With the season to be jolly far behind us now, and dark, damp and dreary days ahead for most people, it is as good a time as any to plan ahead and look towards future holidays and making the most of the time we might have off as the year progresses.
And with that in mind, what would you say if we told you there was a way you could have at least six different breaks of at least nine days duration over the course of the next year while only using 25 days of annual leave?
You’d probably say we were talking nonsense. But you’d be wrong. It is worth pointing out that the advice will only work for those who routinely get bank holidays and weekends off – our calculations include bookending leave periods with weekends. If you work in the healthcare sector, retail, certain public services or indeed the media, you might not be able to extend your work-free leave to the same extent.
But many workers, by judiciously exploiting bank holidays and timing holidays to coincide with them, could turn 25 days’ leave into more than 60 days work-free, when weekends are added into the mix.
And with an extra bank holiday to exploit this year as a result of the addition of a new free day in a post-Covid world – there is even a bit more flexibility as to when you might be able to take your breaks.
But with that said, off we go.
The first leave days you need to take fall in February. The new bank holiday this year will be on Monday, February 6th, so if you take four days leave from the Tuesday, you will get your first nine-day stretch without work, running from February 4th to February 12th inclusive, which includes two weekends.
Next up is Paddy’s Day. March 17th is a Friday this year, so if you take leave from March 13th you will see another four days of holidays turn into another nine consecutive days free from work.
Easter is a key time when it comes to making the most of your holiday entitlements. While Good Friday is not actually a bank holiday, it is a day many people are given off by their employer and if you are one of the lucky ones, take another eight days leave starting on Monday, April 3rd.
Good Friday is on April 7th, while the following Monday is the Easter Bank Holiday, so your eight days leave will amount to a 16-day period away from work.
The running total then is 16 days leave and three distinct holidays – two of nine days and one of 16 days, amounting to 34 in total.
And we haven’t even got to the summer time yet. The months ahead will mean there are choices to be made.
The May bank holiday falls this year on May 1st, so taking another four days off from May 2nd will give you another nine-day stretch while taking another four days off from Tuesday June 6th amounts to a break of the same length.
Alternatively you might want to hold off and take another four days for the August bank holiday, which will also amount to further nine days work-free. The other option would be to skip the May, June or August bank holiday weeks and take a break over the October bank holiday weekend instead.
The autumn bank holiday is on October 30th, so by booking October 31st to November 3rd off you get another decent stretch.
While another judiciously placed days leave taken on December 28th or 29th will see a person rewarded with another 10 days off in a row, presuming their employer does not make them work on whichever of those two days they do not take as annual leave – and given that we’re talking about the days after Christmas when many businesses remain closed there is a decent chance you will be able to take advantage of that to make your holidays work harder for you.
That means by carefully planning leave over the next 12 months a person who has a holiday entitlement of 25 days can actually have 62 days off of at least nine days each time including weekends. Although if that person is to be you, you might want to get your holiday requests in early and in advance of the rush.