How to make the most of your annual leave in 2017

10 amazing trips for clever clogs who turn 9 days leave into 18 days off!

On 13 April this year, something rare, remarkable and incredibly beautiful is going to happen. A lunar eclipse, maybe? Nope. The Aurora Borealis appearing in the night sky over England? Of course not. A Sky Bet League One clash between Bury and Rochdale at Gigg Lane? Well, yeah, that’s happening too but it’s not what we’re interested in here.

Instead, the date marks the beginning of a glorious period in which canny travellers like you can get 18 days off work using just nine days of your annual leave. If you jet off after work on Thursday 13th April, you can make use of three bank holidays and three weekends to spread your valuable holiday allowance as far as it’s possible to stretch it. With that in mind, here are ten great trip ideas for maxing your 18 days off in style. Maybe don’t show it to your colleagues, in case they get there first…

See it all in Southeast Asia

There’s a good reason the countries of Southeast Asia have been a magnet for travellers for years – not only are they increasingly accessible and, for the most part, easy to get around, but each is packed with its own winning combo of beauty, culture, food and charm. From the hyper-modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to the compact, colonial streets of Hanoi in Vietnam, and the dazzling island-beaches of Thailand, there’s masses to see and do. Good luck squeezing the whole lot into just 18 days, though…

Book hotels in Phuket from £35 per room with Expedia

Hit the road in Australia

Sure, 18 days is a lot of time off, but nearly 3 million square miles is a lot of ground to cover – so if you’re heading to Australia you’ll need to be smart about it. We’d suggest a road trip, and it’s hard to beat the iconic journey from Sydney to Brisbane, which takes in beaches, lush national parks, serious wine country and buzzing cities. Party in Sydney, sip wine in the Hunter Valley, chill out in Newcastle and hit the beach in popular (for a reason) Byron Bay.

Fly from London to Perth with Etihad from £575

Kick back in Brazil

If the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics last year have got you salivating about the idea of a trip to Brazil, join the club. Your 18 days should be just enough to tick off a few of this vast country’s best bits, beginning in beautiful and gritty Rio de Janeiro (beach football and eye-wateringly strong caipirinha cocktails essential). From there, head south along the coast to the bohemian, ultra-chilled beach town of Paraty, before heading to huge and cosmopolitan Sao Paulo. Hang there for a couple of days, then catch a quick flight to the jaw-dropping cascading waters of the Iguaçu Falls, on the border with Argentina.

Build your perfect package with British Airways

Follow the cherry blossom in Japan

Few places on earth feel as otherworldly as Japan, where – no matter how much sushi you’ve had before you go – the food, culture and language will often make your brain spin, in a good way, we promise. Where better to kick off a trip than Tokyo, where modern and ancient, conservative and freaky, and familiar and alien all collide to brilliant effect. You should be just in time to catch the cherry blossom season – head north to follow it as it fills the country with colour (not to mention lots of people).

Save up to 60% on Tokyo hotels with Booking.com

Have a wild time in Kenya

You’ll be too early to catch the Great Migration, when huge herds of wildebeest and zebra journey from Tanzania into Kenya, but that – oddly – could be a good thing. April and May are low season in Kenya (it can rain), but that means great-value deals and the chance to see newborn animals – and the big five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino) will all be out in force on the Masai Mara. Once you’ve had your fill of wildlife, there’s a white-sand Indian Ocean beach with your name on it – go either side of Mombasa for epic coastline and luxe hotels.

Enjoy 15% off at Kilima Camp, Masai Mara when you book with Hotels.com

Go for gold in India

The original ‘find yourself’ destination is as big, bold and befuddling as it’s ever been – in a good way. Its sheer scale means 18 days won’t get you very far, so if you’ve never been before, the tried-and-tested Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur is your best bet. If you’re looking for a detour, you’ll find a great one in the holy city of Amritsar, where the Golden Temple draws sikh pilgrims and tourists to its dazzling spot on the Sarovar lake.

Book flights to India with Travel Trolley from £304 per person

Go la la in Los Angeles, USA

If you’ve gone la la for La La Land, it’s time you went to the City of Angels for a taste of the real thing. Once you’ve hung with the hipsters in Venice, hit the beach in Santa Monica and trawled the shops in Beverly Hills, go up in the world and make for the Griffith Observatory – home to one of the film’s most memorable scenes – and soak up the stellar views. To make the most of your time off, hire a Mustang and trace the coast north through laid-back Santa Barbara, stunning Big Sur and moneyed Carmel, and finish up in the vertiginous streets of San Francisco.

Save up to 15% at the Rotex Hotel (prices from £107 per person) when you book with Hotels.com

Get away from it all in Canada

Ask any clued-up traveller about the hottest cities to visit right now and we bet Toronto’s right at the top of that list. This chilled-out, cosmopolitan city has it all – a growing food scene, cool neighborhoods, and stunning lakeside beaches where city meets the great outdoors. From Toronto, it’s easy to get to Niagara, where you can check out the famous falls, plus plenty of vineyards and breweries, but for a real escape from real life go to Muskoka and Ontario’s lake country – a couple of hours’ drive north of Toronto – and take to the water in a kayak. Those 18 days will feel like 18 years.

Enjoy the luxury of Virgin Atlantic with regular flights to Canada from UK

Start a party in Mexico

Think you can party with the best of them? There’s nowhere better to prove it than Spring Break in Mexico, when college kids empty out of US campuses and onto the beaches and bars of Cancun and Acapulco, for serious dancing, heavyweight boozing and all-round shenanigans. Hit the Caribbean beaches of Cancun for a few days of sun-drenched raving, then drag yourself down the coast to Tulum for some well-earned R&R. There are loads of Mayan temples to check out, too, if you fancy trying out a different kind of getting ruined.

Flights + hotel from £605 per person when you book with eBookers

Go off (and on) the rails in Europe

The trouble with going long-haul is that your precious, hard-earned time off will be eaten into by changing timezones, loitering in airports and watching terrible movies on planes. Why not stay in Europe instead, where an Interrail pass gets you access to 30 different countries – and even when you’re travelling you can see them out of the window. If you want to get high, the Alps offer some of the most breathtaking scenery out there, though the west of Italy is tough to beat for beauty, beaches and big cities.

Book stays from £33 per night with Accor Hotels


All price and offer information correct at the time of publishing

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