How to Travel More with a Full-Time Job

I get it. I really, truly do. You have a plan, long-term goals, and a career to keep in mind. You intentionally navigate the course of day-to-day life but with a heart that yearns to chase the wind with wild abandon. You work to live, but you also live to travel.

I’ve taken a month’s leave to backpack Italy, spent a week touring the Irish countryside, earned some freckles after a few days in Puerto Rico, and traveled for ten days exploring the coast of Croatia—all while maintaining a 40-hour work week (that kept me in a cubicle) back home. Hear me in this: I don’t say that to gloat. I say that to grant hope. You don’t have to be a professional travel blogger in order to see the world. You can be a responsible adult who pays her bills and shows up on time while still flourishing in the bohemian spirit you love so much. In fact, you just might be better off for balancing both.

Here’s what to keep in mind so you do.

Get creative.

Source: Leone Niel

First off: If you’re aiming to see the world while maintaining a positive relationship with your employer, get any travel comparisons out of your head. We’ve previously discussed the necessity of planning travel to your own tune, but it bears repeating. So many people think that having a full-time job in a non-luxury field suddenly eclipses their ability to, say, spontaneously book a ticket to London. And that’s just not true. You can! But your trip just might not look like someone else’s who has time—or a leisurely attitude—on their side.

Sometimes, when you’re an adult, you can’t always get the trifecta of cheap, easy, and enjoyable in the voyage department. Getting creative with travel, while also honoring a full-time job, means you’ll have to think outside the box and you’ll probably end up sacrificing in one of these three areas.

The sooner you’re OK with that, the sooner you’ll begin to notice unexpected adventures pop up. Maybe it’s a photography workshop in New York, or a wine-tasting festival in Portugal. Perhaps it’s a friend who wants to visit another friend studying abroad. When you comes across something that strikes you, give it a second thought.

If travel is important enough to you that you’re wishing you did it more… then sometimes it’s as simple as first giving yourself permission to believe you actually can.

Be strategic.

Source: To Vogue or Bust

That said, permission to travel more doesn’t come with carte blanche to be irresponsible. There is some “strat-e-gery” involved with working and wandering. The best place to start is to look at your work or company’s calendar. What holidays do they grant off? What three-day weekends can you take advantage of? (Side note: Working for a university or in an academic setting typically observes more holidays than most corporate jobs. Win.)

– Look at the year and block out where it would make the most sense to take two or three PTO days off together.

– Have some calendar dates in mind, then watch for deals.

– Exclusively (and responsibly) use a credit card that will earn you mileage points.

– Sign up for flight alerts.

– Try taking two days at a time when straddling a weekend or a holiday. It tends to yield the best return on travel, especially when you’re able to get on a red-eye after work the day before. Sure, it’s not the most desirable flight, but once you’re away on vacation it won’t matter how you got there.

– Research conferences or volunteer opportunities that you could work into a perk of validating your career credentials.

A key point on being strategic here also has to do with finances. Since you’ll most likely be traveling on limited time, don’t feel like you have to blow your budget or cram your schedule whenever you get where you’re going. Limited travel can bless an agenda, meaning if you only have a few days let those days be simple and sweet. Three days renting an apartment in Budapest, for example, making your own meals and enjoying the city through one neighborhood’s lens can be infinitely more memorable than frantically trying to tour five major European cities in the span of a week. A good traveler prioritizes perspective.

Be understanding of your co-workers.

Source: Steffy’s Pros and Cons

Truthfully, I wouldn’t have been able to take a good portion of the trips that I have if I didn’t first build a relationship with my coworkers and superiors. No one wants to give a break to someone who hardly works. Even if your job is the absolute worst—a stepping stone, a learning experience, something that’s merely enabling you to live where you do—don’t let those that you work with know you feel that way. Show up, be reliable, act considerately, and develop positive professional relationships so your coworkers will want to champion your travel interests instead of criticize you for having them.

– Be honest with your manager instead of trying to be sneaky or “call in sick for a week” when you’re really in Aruba. Though not always easy or comfortable, explaining to a superior why a trip is important to you can earn more leniency—especially if you need to take vacation days in advance or you can prove that your time off won’t limit your value or commitment to the company.

– Be willing to work harder and longer, making it easier for someone to fill in for you while gone.

– Go the extra mile when someone else is on vacation. What goes around, comes around.

– Don’t automatically think that a pre-planned trip could cost you a promotion or being hired for something new. If it does, maybe question if such a work environment would really be right for you in the long run.

We’re all humans at the end of the day, not robots. We need time away from what we do so our creativity can be stretched and our spirit restored. A full-time job shouldn’t keep you from living a full and adventurous life. If anything, it keeps you from stressing about where to find that next freelance gig or contract client once you’re back.

What unique ways have you found to combine travel with a busy schedule?

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