People ask me all the time how I travel so much when I work full-time. Well, it’s hard, but not impossible. There are definitely ways to travel when you work full-time. It’s really all about making it a priority, saving your pennies, and getting creative about how and when you travel.
There are so many Americans that don’t take advantage of their vacation time for different reasons. It could be the guilt factor, whether self-inflicted (“It’s too busy at work” or “How will they manage without me?”) or you could experience resistance from your supervisor when you request time off (Psst. They’re just jealous). And then there’s me..who spends her vacation days wisely as soon as she earns it and wishes upon a star that she had more!
There are also concerns about budget, time, having to do all the research, etc. Or you may think: is it really worth the effort? Can you really enjoy your trip to Australia when you only have 10 days off and 4 of those days are spent on an airplane, the ticket for which you spent a lot of $$? Hint: yes, yes, in fact it is worth it.
Traveling while you work full-time is possible! So, how do I travel so much with a year-round, 9-5 job? I work at a university, so on top of my 15 days/year of paid vacation, I get most major Monday holidays off, two days off for Thanksgiving, and up to 1.5 weeks off between Christmas and New Years. No, I don’t get summers off. 🙁
It’s not easy, but I decided long ago to make travel a priority without having to sacrifice the stability of a job and home base.
So, how can you incorporate travel into your 9-5 life?
1. Maximize Long Weekends
Travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fly halfway around the world to a new country. Some of my favorite trips have been to places close by, spending a long weekend in a new city, for example, or relaxing at a B&B or resort for a quick getaway. You’d be surprised how much you can see in just a few short days without feeling too rushed. Ever wanted to explore New York City? or Montreal? Savannah or Nashville? You can see the top sights in places like these in 2-3 days. Tripadvisor has travel guides that include a sample itinerary of top things to do in just 3 days. Just search for your destination, then click on “Travel Guides.” A Boston to LA weekend trip is totally doable, for example, especially if you leave Friday Morning and return on a Sunday night red-eye. Read about my trip to the Bahamas over the 4th of July weekend without taking any time off HERE.
- Look for places close to home. Is it within a 4-5 hour drive? Overnight flight?
- If you really want that feeling of escape or luxury without going too far, why not splurge on a fancier hotel or book yourself a few spa services.
- Take a personal/vacation day before or after the holiday weekend. You’ll find cheaper fares.
- Does your job allow you to take unpaid time off? If you’re running out of vacation days, it wouldn’t hurt to ask if you can take off a few days or even longer for “personal development” during a slow period. You’ll never know unless you ask!
2. Add Onto Work Trips
My job doesn’t require any travel, but if I did have to travel for work, I would add a few days to the beginning or end of my trip to explore my surroundings.
3. Save Your Pennies for the Big Trips
Start saving your pennies now! Literally. I have a piggy bank where I put all my loose change. For one of my trips, I took the piggy to the bank and was pleased that I had saved up $80 in loose change to use as spending money for one of my trips. You can also set aside a specific amount and direct deposit into a dedicated travel fund. I have 10% of my paycheck deposited directly into my travel fund. I book flights and accommodations on my credit card to earn points, which I can later use for free flights, then I pay my credit card using funds from my travel savings account.
4. Do Your Research
This is so important! And I know a lot of people hate doing it. It’s a lot of work. Where do I start? Whose reviews and recommendations should I trust? How do I build an itinerary? There is a lot of good information on travel blogs, websites like tripadvisor.com, and word of mouth.
When you develop an efficient travel itinerary before-hand, you can experience more destinations in a short amount of time without feeling rushed.
5. Enjoy a Staycation with Family and Friends
If all else fails, travel in your own backyard! I’ve lived in Boston for 10+ years and there’s still so many places I haven’t been to. Go on a day trip, see some of the top sights of your own city, explore a national park nearby, or try a new restaurant.
After all, travel is about having adventures, about meeting new people, about seeing new sights, no matter where you are in the world. Be a tourst in your own or closest city!
Just when you think you’re ready to pack your bags and move away from New England to escape the harsh winters, you explore your hometown just like you would explore other cities when you’re traveling and you smile and remember how amazing it is.
I try to take 1-2 big trips a year. When I say “big,” I mean a week or week and a half to a far-off place. Usually, these are places that I’ve always dreamed of going. Guys, I’m slowly making these travel dreams a reality and realizing it is possible to support my travel addiction. Do you have any other ideas on how to manage your travel dreams and work responsibilities? I’d love to hear from you!