
The period from March to May is ripe pickings for bank holidays. It’s definitely worth planning in advance or these days as prices can be a little more expensive and accommodation can disappear quickly. I definitely need to take my own advice on that one! A city break in the UK is the ideal way to spend these 3 days off. Head up on a Friday evening after work, come back on the Monday and you’ve got plenty of time to relax and refresh.
Spring bank, YES PLEASE. Get me somewhere warm. By this time of the year, I am craving sun, sand and sea. What better place to enjoy that than to BEEFA. You guys know how much I love that place. The point is though, a 3-day bank holiday is a decent enough time to get you to almost any place in Europe. The flight times are short so you have plenty of time to explore and get away for a bit.
This is a personal one, but one of my school friends is getting married in June and I cannot wait for a semi-long weekend of being reunited with my core group of friends, celebrating the first one of us to get married, and basically spend some QT with my buddies. You could get away for the weekend, go to Dublin or catch a quick flight over to Europe. I hear Amsterdam is lovely this time of year, so is Brussels too and Barcelona…
August bank holiday is always a mental one. The traffic on the roads are crazy and flights to anywhere always seem ridiculously expensive. So why not stay close to home? It’s almost guaranteed the weather will be nice so take advantage and have a staycation. That’s what I’m planning on doing… I might even get the tent out to save on accommodation.
BIRTHDAY MONTH! Well, it is for me. I always like to have time off around September. It’s still warm in Europe and most places are fairly cheap. I have it in my head this time of year would be perfect for a road trip of some kind – I head Spain calling. Especially Seville. All those fresh oranges, tapas on the streets, cool Spanish architecture. YES PLEASE. Take me to Spain.
This isn’t booked in yet and ideally I would’ve loved to have tagged a longer break onto a bank holiday to save annual leave. BUT, this way just means I have to make the most of my bank holidays. Leaving late on a Friday night means landing in Bangkok on Saturday evening. Leaving 2 weeks later on the Sunday means landing early Monday morning back in Manchester. It irks me a little bit to use a day’s annual leave to recover from the flight, but it means being able to make the most of the destination. And I can potentially squeeze in a little layover in Hong Kong if I do the flights right. Since the return flight lands fairly early, you could catch brunch on the way back home or organise a nice meal for the evening to finish the holiday off in style.
So there you go, 49 days of sweet, sweet freedom and 10 glorious destinations. Obviously there’s Christmas and NY too but those days, for me anyway, are reserved for lounging on the sofa and stuffing your face with good food. There are also the weekends which offer endless opportunities for local adventure. You never know what hidden gem you might find 20 minutes from your home.
Anyways, this is a huge wish list which only has a 50% chance of happening because you know, money. But whatever I end up doing, or wherever I end up going, this is just a blummin’ good template on how to make the most of the bare minimum of 20 days annual leave.
Have you guys got any adventures planned yet for 2018? How do you spilt up your AL?