If you’ve read travel magazines or blogs, you’ve likely read a story (or two) about a travel blogger who quits her job, sells nearly everything she owns and travels around the world, armed with an infinite amount of time and an entire world to explore. While there’s nothing wrong with that decision (honestly, I’m a little jealous), it’s not a practical choice for a lot of people.
You may not want to quit your job because you’re moving up the career ladder and finally reaping the rewards in a demanding field. Perhaps you have kids and you don’t want to interrupt their social life or school experience. Or you don’t want to rent your home or sell it. Or maybe you don’t want to live your beloved furry family member at home. Whatever the reason, not quitting your job to travel the world is totally normal (even if it doesn’t feel that way in the blogosphere).
That said, balancing a career with travel can be challenging, especially for my fellow Americans since we average a measly two weeks of vacation per year (and a lot of people aren’t even using their 2 weeks).
In order to provide you with inspiration and practical advice, I asked some fellow part-time traveler bloggers to share their tricks for incorporating more travel into their busy lives. Consider this your ultimate guide for learning how to balance your career with your sense of wanderlust.
Everybody’s Working for the Weekend
Let’s play with some numbers. If you work the typical Monday-Friday 8-5 grind, you have approximately 55 hours each week dedicated to your weekend. In order to balance your career and travel as much as possible, learn how to embrace the weekend. Become a weekend warrior. Sure, you may not be jetting to Paris, but one person’s hometown is another’s vacation destination.
Here are my top three tips to make the most of weekend travel:
- Don’t procrastinate. Accomplish your weekend chores during the week. Pack your bags on a Wednesday. Prepare for your following week on Thursday since your Sunday is going to be occupied with travel.
- Leave early. If your job allows, flex your time during the week. By arriving 15 minutes early and leaving 15 minutes late every day, you’ve banked 2 hours that should allow you to wave goodbye to your office at 3pm.
- Pick a theme. Weekend travel means accepting that you can’t do it all. By picking a “theme” for your weekend, you can focus your energies and maximize your time. A foodie weekend in Chicago or a wine tasting weekend in Traverse City sound much more appealing than scheduling every minute just to say you did it all!
I struggle, hard, with establishing balance between career and travel, because ultimately I want one: career, but always feel I am heavily sacrificing discovering the world. As a travel-lover you’ll know there is never enough time in the year/ life for all the places that you want to see; so essentially we always feel travel-time is somewhat off balance, it’s a loosing battle!
In the less woe-is-me moments however, I sit down, dream, then get creative with my holiday. I usually take one long haul trip in the year, which lasts between 10 days and 3 weeks, to at least give me a sense of how it might feel to live in the destination. I then pepper the rest of the year with long weekends, where I sometimes take a half or full day off on the Friday. In addition, when the New Year rolls around, I strategically claim days around bank holidays to give me lengthier trips.
To get closer to the travel world, I also made the move to work in travel two years ago, a decision that took me to Jordan last year. Now in my second role, working for a Travel Association, I enjoy learning about the industry and confronting some less-sexy-but-important topics such as sustainable travel.
My favorite tip for maximizing vacation time with work is to schedule your time off to coincide with a company scheduled no work holiday. In the US it can be difficult to take time off, let alone take multiple days off at a time. In order to get the most out of my break time I use the scheduled no work day(s) in my favor. Take Thanksgiving week, quite a few companies in the US close on that Thursday and Friday. Schedule your vacation for the week of or after and you then add on up to 4 extra days to travel. The same goes for any other company holiday. If the no work day lands on a Monday or Friday take the week of, before or after off. By including the scheduled no work holiday(s) in your plan you are able to attain extra days for yourself without using your vacation or personal days.
I work full-time as a software engineer and occasionally freelance as a copy editor; on my spare time I travel and maintain a blog along with my boyfriend. An advice that I can give is to find a company that will allow you to take an extended amount of leave at a time. Not all companies give employees freedom on when and how long to take leaves.
I have friends who have to submit leave application months ahead, and they have to choose a date that is still not taken by their project workmates (basically they cannot travel together!). The application then undergoes a strict review by the supervisor. It’s not uncommon to have travel acquaintances back out because leave applications are not approved. I’m lucky because even though I also do support on rotation in my work, we’re lenient in that we’re allowed to take leaves as long as we inform our leads at least a week in advance. Then we can discuss issues that have to be resolved and who can cover for our tasks, as necessary.
I believe that there’s always sacrifice when you have a full-time day job but also travel a lot and that this is necessary to ensure you can balance both without compromising your work performance or your passion outside of the office.
As a full time nanny who works 60+ hours a week, it is hard to find the time to maintain my travel blog and actually get out to explore new places. However, it is not impossible. I tend to have my evenings free that I devote to writing blog posts and promoting them. I spend my commute on Instagram, where I interact with my followers. Luckily I have weekends free, which is the time when I can go and explore the area. There are great hiking/camping places all over the UK that are great for just a weekend. Bank holidays are even better. I always make full advantage of them and find a nice place to visit.
As I love the outdoors this normally involves cycling, hiking, kayaking or sailing. I don’t have much flexibility with my holiday dates. I’m free when the family I work for goes on holiday. This is normally 2 weeks in summer, 1 during Christmas and 1 in February. So I suppose I have it all. 2 weeks for a nice road trip in the summer, 1 week to enjoy Christmas and 1 week to go skiing. I have to be organized to make the most of my limited holidays, but planning is half the joy already.
I’ve held “regular” jobs for exactly 2 years and that includes a semester I’ve worked and studied!
Circumstances led me to have to choose between very poorly paid jobs and trying to be a freelancer. I chose the latter and never looked back. I went from working project based only, to having a part-time job, and later to having a full-time job. Out of my house and / or wherever I would be and net would work. So I worked from a hotel room in Romania (3 weeks), Italy (5 weeks), and from whatever relative I was visiting (countless weeks!)
Currently, I hold a full-time (40h per week), fully remote job as a social media specialist! I also run 2 blogs of my own on the site and…travel.
What worked for me:
- Finding jobs with flexible schedule! I’ve worked fixed schedule as well from home but burned out in 3 years.
- Finding remote jobs! When I can work from anywhere, I can mix in travel easier since I get to work from another place than home.
- Ditching a job when it doesn’t make me happy
- Making good use of weekend travel and paid days off (as in: travel every single time I can!)
Rebecca From Away From the Office (yours truly)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a fairly demanding job that requires more than the usual 40-hour workweek. In the past, I’ve been successful in trading some of those extra hours for additional “comp” time, which I’ll often use to extend my vacation by a day or two. I also have some flexibility to work remotely, provided that I’m working during our core business hours. I wouldn’t necessarily want to work while I was in India but it does mean that I can balance my work with a trip to a destination in North or South America.
I hope that you’re inspired by these tips to get away from the office and explore the world.