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A measly 20 days a year. That’s all we get to retreat from the office, jump on a plane and escape our Outlook accounts.
When time off is precious, its little wonder Aussie employees guard their holiday leave. According to Expedia’s global ‘Vacation Deprivation’ report, Australians have an average of five unused annual leave days owing each year. 37% take fewer annual leave days than they receive, with 11% taking no leave days at all. That’s a helluva lot of mojitos going un-drunk on the beaches of Mexico.
Whether you’re scrimping and saving for a getaway, or have accrued more annual leave than you know what to do with, here are four ways you can make the most of them measly 20 days per annum in 2016.
A survey conducted by Skift and American Express in 2014 found 32.7% of the interviewed travellers would extend a business trip to explore their destination. So, why not mix a little business with pleasure?
Ian Connellan, editor-in-chief of Australian Geographic, and partner of travel website, Curious Traveller, believes there’s no better way to use your leave to see more of the world.
“Leveraging the time that you’re travelling for business is a smart way of working through your annual leave” he says. “When taking a business trip, think about staying on for a few days and making the most of it.”
If you’re a frequent flyer, look for opportunities to use up hotel loyalty points or frequent flyer miles to subsidise your stay. Ian also suggests taking out annual travel insurance which provides coverage each time you embark on a new journey throughout the year.
“This is exactly why we take out an annual multi-trip policy with Travel Insurance Direct,” he says. “We renew annually and don’t have to think about organising travel insurance every time we go away.”
If travelling for business, always check that your work travel insurance still covers your leave if you stay on after your business trip ends. You can get coverage through TID for as few as 3 days – just enough to cover your free time.
Public holidays are a great excuse to make a long weekend a little longer. Add an extra day or two of annual leave either side of Saturday and Sunday and you’ve got yourself a fully-fledged mini-break.
Forget organising a cycling tour of the Canberra monuments and think a bit bigger. Pack a carry-on bag, pull out your passport and put yourself on a red-eye flight. New Zealand, New Caledonia and Fiji are all a four-hour trip from Australia’s east coast and can give you that little bit of extra distance from the office.
“A long weekend is the perfect amount of time to get away, while still allowing you enough annual leave to take those longer trips later in the year,” says Ian. “What price can you put on returning to the office after having sat on the beach or walked through the wilderness? You’ve rested, reset your goals, got new ideas and are ready to work again.”
What’s the point of taking one week off when you can take two?
10 days of annual leave allows you to escape for a fortnight’s worth of adventure, so you don’t want to waste too much time in transit. With the likes of Vietnam, Hong Kong and China floating 10hrs off the coast of Australia, working your way through Asia can make for the perfect escape. Get a jump on your street smarts with TID’s free travel app, Tripwise which can help you familiarise with local customs, phrases and travel tips as you move across multiple countries.
Rod Farrington, owner of Kudos Villas & Retreats in Daylesford, is a frequent traveller for both business and pleasure. However, being a family-man means he has a few extra travel companions to cater for. Rod recommends planning your family holiday as early as possible to avoid excessive airfares and accommodation prices.
“Try and plan 6 months in advance,” he says. “Also consider taking your children out of school a day or two early, when the cost of airflights can be much cheaper.”
When you live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a million miles from anywhere, it’s no surprise many Aussies put in the hard yards so they can take their 20 days in one, big, month-long extravaganza.
“It’s a good way to do it,” says Ian. “Work hard for 11 months, and then get away for one month. We often forget how lucky we are to be able to save up the leave we’re entitled to and go somewhere really special. There are so many amazing things you can do with that time.”
With 4 weeks leave up your sleeve, the world is your oyster. Go and soak up as much of the South American summer as you can, hike the Mont Blanc circuit or tour your way through Europe. Spend a few weeks snowboarding fresh powder in the Alps, and then eat your way through Belgium.
With 94% of Australians feeling better rested after a holiday, and 91% feeling happier, submitting your annual leave form could be the best decision you make today.