How to turn 20 days of annual leave into 44 days holiday in NI in 2024

Planning around Northern Ireland bank holidays, Easter, and Christmas, in particular, can squeeze a surprising amount out of your annual leave.

Given all the talk of alternative holiday strategies following the heatwaves and soaring costs of travel this summer, here’s a look at what that kind of creative planning could mean in 2024 (depending on your annual leave and employer’s policy).

First up, bank holidays. St. Patrick’s Day is one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated holidays, and it falls on Monday, March 18 in 2024 (a substitute for Sunday, March 17).

As a rule of thumb, booking the Friday before and the Tuesday after a bank holiday may get you a five-day break for just two days’ leave. This one is a sweet spot for a city trip or a quick getaway.

The next step is some savvy travel planning. When flying over weekends, the earlier you lock in flights the better, and costs drop if you avoid peak flows – busy events or return flights on Sundays, for example. Looking at the upcoming bank holidays and travel opportunities in 2024, we can discover some fantastic deals.

For instance, examining travel options from around Easter which falls in late March/early April. If you book of one day either side of March 31 to April 1 this will give you five full days off.

Booking the Friday off before Monday May 27, the Spring Bank Holiday will get you 4 full days off work.

The Twelfth of July falls on a Friday this year, meaning some options may be limited, but again, if you book off Monday 15 July, this again, gives you four days as is the case with the last Summer Bank Holiday, which falls on Monday 26 August.

Christmas falls on a Wednesday in 2024 (it was a Monday last year, and 2024 is a leap year).

Boxing Day is also a bank holiday, so if you book December 23, 24, and 27 as annual leave, you’ll secure a stretch of nine days off.

Factoring in New Year’s Day the following week, booking Monday and Tuesday (December 30 and 31) gives you 12 days off for just five days of annual leave. Add Thursday and Friday (January 2 & 3), and you’ve got 15 days off for seven days’ leave.

Twenty days is the average annual leave in Northern Ireland. Some of us have less, some more, and of course, school holidays will factor into family plans.

But totting the above up, taking five days in March, 10 in June, and 12 at Christmas, you could easily get 44 days for 20.

Not bad for a bit of back-of-the-envelope planning. So, while it might not be a true “hack,” smart planning can certainly make your annual leave stretch much further in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph Life