13:57 10 March 2013
If your annual leave year runs until the end of March, you now have a month to take the days off you are owed or you risk losing them forever. And, while I for one could happily take more than my allowance every year, many British workers consistently skimp on their days out of the office.
Here we talk to a TravelSupermarket employee who regularly forgets to use up his holiday allowance, and explain why days out of the office are so important.
A whopping 6.2million days of annual leave were lost in 2012
According to research by TravelSupermarket, at the end of last year, British employees threw away 6.2million days of annual leave. And, while you may think you’ll be looked on more favourably for staying in the office, these days equated to £500million in free days that we gave away as a nation.
So, don’t forget that your holidays are part of your employment package and, just like your salary, the more you work, the more you earn throughout the year. Even the most conscientious employees wouldn’t willingly give a chunk of their wage back every year – why should you look at your holidays any differently?
Barry Loughran, 25: “I never plan my holidays and lost 3.5 days last year”
Barry Loughran is self-admittedly bad at planning his time out of the office and in 2012 he ended up cramming 10 of his days out of the office into December – he also lost three-and-a-half days that he just couldn’t fit in.
Barry explains: “I don’t usually go on holiday, so I use my days off as and when I can for more practical reasons. Days off are OK, they help me get things done.”
However, Barry is aware that he’s not using his holidays to their full potential and said that if he could take the holidays he lost last year he would spend them “relaxing at home with my family, doing a little DIY and definitely going on a few family days out.”
And part of the reason Barry didn’t take all of the time he was owed last year was due to the fact that he doesn’t plan them at all.
Put days out on your to-do list
If, like Barry, you are guilty of leaving it to the very last minute to plan your days off, you may find that, due to work commitments or other colleagues being off at the same time, you simply can’t take all of the days you are entitled to.
To prevent this, put booking days off onto your work to-do list and treat it as you would any other task. Not only will this ensure that you get the days off you want, it will help your colleagues and boss to plan their year too, so they may actually thank you.
Days out don’t necessarily have to be saved for a two-week holiday in the sun, so think creatively about how you’ll use yours. For example, why not extend a weekend to enjoy a short spring break in the UK or Europe? You can read our top 10 suggestions for a spring break here.
Or, why not book some time off to do the things you never get around to at the weekend? When was the last time you spent some quality time with your family or got the chance to have a whole day watching your favourite DVD box-set guilt-free?
It’s important to switch off
If you can’t remember the last time you switched off, then a holiday – where you allow yourself at least a few days without checking your work email – could do you a world of good. Booking a few days or even a few weeks away from your daily routine could force you to switch off completely.
Recent research from TravelSupermarket revealed that 18% of Brits relax as soon as they leave home for a holiday while a further quarter (26%) relax when they reach their destination. And for 18% of Brits, a good night’s sleep after they have arrived is what it takes for relaxation to kick in.
If you struggle to relax when you’re away, take a look at our favourite beaches post – could you be anything other than laidback on them?
Holidays could actually make you more productive
The chances are that you’ll return from a week or two out of the office with a spring in your step and a clearer head than you left with. And, with a different mindset, you may be able look at tasks that seemed overwhelming before you left in a different light.
So, think of this the next time you decide to work a few extra days for free – you may actually be doing your boss a favour by taking some time out, as being in the office every day doesn’t necessarily make you productive.
You CAN afford a holiday
If you’re worried that you can’t afford to go on holiday, but you really want to get away, take a look at your daily expenses to see if you make a few cutbacks.
For example, we asked 5,000 holidaymakers what they would be willing to do to afford a holiday and 43% said that they would forgo daily luxuries such as a coffee on the way to work or lunches out, while 44% said that they would be willing to cut back on new clothes.
These habits can be very costly as Clare Walsh explains in her article ‘Life’s top 20 money-wasters’. Did you know that your daily coffee on the way to work could be costing you £516 a year? That’s enough to snap up a week-long summer holiday for two to Tenerife…
Please note: All deals and prices were correct at the time of writing.
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