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Hack the leave 2023 AU: can you turn 23 days of annual leave into 57 with these bank holiday hacks?

young travellers in Greece

International travel was well and truly back in 2022 (hallelujah), with many Aussies keen to break out and explore beyond their own backyard. After years of paused travel plans, our bucket lists are also longer than ever – and we don’t want to wait another moment, 2023 is the year we start ticking items off.

But how are you meant to fit in all of these life-changing trips? Most Aussies working a full-time job are entitled to 20 days of annual leave each year, and while of course we’d love a few more, this is pretty good compared to some other countries. But to make the most of these 20 precious days and maximise your annual leave, you gotta think strategically. Public holidays are key to this plan.

So, we’ve read the deets and done the math. Use Contiki’s 2023 annual leave hack calculator below to see how you can turn 23 days of AL into 57 days of blissful vacay life. And then read on for our tips for the hottest destinations to visit throughout the year.

Start planning today!

Here’s what you need to know: the purple circles show public holidays, green circles show when you need to take annual leave and the yellow circles are your ‘weekend extenders’ to make the most of trips. Scroll through for our best picks for the hottest destinations and trips to take with all of this ~extra~ time you’ll have on your hands…

Australia hack the leave calendar

National public holidays: how to maximise your leave

In 2023, the best times to take your annual leave and plan for extended time away are in late January, April, mid-June, early October and late December.

January: 21-29th

Surrounding the Australia Day national public holiday, book four days of annual leave for a nine-day holiday. Since it is Australia Day (26th Jan) that you’ll be acknowledging, why not soak up the summer here and immerse yourself in First Nations culture on the Uluru Explorer (21-24th Jan).

Or perhaps your New Years’ resolution is to travel somewhere you’ve never been before? Start the year strong. During this 9-day holiday gap, Contiki trips around the world will be exploring off the beaten path destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Vietnam, South Africa and Egypt. Now that’s a bucket list worthy line-up if we’ve ever heard one.

Vietnam lake

April: 7-16th and 22-30th

Ahhhh April. What a beautiful time of year to travel. And to make it even better, you’ve got quite a few options for hacking your annual leave this month.

Option 1: Book four days off around Easter for a 10-day holiday.

Option 2: Book four days off around ANZAC Day for another 9-day break.

Option 3: If you’ve miraculously got even more AL days to spare, book 13 days off for a 24-day holiday. That would make the hack 28 days AL for 64 days of holiday. And practically a whole month you can be vacationing!

No matter what option works best for you in April, by taking annual leave around the Easter public holidays or ANZAC Day you’ll have plenty of time to fit in a getaway. For this time of year, the Americas are a popular destination, particularly The Caribbean, Mexico, and the USA – or tick off Machu Picchu on the Ultimate Inca Trail!

Peru - When can Americans travel right now?

June: 10-18th

For New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT, June 2023 will mark our first official King’s Birthday public holiday in honour of King Charles III.

During this time, with just four days of annual leave, you can take off for a nine-day holiday. European summer is just starting to kick off, so why not jump on our Vienna to Rome Trail, Croatia Island Sail, or the new Athens to Santorini Plus – all three trips fit perfectly into this 9-day break.

*QLD can do a similar hack on the October long weekend for their King’s Birthday public holiday.

**WA can do a similar hack a week earlier, surrounding Western Australia Day on 5th June.

Group of Young Travellers exploring Greece

October: 30th Sept- 8th October

Okay, listen up folks of NSW, SA, ACT & QLD, this one is for you. For 3 out of 4 states, this is the Labour Day long weekend, hurray! For QLD, (as mentioned earlier) this is their King’s Birthday PH.

So, simply book four days of annual leave for a nine-day holiday. October is a great time to enjoy the Great Outdoors, and check out some destinations where Mumma Nature puts on her finest shows. Have your breath literally snatched away by Sicily on the 8-day Real Sicily trip, feel your heart pump in the Scottish Highlands, or get adventurous on one of Detour trips, Surf and Yoga in Devon.

*QLD & NT can do a similar hack around 1st May for their Labour Day/May Day.

**WA can do a similar hack around 25th September for their Kings Birthday PH.

(It’s at this point we feel the need to pop in a side note: Seriously guys, why can’t all states/territories do these things on the same day???)

travellers in Sicily

December: 23rd Dec – 1st Jan

And once again, we are back to the most wonderful time of the year. Do yourself a favour and book a little extra time off over the holiday season and turn three days of annual leave into a 10-day holiday. With national public holidays for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day (plus some sneaky extra days or half-days for a few lucky states) you can really stretch out the rest of your 2023 AL balance.

While you may want to be around friends and family, we won’t judge if you decide to spontaneously pop over to the other side of the world for a unforgettable White Christmas. Check out Europe’s best Christmas markets, and keep an eye out for our 2023 Christmas Market trip dates later in the year.

The best Christmas vacations you should take this year

The best Christmas vacations you should take this year

Ben Garwood
by Ben Garwood Dec 05, 2022

Public holidays per state

Public holidays – Victoria

Public holidays – Queensland

Public holidays – Western Australia

Public holidays – South Australia

Public holidays – ACT

Public holidays – Tasmania

Certain regions of Tasmania get public holidays for Show Days, including King Island Show on 7 March, Royal Launceston Show on 12 October, and Devonport Show on 1 December. (Please give us a virtual pat on the back for not taking this prime opportunity to make a cheeky joke about the many weird things that only happen in Tasmania. We love you Tassie).

Public holidays – NT

The Northern Territory also gives certain regions additional public holidays for their local Show Day. In 2023 these dates are: Alice Springs on 7 July, Tennant Creek on 14 July, Katherine on 21 July, Darwin on 28 July, Borroloola on 18 August.

Will there be another ‘National Day of Mourning for Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth the Second’ in 2023?

No. This was a one-time public holiday in 2022 to honour the life of Queen Elizabeth ll.

Stop dreaming and make sh*t happen!