Get more out of your annual leave by planning in advance. These tips are so good, it feels illegal to know them.
DREAMING up your next getaway but limited when it comes to annual leave? Don’t worry, with these savvy tips, you can stretch your holidays further in 2024.
This can be done by aligning public holidays and finding travel bargains at optimal moments.
If you’re planning to get the most out of your holidays, this is how you can maximise your annual leave:
South African Public Holidays 2024
The Public Holidays Act plays a pivotal role in shaping the 2024 calendar. This act stipulates that when a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday becomes a bonus holiday.
So, start by pencilling in the official 2024 public holidays:
– Thursday 21 March – Human Rights Day
– Friday 29 March – Good Friday
– Monday 1 April – Family Day
– Saturday 27 April – Freedom Day
– Wednesday 1 May – Workers Day
– Sunday 16 June – Youth Day, observed Monday 17 June
– Friday 9 August – National Women’s Day
– Tuesday 24 September – Heritage Day
– Monday 16 December – Day of Reconciliation
– Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
– Thursday 26 December – Day of Goodwill
Note: The lunar cycle determines the exact dates of the Easter weekend.
2024 is a leap year, so Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday, not the Tuesday that may have been otherwise expected.
How to maximise those long weekends
Once you’ve pinned the public holidays, look for opportunities to take on leave around long weekends.
A prime chance comes hopping with the Easter bunny in April, where if you take Thursday (28 March) off, including April 2 and 3, and this will give you 7 days off.
By taking off just four additional days from 29 April to 3 May, you can stretch the holiday into an indulgent 9-day getaway.
September also allows for lengthening a long weekend. Consider taking leave on the day following Heritage Day, to relish a relaxing five-day break of braais, sunshine and swimming.
The mother-load of holiday hacking happens in December.
Why not look into taking leave from December 13 – 27 and you’ll be off an astonishing 16 straight days thanks to the 4 consecutive public holidays.
Travel tips from the experts
According to Antoinette Turner, GM of Flight Centre South Africa, booking your flights at least six months in advance for domestic travel will give you first choice and the widest array of options, especially when travelling over peak periods.
“For international trips, book as far as 12 to 18 months ahead, especially if your holiday comprises of a number of elements such as flights, cruises, accommodation in popular cities,” she said.
When it comes to having an unforgettable festive, Turner recommended locking down flights by the end of May for December getaways.
“Prospective travellers won’t believe how quickly December and January flights and accommodation get booked up, especially locally,” she said.
The Flight Centre South Africa GM also highlighted that for safari-goers, booking by January/February will secure the best rates on peak winter travel from May to September.
Turner also revealed that the beginning of the year is also the ideal time to book autumn escapes, such as wine tasting in the Cape, when the crowds have thinned after the summer rush.
For accommodation, she advised booking at least two to three months ahead when availability is widest but six to 12 months in advance to nab coveted holiday home rentals.
“For families with young kids, you have a special advantage. Children in crèche or pre- primary school are not bound by school terms.
“Take leave during the low season, outside of the school holidays, for better prices, more options and flexibility all around. Invite the grandparents, too, for a multigenerational holiday,” Turner advised.
Turner added that being mindful of peak season dates is a savvy travel hack that can really help you stretch those bucks.
“If you have flexibility and can travel outside of peak season holidays, definitely opt for that for better pricing and more options all around,” she said.