Using just seven days of holiday over the Christmas period could mean a massive 16 days off starting this Friday – if you use this savvy technique.
Three bank holidays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, combine with three weekends to dramatically reduce the number of days you need to take out of your annual leave allowance.
But before you get too smug, it’s worth remembering that you’ll still have to battle against another 18million drivers trying to make it home for the festivities.
Three bank holidays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, combine with three weekends to dramatically reduce the number of days you need to take out of your annual leave allowance
This year, Christmas comes on a Wednesday, with Tuesday December 24 a working day for most.
Christmas Eve is immediately followed by two Bank Holidays, which are in turn followed by one working day.
The weekend of December 28 and 29 precedes a working day with New Year’s Eve on the Tuesday, with the Wednesday also being a Bank Holiday.
That means that booking off December 23, 24, 27, 30, 31 would get you 12 days off work, while if you add in January 2 and 3 you get a whopping 16 days.
Thankfully, Christmas falling on a Wednesday means drivers are likely to face less congestion, according to the AA, but they’ll still be plenty of traffic to contend with.
The motoring organisation says the mid-week Christmas Day means visits to family and friends could be more spread out than normal.
What dates you need to book off to get a 16-day holiday this Christmas
Weekend of 21 to 22
Mon, Tues 23 and 24 – BOOK OFF
Christmas Day, Boxing Day – Bank holiday
Friday 27 – BOOK OFF
Weekend of 28 to 29
Mon, Tues 30 to 31 – BOOK OFF
New Year’s Day – Bank holiday
Thurs, Fri 2 and 3 – BOOK OFF
Its survey of nearly 18,000 motorists suggested December 19 and 20 – the Thursday and Friday before Christmas Day – will be the worst for traffic jams as 53 per cent and 52 per cent respectively plan to drive on main roads and motorways.
That equates to more than 17 million people hitting the roads each day.
Among those setting off will be people making an early festive getaway, last-minute shoppers and regular commuters.
Traffic is expected to reach a peak on December 20 after 4pm. Some of the worst congestion will be seen on the M5 between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare, and the M6 around Birmingham.
Stretches of the M1 from Luton northwards and the M62 and M60 in the North West can also suffer from heavy traffic due to incidents and breakdowns.
The AA survey suggests December 23 will be the third busiest festive day on the roads with 48 per cent of drivers planning to use their car, followed by Christmas Eve (46 per cent).
The Saturday before Christmas Day will be the biggest day for shopping trips, with almost one in four drivers (24 per cent) planning an outing.
Christmas Day is likely to be one of the quietest days for traffic as just 33 per cent of motorists say they will be making a journey.
Ben Sheridan, of the AA, said: ‘Check the traffic reports before you leave and try to travel when it’s quieter if you can, or consider taking a different route to beat the jams.
‘The good news is that Christmas falling mid-week may help to spread journeys out. We still expect peaks in traffic as the staggered getaway from work and school is followed by last-minute shopping trips on Saturday, but visits to friends and family are more likely to even out over the week.’
But before you get too smug, it’s worth remembering that you’ll still have to battle against another 18million drivers trying to make it home for the festivities. File photo
Mr Sheridan added that drivers should carry out basic checks before embarking on long journeys to help avoid a breakdown.
This includes tyres, fuel, lights, engine oil, windscreen washer fluid and anti-freeze.
Train journeys could also take longer than expected with Network Rail carrying out 386 engineering projects over the festive period.
Services in the South East will be worst hit by the closure of rail lines.
London Paddington will be shut from December 24-27 and a reduced timetable will be in place over the following four days as Network Rail carries out Crossrail work, affecting Great Western Railway, Heathrow Express and TfL Rail services.
Major upgrade works are also taking place at London King’s Cross.
The majority will be carried out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – when most of the rail network is shut down every year – but there will also be limited trains from the station during the morning of December 27.
Other engineering work means Southeastern Highspeed and Eurostar trains will not stop at Ashford, Kent between December 26-29.
There are around 25 per cent fewer engineers working this Christmas compared with 2018, meaning more lines and services will operate as normal.
Network Rail says doing work over bank holiday periods minimises the impact on passengers as trains are up to 50 per cent quieter than usual.