When I think about planning a holiday, I get very, very excited. It may come as no surprise to those that know me well that I even have a spreadsheet in which I plan and calculate how many days of annual leave I have, or will have, at any point in time (what a nerd!)
In Australia, we have a standard twenty days of annual leave. That’s four weeks off work, people! My fellow piggies receive a fabulous five weeks of annual leave, about which I’m only mildly (OK, majorly) jealous. So, with all this leave up our sleeves every year, what’s the best way to use it?
The choice is mainly between two options: a few shortish trips, or save up your leave for one big, long trip. Here’s the low down on each.
A short trip can be a week or two weeks in duration. The best thing about them is that you can space them throughout the year so that you always have something fun to look forward to. It also allows you the opportunity to see a few different places, or have a variety of trips within the year. Take one week off and go on a dive trip to the Philippines. Do another week skiing in Canada. Spend another week on a road trip around New Zealand. Or just spend a week with the family camping by the beach.
These shorter trips can be a lot more affordable as well. You might only need to save up a few hundred dollars if travelling domestically, or a couple of grand for a week abroad.
On the flip side, the cost of all your trips added up over the year may end up costing more than one big trip, since you have to pay for many separate airfares. The worst bit of short trips though, is having to cram everything into a short space of time. You may end up compromising and whittling down your list of must-see or must-do things in half, particularly if you’re travelling with others, who may have a different list. Or if you aren’t prepared to cut things out of your trip, you may end up feeling rushed the whole time, which really just ends up being stressful and just the opposite outcome to what you had probably hoped for – a relaxing holiday!
Saving your annual leave to blow it on one big trip a year, or every two years is an exercise in long term planning. It will no doubt pay off when you have a great opportunity to see a country or continent at your leisure. You can then really immerse yourself in the culture, the history, or the natural beauty of the destination, rather than hammering through the place in the blink of an eye and miss out on getting to know the place and what makes it tick.
A long trip can also be pretty good bang for buck, as you’re usually just paying for one return long haul flight, and more land content or cheaper domestic fares in between. And if you’re travelling long haul, say to Europe from Australia, or South America from Europe, then you’ll definitely want more than a few weeks so that you can get over the jet lag and actually have a good time.
One big disadvantage of a long trip is that it can end up being a massive expense in total. In order to spend a month or two abroad, you may need to save up TEN big ones (that’s $10,000) or more! You will either need very good discipline to save up the cash beforehand, or otherwise be lumped with a scary credit card bill to pay off later.
The worst thing about using up all your annual leave in one go though, is having to wait another year for a holiday!! And that, of course, is just pure torture for itchy feet.