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How to turn 28 days of leave into 60 days of travel 🌴

Planning a big getaway in 2019? Then make your annual leave go further by building a bank holiday (or two) into your plans. Here, we've outlined the key dates and destinations to aim for.

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How much annual leave am I entitled to?

Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.

When are the UK public holidays in 2019?

Bank holidays are different across the home nations of the UK, and if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you’ll get a couple of extra days off. Check the tables below for public holiday dates in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. You can find more information on the UK government website.

2019 Public holidays in England and Wales

PUBLIC HOLIDAY DATEDAYHOLIDAY
1st JanuaryTuesdayNew Year’s Day
19th AprilFridayGood Friday
22nd AprilMondayEaster Monday
6th MayMondayEarly May bank holiday
27th MayMondaySpring bank holiday
26th AugustMondaySummer bank holiday
25th DecemberWednesdayChristmas Day
26th DecemberThursdayBoxing Day

2019 Public holidays in Scotland

PUBLIC HOLIDAY DATEDAYHOLIDAY
1st JanuaryTuesdayNew Year’s Day
2nd JanuaryWednesday2nd January
19th AprilFridayGood Friday
6th MayMondayEarly May bank holiday
27th MayMondaySpring bank holiday
5th AugustMondaySummer bank holiday
2nd DecemberMondaySt Andrew’s Day
25th DecemberWednesdayChristmas Day
26th DecemberThursdayBoxing Day

2019 Public holidays in Northern Ireland

PUBLIC HOLIDAY DATEDAYHOLIDAY
1st JanuaryTuesdayNew Year’s Day
18th MarchMondaySt Patrick’s Day
19th AprilFridayGood Friday
22nd AprilMondayEaster Monday
6th MayMondayEarly May bank holiday
27th MayMondaySpring bank holiday
12th JulyFridayBattle of the Boyne
26th AugustMondaySummer bank holiday
25th DecemberWednesdayChristmas Day
26th DecemberThursdayBoxing Day

What’s the best way to stretch my time off?

Unfortunately, some workers’ contracts count public holidays as part of their 28 days of annual leave. But if yours doesn’t, then you can stretch your time off considerably by booking all your trips around them.

For example if you book April 15–18 and April 23–26 off, you’ll get a 16 day break and only use eight days of holiday, as it spans six weekend days as well as Good Friday and Easter Monday.

For bank holiday Mondays, the best strategy is to ask for the rest of  the week off. So in May, ask for the 7th to the 10th – this way you get 9 days of holiday for the price of four, if you factor in the weekends at either side.

How to plan longer breaks without using up your annual leave

Fly out on the Saturday before the bank holiday and home again on the following  Sunday. If you live in England or Wales, this is how you turn your annual leave into 59 days of holiday – and have one final day off to spare at the end of it too. That makes 60 days in total.

Using the same system, Scottish workers can get 61 days off. Workers in Northern Ireland will do even better, with 63 days off. They’ll have two bank holidays and one day of leave to spare at the end of it as well.

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Where to go over Easter

Amsterdam is just right for a spring city break. From buzzing nightlife to the seven million tulips, hyacinths and daffodils on display at the Keukenhof, there’s plenty to see and do. If you’re ready for further flora and fauna, South Africa is also calling, as Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg all have great weather around now, with minimal rain and average temperatures of 26°C as their summer draws to a close. Plan a safari in Kruger National Park or a road trip along the Garden Route into your plans and you’ve got the makings of varied and visually stunning trip.

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Where to go for the first May bank holiday

This is one of the best times to visit Portugal, as the weather isn’t too hot or cold. Stroll through colourful hipster neighbourhoods of Lisbon, sip wine in the Douro valley or kick back on one of the country’s epic beaches. Both Lisbon and Porto are ideal for short city breaks, but sun-worshippers should fly into Faro and explore the Algarve’s coast.

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Where to go for the second May bank holiday

Keep it Mediterranean with a beach break in Ibiza. It’s opening-party season in San Antonio, so if you’re craving a wild weekend blessed with sunshine, this is the spot. Meanwhile, in Sweden the long days create a giddy early-summer atmosphere – and there’s no better place to enjoy it than Stockholm, with picnics in the park, kayaking on the Riddarfjärden, and cycling along its elegant quays.

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Where to go for the August bank holidays

The best part of travelling during August is Europe’s beautiful weather. Make the most of it with a city break in Warsaw, where you can hop through the city museums, go open air clubbing in Berlin, or throw down your towel on one of Corsicas pristine white beaches. Make sure to book your flights early, as it’s peak season for school holidays.

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Where to go over Christmas and New Year

Enough of winter already? Then swap Europe’s chill for an average daily temperature of 29°C on the sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro – before extending your trip into the Amazon rainforest. But if it’s the Yuletide spirit you’re after, you can’t beat one of Europe’s Christmas Markets. Budapest lays on one of the most festive spreads, with cosy Christmas stalls and glittering window displays adding sparkle to the streets. Vörösmarty Square is the place to be for all things Christmassy come December 24th.

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Now you’ve got 2019 mapped out, find the cheapest flights over the bank holiday period by using our search tool. ✈️

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