How To Hack Your 2018 Annual Leave For Extra Days Off

When was the last time you had a really good holiday? If you’re currently scratching your head, take note: With a little strategic planning, it’s possible to score five luxurious vacations totalling more than eight weeks off work without resorting to unpaid leave. Here’s how to pull it off.

Despite loving a good holiday, Australians aren’t great at taking annual leave. A recent study by online travel site Expedia discovered that in 2017, nearly half of full-time Aussie workers left 20 per cent of their annual leave on the table. This means many of us only take 15 of the 20 days of annual leave entitlements.

Clearly, Australians are failing to strike a good work/life balance, particularly when it comes to taking holidays. In 2018, Expedia is urging Aussies to use their full annual leave allotment in a bid to improve our overall happiness and health.

While a long, extended holiday is great for unwinding, convincing your employer can be tricky: many businesses prefer employees to take annual leave in two or three separate batches as opposed to everything in one go. Thankfully, it’s possible to do this while still enjoying a decent break from work – the trick is to group your leave around specific public holidays.

We asked Expedia to break down some annual leave/public holiday combos for our readers to follow. Here are their suggestions. They’ve also helpfully included some holiday destinations.


“Easter is the biggest hack of the 2018 calendar – by taking 8 annual leave days, you get 16 holidays days. This is a busy time of year so make sure you plan in advance.”

Take: 16 days – 24-8 April

Where to go: “How about the Caribbean? April is a fantastic time to head to this part of the world. The east coast of Mexico or the Bahamas are very warm in April, so Aussies can have an extended summer.”


“ANZAC Day falls mid-week so take two days either side to maximize your leave and end up with a nine day break.”

Take: 9 days – 21-29 April

Where to go: “April is the tail-end of the dry season for many South-East Asian destinations. Why not Fiji or Thailand for nine days of lush, tropical paradise.”

Queen’s Birthday

“Long weekends are fantastic. Take one day of annual leave and you get four days off, or if you feel like a longer break use four days and have nine holiday days. If taking a long weekend, we recommend taking the Tuesday off rather than the Friday. This will save you money on flights and you avoid business travellers.”

Take: 4 days – 9-12 June

Where to go: “Nip up to Byron for a quick local getaway. Flights are reasonably priced, and it will still be warm in that part of Australia. Being in Byron will help you switch off and enjoy the time away from work.”

NSW Labour Day

“Turn this long weekend into a decent sized getaway by taking four annual leave days and having nine holiday days. Nine days is a great length to go on an international trip, and a great time of year to enjoy the landscape across the ditch.”

Take: 9 days – 29-7 October

Get: 10 days off.

Where to go: “The tail end of the ski season is a great time to head to Queenstown. With discounted flights and accommodation post peak ski-season prices. If not, Queenstown has plenty to offer aside from stunning landscape, including amazing food, wine and adventure.”

Christmas/New Year

“Christmas can be a stressful time of year, so plan in advance to get good prices and peace of mind. By taking four annual leave days, you get 11 days off but if you have more annual leave saved up, take a longer break starting in mid-December.”

Take: 11 days – 22 December – 1 January

Where to go:Northern hemisphere is a must of Australians, it is so different to our traditional warm weather, it has a magical feel. London truly is spectacular during the festive period, plus the rest of Europe is on your doorstep.

Not bad, eh? Using the above tactics, you’ve effectively more than doubled your holiday allotment and are no poorer for it. Or to put it another way, you score 42 days away from work by using just 20 days of annual leave.

Of course, there’s one notable flaw to this strategy – accommodation and travel expenses tend to be pricier during public holidays. Nevertheless, even if you just plan to bum around the house, this is a pretty clever way to stretch your leave out.

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