How to Maximise Annual Leave in 2024
A new year is here, which means two things:
- You’re going to set a New Year’s resolution that you’ll get very excited about, follow for 3 weeks, and then toss aside like Aunt Mary’s Christmas cake, and
- you have more annual leave to plan
So, how will you use it? Will you blow it all at once on a holiday in the sun or use it wisely? If it’s the latter—and it should be!—there are some ways you can plot your annual leave to stretch it out and make it seem a lot longer.
Turn 4 days into 9 (Three Times!)
If you plan your annual leave around Bank Holidays you can turn 4 days into 9. On a Bank Holiday weekend, you’ll leave work on Friday night and will be out of the office from Saturday to Tuesday because of the Bank Holiday. Add four days of annual leave (Tuesday to Friday) to the mix, along with the following weekend, and that’s 9 days for the price of 4.
You’re limited to what you can do in 4 days, but 9 days is more than enough to enjoy a family holiday, a couples’ retreat by the beach, or even an extended city break. It also means you can delay your holiday until after the Bank Holiday, thus avoiding the chaos of travelling at the same time as everyone else.
There are three key travel dates where you can do this in 2024:
New Year’s Day: January 1st (take off Tuesday, January 2nd to Friday, January 5th)
Early May Bank Holiday: May 6th (take off Tuesday, May 7th to Friday, May 10th)
Spring May Bank Holiday: May 27th (take off Tuesday, May 28th to Friday, May 31th)
An Easter Blow-Out
Good Friday (March 29, 2024) and Easter Monday (April 1, 2024) turn the weekend into a 4-day break. It’s a great chance to see some family or book a short break without eating into your annual leave. But as above, millions of others will have the same idea, making for a pretty chaotic trip and some expensive travel prices.
By the time the 4 days are over, you’ll be broke, stressed, and almost ready for work. Instead, why not take it easy by booking off the preceding and following weeks, turning 8 days of annual leave into a 16-day holiday?
Simply book your annual leave from the 25th to the 28th of March and April 2nd to April 5th. You’ll leave work on the 22nd of March and won’t return until the 8th of April, giving you 16 full days.
You could have a couple of holidays in that time, or just do nothing for 16 days!
Plan for Next Christmas
Christmas Day 2024 falls on Wednesday, which means Boxing Day is Thursday and New Year’s Day 2025 is Wednesday. So, if you book annual leave on the days you should be working around the holidays—23rd, 24th, 27th, 30th, 31st—you’ll get a 12-day break for just 5 days of annual leave.
It’s another busy holiday period, but let’s be honest, Christmas and New Year are chaotic in most homes anyway, so we’re all usually numb to the chaos by then. Also, a busy train station or airport is often preferable to a room full of in-laws and distant relatives.
What are the Cheapest Destinations to Use Limited Annual Leave?
You might have bought yourself some extra days, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have the money to splash out on airport parking, flights, hotels, and attractions. So, if you’re looking to save some money while you use your annual leave, here are some low-cost holiday destinations:
- Krakow/Warsaw, Poland—You can get to cities like Warsaw and Krakow from most major UK airports, and tickets are usually very cheap. They are also cheap cities in general, unlike destinations like Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm, and Paris, which cost very little to visit but require you to re-mortgage your home if you want food and accommodation.
- Berlin, Germany—A surprisingly cheap destination. Many attractions are free and the food is some of the cheapest of all major European cities. Flights are available from numerous airports across the country (including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham) and can usually be picked up for less than £50.
- Budapest, Hungary—You can plan a holiday in Hungary for very little. Flights are cheap, accommodation isn’t too expensive, and you won’t pay more for food or attractions either. Budapest is also a very beautiful city with a lot to offer.
- Lisbon, Portugal—A beautiful city that won’t cost the earth. It’s one of the best value destinations in Europe and you can get there for less than £50 per person from several UK airports.
- Albania—You can go pretty much anywhere in Albania, as it’s a very cheap country on the whole. Flights aren’t too common, so you might be out of luck if you don’t live near a major city (you can fly direct from London, Manchester, and Edinburgh), but food, drink, and accommodation are cheap here.
- Sofia, Bulgaria: A gorgeous and underrated European city that won’t cost the earth. You can fly to Sofia direct from Manchester, London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Bristol for less than £100 in April and March, and that £100 will probably be one of the most expensive parts of the holiday.
If you’re prepared to venture further afield, you can also enjoy a budget holiday in destinations like Jamaica, Hong Kong, Belize, India, Peru, Bolivia, and Bali. Food and attractions are often very cheap in these locations. The problem is that you will pay a lot more for travel and if you stick with the tourist resorts, you may also be stung for accommodation. So, do your research and prepare to step off the beaten track, assuming it’s safe to do so in the country you visit.
Get More From Your Annual Leave in 2024
As you can see, a little careful planning is all it takes to stretch those days and create several big holiday periods for yourself in 2024. So, start booking those train tickets and plane tickets, start planning those road trips, and get ready for a 2024 full of budget city breaks, weekends by the sea, and cosy cabin adventures.
And remember, if you need to book cheap airport parking for any of those trips, we’ll be right here!