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I work full time at an office. Therefore every time I write a blog post or post a picture of my travels on Facebook I am always asked two questions. First, how do you afford to travel so much? Second, how do you get the time off to travel so much? I sometimes wonder the answers to these questions myself. However with only two weeks vacation I have managed to get creative and figure out a way to go on at least 12 trips a year while still staying within my vacation time allotment.
You would think why bother with jumping through all these hoops in order to travel. As much as a I love travel I am not one of those girls that will quit her job to become a digital nomad and travel full time. I honestly admire these women however I get home sick. Yes. This girl here that travels all the time gets homesick. I genuinely like my day job (most days) and I love having a home base.
That being said I have a bad case of wanting to see and do everything. So I have managed to have the best of both worlds by keeping my full time job while still satisfying my travel itch.
You can do the same thing too. With a bit of planning and flexibility there is no reason why you couldn’t travel as much as I do. So let’s talk about how you can take 12 vacations in one year while still keep your full time job.
How to Travel with a Full Time Office Job
(1) Figure Out How Much time you Really Have
Did you know about half of Americans do not take advantage of all their vacation days and end up losing them. Vacation Time is part of your compensation therefore make sure you are taking advantage of it. I get two weeks a year. That doesn’t sound like much but trust me when I say I can do a lot with those 10 days. And I use every single one. I do not remember a time when I ever lost a vacation day. That is just no happening.
Put together a list of all the holidays you get at work. Those three day weekends really help when trying to extend that amount of time off you have.
Here is a list of the Holidays I get for 2019. This gives me an additional 8 days so I am up to 18 days off now.
New Years Day Tuesday, January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Monday January 21
Washington’s Birthday Monday February 18
Good Friday, Friday April 19
Independence Day, Thursday July 4
Labor Day, Monday September 2
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 28
Christmas, Wednesday December 25
Whatever your weekend is, take advantage of it. So if you get every Monday and Tuesday off go do something. I work Monday-Friday therefore I get weekends off. There are 52 weekends in a year so that gives me another 104 days. Now I am up to 122 days.
When you add those numbers up it sounds like a lot doesn’t it. Now that I know how much time I have it is time to start planning. Take a moment and figure out what your number looks like. Once you have that number it is time to start planning.
Planning your vacations for a year.
(2) Make a list of places you would like to visit.
Next to each location note how much time you would need in order to enjoy that vacation. I usually will categorize my locations by Weekend, Long Weekend and Week. This is where you need to make some decisions. Do you want to take a bunch of shorter trips, One Long Trip or a combo of both. I always try to fit in a Combo of Both. Here is my sample list I put together for the next 12 months.
- Walla, Walla Washington – Long Weekend
- Iceland-Long Weekend
- Banff-Long Weekend
- Bali- Week*
- Portland, Maine-Weekend
- Puerto Rico- Long Weekend
- Orlando, Florida- Weekend
- Hill Country, Texas- Weekend
- Mexico City-Long Weekend
- London-Long Weekend
*A week for me is 8-10 days. If I want to go on a longer trip I will leave Friday evening after work and return the following Sunday which depending on my destination can give me between 8-10 days.
*A long weekend can be 3-4 days. If I find a good deal on a holiday weekend I will take off a day and make it a 4 day trip.
Assuming two weeks vacations for 2019 I am looking at at least 11 trips. If you do the math I am only taking off a total of 10 days not including holidays and weekends.
(3) Play Travel Roulette
Now that I have my list the next thing I do is input those destinations into Google Flights and see what comes up. Google Flights is great for telling you the best time of year to visit certain locations. For example I want to go wine tasting in Walla Walla, Washington. According to Google Flights I can get cheap tickets in October. So guess what I am hoping do in October?
(4) Be a Weekend Warrior
There are so many places to you can go for a quick weekend getaway. Flying to Europe probably wouldn’t be ideal but look for destinations that are within a two hour flight or drive from home. I usually keep things flexible and have gone as far as California for 48 hours. I’ve done Sonoma in 48 hours (flying from NYC on Friday evening and catching the red eye on Sunday night). Yeah my Monday morning was rough but it was so worth it because I had the time of my life.
(5) Plan Ahead
Once you figure out where you want to go next you need to figure out what you want to see and do. For example I went to Sonoma for two days. I found a flight leaving after work on a Friday and I flew back home on the red eye on Sunday. This gave me two full days in Sonoma. I managed to fit in two days of wine tours, a morning at the spa and two of the best brunches I have had in my life.
(6) Work Remotely
I personally don’t have this luxury and after having a flexible “work from home” schedule in my previous life I prefer to just not work while I am traveling. However if you have the option this is a great way to maximize your travel time. The key to this is being productive and being mindful of the time difference. If you are traveling overseas be prepared to work while everyone is sleeping however the plus side is that this gives you an opportunity to explore while the sun is out.
(7) Work Overtime
Say what. Why would I work overtime Taima? Well let me explain. While not all employers offer paid overtime I have heard of some employers that will allow you to earn extra time off by putting in extra hours. So let’s say you work a 40 hour week. See if you can work 10 hour days for 4 days to get an extra day off. Of put that extra 2 hours a day towards a “free” day off. This is a great way to accumulate extra time off.
(8) Be Productive
This is very important. I am at a point in my career where it doesn’t matter how many hours I am sitting in my office. What matters is whether I am getting my work done. So while yes, I do keep a 9-5 schedule Monday-Friday it is up to me to make sure I am being smart and productive during that time so I can actually walk out the door by 5pm. If I am messing around guess who has to work late to make it up. This also can work to your benefit because if you are productive and establish that kind of confidence with your boss they will trust you more when you ask to work from home or ask to make up hours for a “free” day off.
There are no secrets to how I have managed to travel while keeping a full time 9-5 office job. With a little bit of determination, flexibility and creativity you to can see the world while not giving up your day job.
So get out your calendar and start planning your next getaway. Let’s go out and see what this world has to offer to us.
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