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How to turn 15 days of annual leave into 35 days off in 2021

Updated January 13, 2021

(Published October 30, 2019)

Annual leave is a precious thing. If you work full-time, you’re entitled to a minimum of 28 days’ paid leave (this can include bank holidays). But the grand scheme of a year – and especially following the stresses and uncertainty of 2020 – it’s not all that much for a bit of a break. However, if you’re savvy, you can make your annual leave go further.

With a bit of strategic booking, you could use just 15 of your days to get 35 days off over the course of 2021.

To stand the best chance of using this trick and netting as many consecutive days off possible, you’ll have to start looking ahead now, focussing on the Easter and Christmas breaks. Plus, don’t forget the other bank holidays on May 3, May 31 and August 30. But, you’ll have to act fast to get what you want. Here’s how to do it:

Turn 8 days into 16 over Easter

Just imagine what you could do with 16 days at your disposal. By April, as Covid-19 vaccines roll out across the UK and the rest of the world, your time off could have some serious getaway potential. A UK holiday or a local staycation may be one to bet on over Easter 2021, but if the global situation improves, you may even find some short-haul sun in destinations such as Lanzarote with its glorious beaches and otherworldly volcanic landscape.

Sound tempting? Here’s what you need to do to get the extra time off.

Easter Sunday falls on April 4 in 2021. So, go either side of the Friday and Monday bank holidays and take following days off: March 29, 30, 31 and April 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9. As a result, you’ll get from March 27 (a Saturday) to April 11 (a Sunday) off. That means 16 consecutive days off while using up only 8 days of your annual leave.


Turn 3 days in to 10 over Christmas

Credit: Dan Freeman | Unsplash

Many workplaces move onto autopilot over Christmas, so why not make the most of your holiday leave and book some time off? Wouldn’t your time be better spent driving Route 1 around Iceland, or celebrating the festive period Down Under in Australia, anyway? (Well, fingers crossed!)

As with Easter, you can use the bank holidays to your advantage. This year, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day all fall on the weekend so the bank holidays are rolled over to December 27 and 28, and January 3 respectively. Using these, you’ll turn three days in ten consecutive days off.

If you take December 29, 30 and 31 as holidays, you’ll enjoy 10 days of leave, returning on Tuesday, January 4 in 2022.


Turn 4 days into 9 over one other bank holiday

Credit: Med Edd | Unsplash

The other three bank holidays in 2021 are in May and August. They are:

For these, you can use your annual leave to extend a long weekend and travel at a less popular time. For the Early May bank holiday, for example, book May 4, 5, 6 and 7 off and you’ll be out of the office for nine consecutive days. You also stand a better chance of avoiding the usual bank holiday weekend crowds and price surges on that can affect flights by booking days off around the bank holiday.

And, if you take off the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the other two bank holidays as well, you’ll get a whopping 53 days off for 23 days of annual leave.


Book early to get the dates you want

It might seem a bit keen to start thinking about your 2021 holidays given the current travel restrictions, but if you want to maximise your annual leave to its full potential, you’ll need to be first out of the booking blocks. Even if overseas travel remains tricky, you’ll still benefit from a decent chunk of time off at home.

So, when your new annual leave year opens (most businesses run December to January or April to March), book what you want as quickly as you can to avoid clashes with other colleagues. It might not be possible to get both Easter and Christmas off, but there’s no harm in trying.

By planning your trips early, you’re less likely to lose your annual leave at the end of the year too. Recent research by staff leave planning software company Timetastic found that the average UK worker only uses 62% of their annual leave allowance each year. That equates to two billion hours of untaken holiday – think what you could do with that.

Even if your annual leave year runs from April to March, start planning now – it will come around sooner than you think. Plus, it will give you something to look forward to post-Christmas.

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