Have you ever wished you could travel more but just can’t seem to find the time because you work full time? Maybe you see people on social media and other bloggers who are fully nomadic and wish you could do that too. After all, who doesn’t want to be their own boss and travel the world at their leisure? The truth is, you can lead a fulfilling travel lifestyle without quitting your full time job. Traveling with a full time job is totally possible, but you need to be smart about it to make it work.
For some people, their career is important and having a steady, reliable income is critical – and that’s great! That doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice traveling, it just means you need to employ some some smart habits to make sure you’re utilizing your vacation days in the best possible way. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too (and let’s throw in a bottle of wine and a plane ticket).
Top Tips For Traveling With A Full Time Job
Are you ready to take notes? Grab some coffee or wine (I’d say it depends on your time zone but if you want a glass of wine at 2 in the afternoon, you know what, go for it), hunker down and learn the best ways to see the world without having to give up your steady lifestyle.
Take Advantage of Public Holidays
This is probably the most important tip in this entire post because long weekends will become your very best friend since they’re extra days off that don’t require your vacation time. As you probably know, I’m a huge proponent of weekend trips (from spending a long weekend in Dubai to 48 hours in Budapest and even taking advantage of layovers in cities like Madrid) so combining a ‘free’ day off with some vacation days means you get more bang for your buck.
I recently went to Oman over Labor Day and combined it with one day of paid time off and got a few days to explore and road trip Oman while using very little leave.
Always be sure to check with your employer about the policy surrounding taking days off around public/federal holidays because some have rules against it and you’ll need to get additional approval before taking that time.
Travel on Redeye Flights/Friday Nights
This is one of the best ways to utilize your time if it’s possible because you’ll arrive at your destination first thing in the morning (usually – it depends how far you’re going!) and will give you an entire day at your destination rather than just a half day.
You can go straight to the airport from work, hop on your plane, arrive at your destination and have an entire day to explore. This works especially well going to Europe because flights leave in evening from the east coast, perfect for travel just after work, and will arrive early enough in the morning to even give you time to have a nap if you need it and still have a full day ahead of you.
Traveling doesn’t always mean you need to go to far flung places! Some of the best trips you’ll take may just be only a few hours away. A weekend trip to Boston can be just as fun as four days in London and you don’t even need to take any time off.
You can apply the same logic and go on Friday night after work or, depending how close it is, simply travel on a Saturday morning and come back Sunday night. And if you don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one, Amtrak is always an option if you’re in the US, and if you live in Europe, well, you have lots of options whether it be bus, train or cheap airline flights.
If you aren’t sure how to find affordable flights in the US, be sure to read all about the best ways to find cheap flights.
Look, I love spontaneous trips and I’d be thrilled to book a flight to Australia for next month but when you work full time, sometimes you need to plan ahead. That doesn’t mean you can never take spontaneous trips – far from it! It just means if there are places you’re very keen to go to that year, set aside some dates you think will be ideal for that trip.
Booking redeye flights and going on weekend trips are great ways to travel using as few vacation days as possible, but sometimes there’s a place that just speaks to you and you want to spend a longer time there. In this case, it’s even better to combine with public holidays to get even more time off. Once you choose dates that look like they’ll get you the most bang for your buck, check with your employer to make sure you can get that time off, set up some flight alerts, decide on a price you’d be happy to pay and be ready to book it when that price comes available.
Know Your Employee Handbook Rules
Make sure you know all the policies about taking time off and the work schedule because sometimes they work in your favor! For example, where I work, as long as you put in 37.5 hours of work a week, you can pretty much distribute that how you like. Which is great, because it means if I need to take a 3 p.m. flight I can, I just have to put in those extra hours earlier in the week.
But of course, if you do this, always make sure your employer is aware you’ll be leaving early!
If there’s nothing stated in the handbook, never be shy to ask about flexible work schedules because you never know and your employer may surprise you by agreeing. If you never ask about it, you’ll definitely never get it, and as long as you ask in the right way the worst that can happen is they say no and there are no hard feelings.
Some people don’t understand how I can go somewhere for just a weekend and feel like I did anything, but you know what? You can do a heck of a lot in one day if you put your mind to it and for me, it’s not about doing everything a place has to offer, it’s about the experience I have with what little time I have there.
If you have the mentality that you need to see absolutely everything then you’re going to be disappointed so it’s best to set your expectations before you go so you don’t come back feeling unfulfilled. The way I look at it is the journey is just as important as the destination and once I’m there, I make the most with what I’ve got. I don’t set myself an itinerary and that way whatever I’ve done makes me happy and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.
And you know what? If you loved the place so much – you can go back! There’s nothing wrong with traveling to the same destination more than once. I’ve been to Singapore several times, Bangkok several times and god knows how many times I’ve been back to Melbourne since our working holiday there. Travel is fluid and there aren’t any rules. You make your own rules and you do what makes you happy and the sooner you do this, the sooner you’ll be making the most of traveling with a full time job.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is work hard and be a good employee because creating that good will can help you in the long run. After all, who wants to be generous or flexible for someone who doesn’t care about their job or doesn’t pull their weight?
If you give your job your all, you may find your employer is more accommodating when it comes to you asking for time off or even asking for a more flexible work schedule.
I love to travel but I also don’t love the idea of not having a steady income and living out of a single suitcase. Besides, I like what I do and there’s no shame in that! Traveling with a full time job is much easier than you think. It just takes a bit more planning and coordination, but that’s all just part of the run, right?