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Make the most of your annual leave: Turn 17 days of leave to 43 days of adventure

There's no better time than now to start planning your holidays around this year's annual leave calendar. To assist wanderlusters, Skyscanner Australia has created a travel bucket-list calendar designed to help you maximise public holidays in Australia such as Easter, Australia Day, and your annual leave in exchange for afforable holiday opportunities. This handy holiday-hacker will help you plan a year crammed with adventure. Taking note of public holidays and best times to travel, the calendar features a variety of getaways with suggested bucket-list activities, ranging from long weekend breaks to epic trips. Clocking in at a grand total of 43 days of travel with only 17 days of leave taken, you'll have plenty to look forward to!

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The travel bucket-list calendar features six recommended getaways spread over the year. These trips are highlighted in grey, leveraging nine public holidays recognised across most states in Australia. This is made up of 17 days of annual leave amounting to 43 days of travel.

Marked in red are public holidays and in navy are our suggested days to take leave. With the dates all ironed out, you can now easily plan ahead, apply for your annual leave, and make the most out of weekends and public holidays.

But what about the months without any highlights? Don’t let the lack of red circles keep you from travelling. We’ve matched incredible must-see destinations with the cheapest months to visit. So take us up on these bucket-list recommendations with your remaining annual leave.

We’ve covered the first half of the year in our previous article, but for the second half of 2016, read on to find out where to go and when to go.

July destination inspiration: Iceland

Nature puts on quite a show in Iceland – especially in the summer. July is an incredibly picturesque time to visit, as well as one of the few months where temperatures can be classified as almost bearable. You’ll have the chance to witness the midnight sun in all its glory, slow sunsets and sunrises that drench the skies in colour. Go puffin spotting or hike your way out to glaciers, geysers and roaring waterfalls. Explore the other worldly mountains and craters of the Icelandic highlands. It’s an area only open in the summer months and well worth a trip. And of course, don’t forget to have a relaxing soak in a geothermal pool like the famous Blue Lagoon – note that availability is limited so it’s best to pre-book your tickets.

blue lagoon

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August destination inspiration: Queenstown

Make the most of this quick winter getaway by hopping across the Tasman. Queenstown is the destination of choice, with its breathtaking lakeside and alpine setting coupled with ski fields primed for snow-shredding. Take a quiet moment to admire the views, but a moment might be all you have as this city is buzzing with things to do. Get your ski on at The Remarkables or Coronet Peak, the two resorts are a quick drive away and have terrain suited to every level. If your pockets are as deep as your levels of expertise are high, heli-skiing is the ultimate powderhound experience. Thrill seekers can challenge the forces of gravity and give skydiving or bungy jumping a try, or you can opt for a more mellow day trip to Milford Sound. And after a long, hard day you can kick back with a couple après ski drinks in the adventure capital of the world.

Snowboard in Queenstown

Read More: The Road Trip Guide to Ski Season in New Zealand

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September destination inspiration: Fiji

Spring has sprung, but it’s time to make a break for somewhere even warmer. A tropical getaway to Fiji fits the bill perfectly – think overwater bungalows, waking up to stunning ocean panoramas, and dinner with your toes in the sand. Aside from getting some well deserved R&R, it’s a long-weekend window of opportunity to delve into nature. Fiji is teeming with waterfalls and wildlife (underwater and on land). And if you’re the more adventurous sort and are willing to venture a bit further out, the legendary underwater limestone caves of Sawa-i-Lau are not to be missed.

Fiji beach

Read More: The Romantic’s Guide to Fiji

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Labour Day – 3 October

Take leave on: 4-7 October (4 days) Trip duration: 9 days, depart 1 October and return 9 October

Visit one of the world’s greatest ancient capitals. Beijing has some 2,000 years’ worth of historical clout. Wander the ornate palaces’ complexes like the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site or the Summer Palace. A definite must-do is climbing the Great Wall of China, where you can appreciate a hefty slice of history and put your stamina to the test while you’re at it. Also not to be missed are sites of more contemporary significance, such as Tiananmen Square. If you start feeling peckish, indulge in local cuisine such as Peking Roast Duck, a Beijing specialty. Come evening, enjoy some traditional Chinese entertainment. The Peking Opera is an institution in China, a form of theatre that combines mime, music, acrobatics and dance in a dynamic display. While only about 200 years old, the art form draws heavily from Chinese folklore. End your day with a dose of the cosmopolitan, taking in the city’s impressive skylines that lie side by side with its imperial past.

And if you happen to be Victorian, not fussed about footy, and of the opinion that 9 days isn’t nearly enough time, you’re in luck! Extend your trip by another day by capitalising on AFL Grand Final Friday (30 Sept).

beijing

Read More: 5 Premium Economy Classes Worth Paying For

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Destination Inspiration: November

It’s the most American holiday there is after the Fourth. Why not spend Thanksgiving in the USA? Land yourself in New York City and add a couple of holiday-themed things to your already hefty to-do list. Start your Big Apple travels at least a few days before Thanksgiving so you can check out the Met, Times Square, Central Park and the rest of NYC must-sees. Definitely check out the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, partake in the traditional holiday dinner and stuff yourself silly with turkey and pumpkin pie. Do your best to recover from your food coma in time for Black Friday, so you can brave the crowds and find a few shopping steals to take home with you. Remember to take advantage of the chilly conditions and go ice skating at the Rockerfeller Center. And if you grow tired of the concrete jungle, just drive a couple hours out of New York and escape to the Catskills for a bit of countryside air and (hopefully) snow.

NYC

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Christmas & New Year’s – 25, 26, 27, 31 December

Take leave on: 28-30 December (3 days) Trip duration: 10 days, depart 23 December and return 1 January

Who doesn’t dream of spending their Christmas in winter wonderland? Edinburgh wins you over even on a regular day. An old soul with charming medieval architecture, acres of parkland and a centuries-old castle that towers majestically over it all. The city kicks it up a notch over Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year). Its yuletide festivities include the ever popular Christmas market lining the streets, outdoor ice skating rinks and live performances taking over the park. Explore the narrow lanes, cloaked in snow and fairy lights. And if you really want to get in the spirit of things, don a pompom beanie and Christmas jumper (preferably emblazoned with a slightly misshapen reindeer).

The revelry carries right into the New Year, with Hogmanay being one of the biggest street parties in the world. The festival goes on for three days, beginning with a torch procession and escalating to a street art carnival, endless live concerts and dance parties. The final night ends with just a touch of the sentimental as everyone heralds in the New Year with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

calton hill

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Read More: 10 ways to save money while travelling

Want your own travel bucket-list calendar to pin it to your wall, your fridge, or set it as a screensaver? It’s the perfect #travelgoals reminder.

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Keen to receive further versions of our travel bucket list calendars? Let us know: skyscanner.australia@skyscanner.net

Armed with a holiday-hacking strategy, it’s time to get planning. Search with Skyscanner for the best and cheapest holiday deals on flights and hotels – hassle free with no booking fees!