So I’ve just recently returned to work after a two week holiday in Sri Lanka. Surfing, eating curry, drinking banana juice.

It was my first holiday since I’ve been back at work, besides the mandatory time off over Christmas last year while the office was closed.

It was great to have again the freedom to choose what I was going to spend time on during the week and I couldn’t believe it had been so long since I’d taken time off.

I realised that if I’m going to have any chance of staying at work until I reach retire I need to come up with a regular, sustainable way to take time off.

I thought about this a lot and decided my goal is to have reasonably regular holidays. I’d rather have 4 x 1 week holidays per year with 3 months of work in-between than 1 x 4 week holiday per year with 11 months of uninterrupted work.

By taking 1 week of leave you get 5 days off plus 4 days of weekends. The weekends work out to be a bonus of 44%. Whereas if you take 2 weeks of leave you get 10 days off plus 6 days of weekends, where the bonus weekends are 37.5%. Taking holidays longer than 1 week reduces your weekend bonus as a percentage.

Before any holiday I always find that I work twice as hard the week before and after the holiday. I think if my holidays were in general only a week the extra effort before and after would be minimised. If I work out a years worth of holidays now I can also block out my calendar so everyone has plenty of notice which should also help.

So the constraints I have to work with are

- 4 weeks of annual leave per year
- The office closes for 2 weeks after Christmas inclusive of new years, taking this leave is mandatory.

The mandatory 2 weeks off over Christmas has 3 public holidays in those 2 weeks, so this consumes 7 days of leave out of a total 20 per year.

I came up with an idea that if I found another two public holidays that I could wrap a week of leave around it would turn 4 weeks of holiday per year into 5 weeks of holiday per year, 2 weeks at christmas and one week spaced out evenly roughly every 3 months.

A quick google of Queensland public holidays turned up this: Queensland public holidays 2017/2018

Next thing was to Google the school holiday dates and cross reference with the public holidays to make sure I wasn’t going to be camping with 500 people next door on my holidays.

For me the optimum dates turned out to be :

- Christmas 2017 – 23/12/17 until the 7/1/17. 2 weeks including 3 public holidays
- 21st to 29th of April 2018. This includes the Anzac day public holiday.
- 11th to 19th of August. This includes the Ekka day public holiday.
- 3rd to 11th of November.

So there you have it, 4 weeks of annual leave per year optimised into 5 weeks with the added bonus of not holidaying during school holidays.

I’m sure a lot of people have already worked this kind of thing out, but I thought I’d share for others who may be slow like me.