Do you dream of traveling the world but don't think it's possible because you have a full-time job? Think again! It is possible to travel while working a 9-5, and many people do it every day. The key is to find a way to balance your work and travel schedules.
Keep reading to learn more about how to travel while working full-time, including some of the best tips to manage your workload while traveling.
Traveling while working a 9-5
If you're like me, you may currently work full-time at an office.
I get it, and that's my life. So 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 about the answers to these questions myself.
However, with only two weeks of 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 jumping through all these hoops to travel. Why not just quit your job and become a digital nomad. It would be so much easier, right?
As much as I love to 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 homesick.
Yes. This girl here that travels all the time gets homesick. I genuinely like my day job (most days) and love having a home base.
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 keeping your full-time job.
It Start's with Your Mindset
Before diving into the practical tips and tricks for traveling more without quitting your 9-5, you first need to consider what traveling or taking a vacation means to you.
Do you have to take off a week at a time for it to be considered a vacation or traveling? Or would a weekend getaway be good enough?
Do you have to get on a plane to consider it a vacation, or would a road trip suffice?
For some people, taking a few days off to drive up the coast is a good vacation, and it doesn't have to be an international trip to count as traveling or going on vacation.
Start thinking about how you can work and travel into your current lifestyle and schedule. This will help free up your mind to start thinking about how you can make it happen.
The next thing you need to do is change how you view vacation time.
Most Americans get two weeks of paid vacation a year. If you are one of the lucky ones who get more, hooray! The rest of us have to make do with two measly weeks.
The key is to use those two weeks wisely and think of other ways to take mini-vacations throughout the year.
There are a few things you can do to start changing your mindset about vacation time:
-Start looking at your work schedule and start blocking out potential long weekends that you could take.
-Start looking at national holidays and three-day weekends and start thinking about how you can turn those into mini vacations.
-If you are flexible with your job, start looking at the times of the year when business is slow and see if you can negotiate to take a week or two off.
-Look into working remotely. Many jobs these days are remote-friendly. If you have the option to work from home or even from another city for a week, see if your boss would be open to that idea.
Remember, it all starts with your mindset. A positive mindset is your best friend. If you start thinking about how to use your vacation time more efficiently, you will be on the right track.
Maximize your Paid Time Off
So we only have a certain amount of time off. No matter how you look at it, we can't add more hours to the day or more days to the week. Even if you have you're own business, you still have the same 24 hours a day.
The key is to make the most of the time that you do have and use your vacation time more efficiently.
There are several ways you can do this, which allows you the flexibility to travel more. Let's go over how to maximize your paid time off.
(1) Figure Out How Much time you Really Have
The first step is to sit down and figure out how much time off you have. If you had to guess how many days you have off from your job a year, what would that number be? 10, 20, maybe even 30.
Trust me. You will be surprised. Let's break it down.
Vacation Time or Paid Time Off (PTO)
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, ensure 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 much with those 10 days.
And I use every single one. I do not remember when I ever lost a vacation day, which is just not happening.
Action Step: Figure out how much time off you get a year. Then, figure out what you need to know to request time off and if there are any restrictions to taking time off. For example, some companies will only allow you to be out of the office for a certain amount of time you cannot exceed, or they may require you to get special permissions for extended time off. Do you're homework and have everything set and ready to go.
I get two weeks off yearly; therefore, that is 10 days.
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, so it is essential to know what holidays your company observes.
Every company is different, so make sure to reach out to HR for a list of the days your company observes.
Here is a list of the Holidays I get for 2023. This gives me an additional 10 days, so I am up to 20 days off now.
New Year's Day- Monday, January 2, 2023
Martin Luther King, Jr.- Monday, January 16, 2023
Washington's Birthday-Monday, February 20, 2023
Good Friday- Friday, April 7, 2023
Memorial Day-Monday, May 29, 2023
Juneteenth- Monday, June 19, 2023
Independence Day- Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Labor Day- Monday, September 4, 2023
Thanksgiving Day-Thursday, November 23, 2023
Christmas Day- Monday, December 25, 2023
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 a year, giving me another 104 days. Now I am up to 124 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.
It is time to start planning, which is our favorite part. Once again, I broke it down for you into a few different steps to make it easy.
Step 1: Make a list of places you would like to visit.
This is the part where you can have fun. Start by making a wish list of all the places you want to go to worldwide. It doesn't matter if it is southeast Asia or a new city a few hours away.
Have fun. Do a brand dump. Create a vision board if it makes you happy. Just take about 15-30 minutes and write every destination you can think of down. This is the part where we have fun and dream. It doesn't matter if it is a place you don't see yourself visiting soon. This is about putting everything on paper to know what we are working with.
Step 2: Figure out how much time you would need to visit each location.
This is going to be dependent on your travel style. Are you open to being a weekend warrior or prefer longer and slow travel?
Whatever the case may be, take a look at your list and think about realistically how much time you would need to set aside.
If you are traveling halfway around the world, that's a big trip that may require you to take at least a week off or more.
However, there may be destinations perfect for a long weekend or even day trips. You will be surprised.
Next to each location, note how much time you would need to enjoy that vacation.
I usually categorize my locations by Weekend, Long Weekend, and Week. Once you have your list, 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 the 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 more extended 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 2023, I am looking at at least 11 trips. If you do the math, I am only taking off 10 days, not including holidays and weekends.
Step 3: Play Travel Roulette
Now that I have my list, I next 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 specific locations. For example, I want wine tasting in Walla Walla, Washington. According to Google Flights, I can get cheap tickets in October. So guess what I am hoping to do in October?
Step 4: Don't underestimate weekend getaways.
Remember that whole conversation we had about mindset. Well, we are going to talk about it again. Some people might not think going away for a weekend is worth it. Still, I am here to tell you that with a bit of creativity and an open mind, you will be surprised at all the travel opportunities there are if you are open to being a weekend warrior.
How to Be a Weekend Warrior
There are so many places you can go for a quick weekend getaway. Flying to Europe probably wouldn't be ideal, but look for destinations within a two-hour flight or drive from home. I usually keep things flexible and have gone as far as California for 48 hours, and 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 worth it because I had the time of my life.
Step 5: Be Realistic and 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, found a flight leaving after work on a Friday, and flew back home on the red eye on Sunday. This gave me two full days in Sonoma, and I fit in two days of wine tours, a morning at the spa, and two of the best brunches I have had in my life.
But be realistic. Don't try to do too much in a short period if that is not your style. Give yourself some flexibility. The point is to have a good time and not burn yourself trying to fit a whole week's worth of activities during a weekend trip.
Not everyone has the luxury of working remotely; however, if you do or your company is open to the idea, remote work can be a great way to get more flexibility to travel the world.
If the idea of being a full-time traveler or working abroad for an extended period does not sound appealing, that is ok.
This is not what we are talking about here, we are talking about using your ability to work remotely to extend the time that you can spend in different places around the world.
Before you take the plunge and take a remote year to travel the world, there are a few things to keep in mind.
For most people working remotely sounds intriguing; however, it's best to test it out in your home country just to ensure it works for you.
Making a request to work remotely
If you currently cannot work remotely, the first step is to make a request for permission to work remotely. Assuming you have a job that can quickly be done from anywhere, most companies are more flexible with allowing their employees to work remotely, even if it is only for a few days a week.
Even if you can only work remotely a few days a week, this will be handy when trying to extend your time when traveling to a new location.
You can do a few things when preparing to make your request for remote work. However, there is one that trumps all others.
This is very important. Employers need to have a specific trust factor when working with remote workers. So before you make that request, you want to ensure that trust exists.
There are a lot of ways you can do this. But the best way is to always ensure that you are ahead of deadlines and consistently meet all your goals and objectives.
This shows your boss that you can be trusted to work independently without being in the office.
If you are not currently meeting all your goals and objectives, this is something you need to work on before making a request for remote work.
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 make up hours for a “free” day off.
Tips for Traveling while working Full-Time
So you got permission to work remotely. Woohoo! Let the fun begin.
However, before you book, there are some things you want to think about to prepare yourself to be productive while traveling.
Create a schedule
The first thing you want to do is create a schedule. Figure out what days you will be working remotely versus what days you will be taking off. Next, on the days you are working, figure out what your off hours will be so you can maximize your free time.
Sticking to a schedule will help you be productive and allow time to enjoy your surroundings. It's essential to not get too caught up in work while traveling, so ensure a good balance.
Managing Time Zones while Working Remotely
Scheduling can become a little tricky when you factor in time zones. Depending on where you are traveling, there may be a big time difference.
For example, if you work remotely from the United States east coast and your company is based on the west coast, your work day will start 3 hours earlier.
However, this can also work to your advantage. For example, this year, we took a trip to Madeira Island, where we chose to work remotely for 3 of the 7 days we were day.
We stuck to our east coast schedule, which worked out for us working from about 2pm-10pm local time. This worked out great for us because it gave us the whole morning to explore. Then in the late afternoon and evening, we would work, taking a break for dinner.
Staying Productive While Working Remotely
It could be hard to stay productive when working in a beautiful city. There are so many distractions; all you want to do is get out and enjoy. However, keep a few things in mind to stay productive during your working hours.
Join a Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces are great when working while traveling. Before you go, book a co-working space for the days you plan to work. Having a place to go to that is 100% dedicated to work will help you be more productive. Also, being surrounded by others that are hard at work will help you be less likely to be tempted by what is going on outside.
Find a Balance Between Working and Exploring
Finding a balance between work and play is the key to successfully working remotely while traveling. Make sure you set aside enough time to explore and enjoy your surroundings.
Schedule some downtime each day to rest or take a break from working. This will help refresh your mind and body so you can be productive when it is time to get back to work.
Set Some Ground Rules
Before you leave, agree upon some ground rules with your boss or company. For example, how many hours per day are they expecting you to work? What is the best way to stay in touch? What days will you be working? Setting these ground rules will help avoid any misunderstandings while you are away.
Tips for Getting more Paid Time Off
Sometimes the time we have is not enough. No matter how creative we are. However, that doesn't mean you throw in the towel and give up. There are a few ways that you can still negotiate your way to get some additional time off.
Say what. Why would I work overtime, Taima? Well, let me explain. While not all employers may offer 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. Put that extra 2 hours a day towards a “free” day off. This is a great way to accumulate extra time off.
Negotiate additional time off
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. While this might not work with all employers, it is worth a shot.
Let's say you only have two weeks of paid time off, but you hope to get a few extra days. Come up with a plan and talk to your employer.
Some tips to keep in mind:
-Have a plan for coverage while you are away.
-Offer to work a few extra hours before and after your time off to make up for the additional time
-Request additional time off when the workload is lighter, or things are slower.
-Request time off during the off-season. If you know everyone is going to be away for the holidays, offer to work during this time and take off in January when everyone is back at work. There is a lesser likelihood of your department being short-staffed. (Bonus: Traveling during the off-season or shoulder season is a great way to find awesome flight deals and save money when traveling).
Ask to take unpaid leave.
If you're really set on taking some time off, and neither of the above options is feasible, you can always ask to take unpaid leave.
This option should only be used as a last resort, but it's worth considering if you're desperate for some time away from work.
Just keep in mind that taking unpaid leave will likely result in a reduction in your salary, so make sure you're prepared financially before making this decision.
How to Travel While Working Full-Time
There are no secrets to how I have managed to travel while keeping a full-time 9-5 office job. With a little determination, flexibility, and creativity, you 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 offers us.
Before you go don’t forget to Pin this Post to your favorite Pinterest Board. Happy Exploring.
I love these tips! I’m forwarding to my husband ASAP! =)
Thank you so much. 🙂
Michelle Russo says
I loved this post! I work full time and feel exactly the same! This was so helpful! Thanks!
Thank you. Hopefully it will inspire you to schedule some fun trips for next year.
This is super helpful. I used to think 9-5 jobs kept you back from doing so much including traveling but you show how possible it is to still live life to the fullest and travel!
I am so happy you found this helpful. I think a lot of people just assume they can’t because they work full time. It is completely possible. Just have to be a bit creative. 🙂
These are some great tips! I’m in the same boat as far as a full time job and limited vacation time. Another thing I like to do is choose to work on a paid holiday and then use a floating holiday for when I want to create my own long weekend or add onto a longer trip. And that orange dress! ??
That is such a great idea. I love when people get creative with their time off. It’s there for a reason so we should always take advantage of it. Thank you for stopping by. I am glad you found it helpful.
Stevie Jewel says
Your organizing skills are so on point! It’s inspiring that you’re making the most of everything you do!
Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate that. I try my best to make use of every bit of time I can.
This was very helpful! Thanks for sharing your tips!
Oh! And you can certainly enjoy a weekend in Puerto Rico, but I swear you will want to go back for a full week to see and do all the island has to offer.
That’s my hometown and I’m super happy that it’s in your bucket list!
Yes!! I so agree. I could spend weeks there and still find something new to do or explore.