How to maximise your annual leave to travel more frequently

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One of the main reasons I started my blog was to showcase that it is possible to travel frequently while still maintaining a 9-5. I have never been a ‘backpacker’ and at this point, I doubt I ever will be. Yet I am incredibly fortunate to take on average 8-10 trips a year. All of which are taken around standard annual leave and you can too. You just need to learn how to think ahead, think smart and learn how to maximise your annual leave.

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How to maximise your annual leave to travel more frequently

Make the most of the bank holidays

My first tip, which is the top tip, is to make the most of the bank holidays. Due to bank holidays always falling on Fridays or Mondays, it is the perfect way to use the ‘free days’ to extend your annual leave – Easter and Christmas usually work out best for this, especially when Easter falls later in April. At the bottom of this post, I have listed the bank holiday annual leave tricks for 2020, so make sure you keep reading to get them.

Only take annual leave for holiday

I know a lot of people who will take annual leave just for a chill day at home or for an appointment, which of course is completely fine, but if you are looking to maximise your annual leave then you cannot do this, it is a waste of a day.

Instead, if you need time off for appointments, see if you can swap shifts with other staff members or make up hours on another day. It is not ideal to be doing it all the time, you do not want to annoy your employer, but for the odd appointment or two, most bosses will be okay with it.

Make the most of the weekends

If you want to more frequently around your career, you need to make the most of the weekends. My partner and I fully maximise our weekends by heading to the airport on a Friday evening and then heading back late on a Sunday evening. If you live in Europe, this is incredibly easy to do. What better way to end the working week than with 36 hours in Amsterdam or a trip to Basel’s Christmas Markets.

City breaks were made for weekends, so ensure you make the most of them – you will be surprised how many you can fit in over a year.

a couple in switzerland - weekends are a great way to maximise annual leave

Plan Early

Unfortunately, when making the most of your annual leave there is not always room for spontaneity, you need to plan. At the start of the year (or near the time your annual leave resets) decide your travel plans for the upcoming year. When you have the goals in mind it makes it so much more achievable and you can get your plan of action in early.

You may want to divide your holidays up into 3 x one week holidays and an odd weekend trip or decide you want a big two week holiday and a few long weekends. There are so many possibilities, you may want to take holidays with scenic river cruises where you can sample multiple countries or cities over a week while enjoying the luxury of a cruise or you may want to pick up a backpack and spend 2 weeks travelling in India.

Seeing the world is still possible around a 9-5, you just need to think smart.

Discuss your options with your boss

Some companies allow you to ‘buy more holiday’ or work through bank holidays in order to take a day elsewhere, at a time which is useful to you. Take to your company and see what is allowable for your contract. Unfortunately, not all companies do offer these perks, but they may be up for discussion, therefore it is always worth checking.

cape town during a 2 week holiday

Make travel affordable

Maximising your annual leave is great but in order to travel frequently, it also needs to be affordable.  In order to to do this, you may find my posts on how to find the cheapest flights and simple ways to save money for travel helpful. These posts include honest and achievable ways to make travel more accessible for everyone.

Make travel a priority

This one may sound silly but it is important. The moment you start making travel a priority the more obtainable it becomes. As soon as you realise your goal, your mindset will change.

You will be surprised at how quickly you will look at things differently to achieve your goal. No longer will you think ‘I will take a whole day off for that 30-minute appointment because it is easier’ instead you think ‘no, I need to find another way to get to my appointment as I need to save the annual leave for my trip to Germany’.

An example of a photo taken with the GoPro Hero Session which is also waterproof

How to maximise your annual leave in 2020 – bank holidays

Annoyingly, the way the bank holidays fall in 2020 is not as great as they normally are, however, if you follow the plan listed below you can obtain 53 days holiday for 23 days of annual leave – not too bad at all. Of course, you need to get in quick before the rest of your team jumps in!

Take 8 days of annual leave at Easter for 16 consecutive days off work

Good Friday and Easter Monday fall on the 10th and 13th April next year, so if you take between 6th-9th April and 14th-17th April as annual leave, you’ll be out of work from 4th-19th April, thanks to the added days from weekends.

Take 4 days of annual leave twice in May for 18 days off work split over two separate weeks

May Bank Holiday will be changed slightly in 2020, with the first one being moved from Monday to Friday.  Take between 2nd-5th May as a holiday and you’ll have from 2nd-10th May off.

Use the second May bank holiday to book off 26th-29th May as annual leave to get 23rd-31st May as holiday.

Take four days of annual leave in September for nine days off work

The August Bank Holiday falls right at the end of the month on Monday 31st August, so if you take 1st-4th September as annual leave you’ll get 29th August – 6th September off to book a late-summer trip.

Take 7 days of annual leave over Christmas for 16 days off work

If you book 21st-24th December and 29th December – 1st January as a holiday, you’ll get from Saturday 19th December to Sunday 3rd January as holiday.

One thing to be aware of if you are planning to travel during the dates listed above is prices may be higher. A lot of these dates fall across children’s school holidays, therefore, weigh up the cost differences to see if it works out best for you.

None of these tips to maximises your annual leave are ground-breaking but they are all useful and will help you to travel more around your 9-5. My aim for this blog has always been to show you that frequent worldwide travel is accessible while still maintaining your career and hopefully these tips are helping you towards this.

Two-week travel itineraries for long haul destinations

2 Weeks in India
10 Days in Thailand
2 Weeks in Vietnam
2 Weeks in the USA: Atlanta to New Orleans
2 Weeks in Indonesia
10 days in South Africa

This is a collaborative post

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