If, like me, you work full-time whilst planning every next adventure, then you know it’s important to maximise your annual leave.  It seems every year that there are not enough days to go exploring but with today’s current climate it is never worth the risk of taking holiday unpaid.


I first started thinking about maximising my annual leave when I moved to London, 3 years ago. It’s no secret that this city is expensive! So taking unpaid leave or buying additional holiday days was out of the question. So I started thinking about how I could make the most of my annual leave with what I had available. I’m aware that this might be a lot harder in the U.S. where you tend to have less annual leave than we do in the U.K., plus if there are different holidays, it could make it very U.K. specific! But alas, this is what we have to do. I’ve done a little research and found a few ways that you can fully maximise your annual leave next year for optimum traveling time!


Annoyingly, this year and last we had SUCH good bank holidays around Christmas time, which are smack back in the middle of the week next year, but we can make this work, people.


Also, disclaimer – this will probably only work if you don’t have a maximum of time you can take off work at any given point, and if you don’t work weekends. This is all I have experience of, so I’ve tried my best! Let me know if you’ve deducted any clever ways to maximising your annual leave!


Take 8 Days Off for a 16 day Holiday

Easter falls around late March early April next year, so you can double your holiday time by taking off the Monday 26th-29th and Tuesday 3rd-6th. Perfect for a little mid-season jaunt, don’t you think? This is great as well for the budget conscious, as flying out on the 23rd March anywhere is a lot cheaper than flying out on the 30th!

Take 3 Days off for 10 day holiday

If Christmas holidays are your thing, and you have a little wiggle room this year, then take off the 27-29th December for a return on the 2nd January, so you can have a truly refreshing Christmas!

Take 14 Days off for a 24 day holiday

Planning a once in a lifetime holiday? Those trips take up a LOT of annual leave, so you know that every single day of leave counts! 14 days sounds a lot, but if you’re getting a 24 day holiday in return, that’s nearly a month! For this deal, take off the 8th-25th May with Tuesday 29th being your first day back. I always knew there were 2 bank holidays in May for a reason…

Take 4 Days off for a 12 Day Holiday

For Christmas 2018, taking off Christmas Eve, then the 27th, 28th and 31st December will give you a nice nearly 2 week time to relax, or jet abroad for some winter sun. What a way to start off 2019, right?

How to maximise your annual leave in 2018

So if you’ve read my 2 week itinerary for Italy (if you haven’t, then WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME), then you might be thinking, “but Mikaela, how DID you travel by train for 2 weeks with ALL that luggage?!”


Hint: I didn’t.


I didn’t wear the same thing all holiday, if that’s what you’re thinking. All I took was 1 hand luggage suitcase. Yep, for 2 weeks. But it’s definitely do-able, with so much more freedom than having to roll around a big suitcase everywhere.

Packing Hand Luggage for 2 Weeks Packing Hand Luggage For 2 Weeks

Evidence of me wearing different clothes. I promise I wasn’t smelly.


It took a little preparation, mentally more than anything. For the modern traveller, we’re so used to packing everything including the kitchen sink, so challenging myself to take 2 weeks worth of clothes in a cabin sized luggage case felt quite refreshing.


If the idea takes your fancy, I’ve compiled a few top tips for packing hand luggage for 2 weeks:

Measure Up

I may have taken hand luggage, but I’m not a fool. When you’ve booked your flights, check the airline’s requirements for hand luggage, then search for hand luggage that absolutely maximises this.

Multi-Tasking Clothes

PRIORITISE! I mean it, people! Do you really need a pair of jeans for every day of a 2 week holiday in 30 degree temperatures? Take it from me, loosely fitting clothes will be a lifesaver when exploring somewhere all day. Plus, if you’re less likely to sweat then you can wear them more than once!

Check the Weather

Following the above note, check the weather forecast of every place you’re going to about a week beforehand. I used the iPhone app to add every location to my phone, but I don’t find it very reliable. Accuweather has an extended forecast, but you can also search for average temperatures. There’s no need to pack a jumper ‘in case it’s chilly’ when it hasn’t been chilly since the dawn of time.

Comfy Shoes

This should be common sense, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who pack a pair of fancy heels for the evening then never wear them. If you’re walking around a lot, trainers and sandals are your best friends, plus if you’re near water or a beach, waterproof sandals are a life saver! No-one wants soggy bottom trainers.

Roll, Don’t Fold

I was sceptical of this when I read about it before my trip – but rolling your clothes is a great way of saving space, and it helps keep more wrinkles out than if you fold! It also means that you can utilise those areas of empty space, like inside shoes, and awkward angles, to maximise packing space.


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