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How to maximise your annual leave allowance for 2020

How to maximise your annual leave allowance for 2020

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point in your life you’ve allowed yourself to daydream about a life of perpetual travel with your family? No work, no mortgage, just trip after trip, returning home only to check-in with the real world and plan the next adventure.

Alas, for the majority of us, it’ll remain just that; a daydream (reminder to self – must buy a lottery ticket this week). Even if you have managed an extended trip for six months or a year, there has probably come a point where you’ve put down some roots, found a proper job and started earning money again to pay for ‘grown-up’ things like mortgages and pensions. Throw the kids into the mix and suddenly the likelihood of upping sticks, tearing up roots and disappearing for never-ending travels becomes even more complicated.

One day we’ll become digital nomadic homeschoolers right? 😉

The trick is to realign your expectations and work with what you’ve got. It’s common for workers in the UK to have twenty-five days of annual leave, so with a little bit of juggling and compromising, it’s possible to turn those days into something substantial.

And if you’re travelling before the kids start full-time education, you have the flexibility to travel during the school term when most travel and accommodation is cheaper. Read why preschool is the best age to travel with kids.

We travel a lot as a family and even though my work as a blogger is flexible, hubby is in ‘normal’ full time employment and the boys are in school. The two most frequently asked questions we receive are:

  • How do we afford to travel so much – click here for our answer to that one
  • How to we find the time to travel so much
Tanzania itinerary with kids
Our last long term travel adventure was 101 days overlanding Africa in a Land Rover.

However kids in the UK do actually get A LOT of holiday time. I think it’s about 13 weeks, and we are happy to take them out for the odds days here and there during school term for travel. So our main time constraints are with my husband’s work.

Managing Daddy Lynn’s annual leave allowance has seemingly become an artform, so I thought I’d share our tips with you.

There’s no magic wand unfortunately. Pretty much all of our suggestions are straightforward, but hopefully there is something here you haven’t thought of, even if you work in education, have school-aged kids and are limited to travel during the expensive school holidays.

Poon Hill with kids
Standing on top of the world at Poon Hill (3210m) in Nepal’s Himalayas.

Make use of Bank Holidays

Those bank holiday days are free holiday days! Use them. Take the four days off after a bank holiday Monday and if you leave on the Friday night before, and return the following Sunday, that’s a 10 night holiday.

I’ve been looking at dates for next year and you can take an 11-day holiday by booking 5 days off between 9 April and 19 April. This nicely coincides with the school holidays. If you aren’t constrained with school terms, you can enjoy an 18-day holiday in May by booking 10 days off between 8 May and 25 May.

And this is one a year from now, but you can take an 8 day holiday by booking 2 days off between 28th December 2020 and 4th January 2021!

It may be more expensive to travel at this time, but if more holidays are what you’re after, then every day counts. But if you’re in the UK, there is always the option of loading the car with camping gear and getting the ferry across to France for the May bank holidays.

river beach in France and two boys
May bank holiday in the French Dordogne.

Depart and return from your travels at the earliest and latest opportunity

Have the bags packed and everyone ready to go so that when you finish work, you can be on your way. This requires forward planning and organisation earlier in the week, but it’s worth it. It’ll open up lots of possibilities for sneaking extra time at the beginning of the trip.

Or perhaps catch that early morning flight you’ve always ignored by leaving for the airport the night before and staying in an airport hotel (sometimes it’s not much more expensive to stay and park at the hotel versus long-stay parking at the airport). Of course, if you’re looking for last minute airport parking, then do your research to help find the best possible prices. If you’re taking a driving holiday it just means you’re on your way sooner.

For the return journey, consider arriving home the morning you’re due back at work. This sounds rather hard core, but we’ve found it works with a bit of organisation; make sure the kids’ school stuff if ready to go and don’t plan too much for the following days on return.

Book a few long weekend breaks

It’s amazing how much you can fit into a long weekend by only taking off one or two working days either side; it can be just as restorative and exciting as a two week long holiday. Although you may want to limit travel time to a 2 hour flight or 3 hour drive, so as to maximise exploring time.

boy jumping at Puy du Fou
A short weekend break to Puy du Fou in France. We left on the Friday night and returned on the Sunday.

Take annual leave days from the following year

It means you have fewer days the following year but if you find yourself booking a holiday somewhere amazing and thinking, ‘I wish I had just a little more time there’, then many companies are open to borrowing a few days from the following year. Also consider taking unpaid leave if the company allows it and you can afford it.

Book your annual leave as early as possible

This increases your chance of having annual leave dates approved by the boss. Many companies only allow you to take 2 weeks off at a time but if you give them enough notice (perhaps a year), they may be open to you taking three or four weeks in one go. Whilst this means you are using most of your annual leave for one trip, the reward is that you can explore a destination in more depth, go even further off the beaten track, or travel to the other side of the world and have time to properly get over the jet lag.

overlanding Africa with kids
Hiking Mount Mulanje in Malawi.

Book your travel as early as possible

Early booking usually means you have first pick on the best deals for airfares and accommodation, and also provides better choice on travel dates. If you are following some of the tips above, it’s likely that you are going to be very specific on the dates and times that you can travel and won’t have as much flexibility.

Utilise your shared paternity leave (SPL)

SPL was recently introduced in the UK to allow parents the right to share up to 50 weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child. It means that a couple can split the time how they wish, taking it together or separately. For SPL to start, the mother must end her maternity leave (more information can be found here). Some parents are even overlapping Mum’s accrued annual leave with Dad’s SPL. What better way to bond as a young family than travelling the world (or at least some of it) together?!

You may also like to read:
How we afford to travel with kids
Family adventure travel ideas for 2020
12 New Year’s travel resolutions for 2020