There are so many reasons why travel is a high priority in many people’s lives. It can improve your happiness, expand your horizons, offer exciting new experiences, and give you time to relax and unwind – just to name a few of the benefits. But traveling isn’t always as easy as we’d wish for it to be. In addition to requiring a decent chunk of money, traveling also necessitates free time, something that the average working adult doesn’t usually have too much of.
When you’re working a full-time job, it can be incredibly challenging to find the time to travel, resulting in many of us feeling disappointed that we don’t get more opportunities to see the world. But the truth is that traveling with a full-time job is totally possible. I have traveled to 45 countries (so far!) while working a corporate job. It just requires some effort, careful planning, and ingenuity.
But most of all, it requires you to really prioritize travel and make time for traveling. Because the perfect time to travel will never come if you just sit around waiting for it. So why not take the reins into your own hands and be proactive about finding time for travel? After all, when you get to your later days, you probably won’t remember every single day that you showed up to work, but you will remember living and enjoying your life to the fullest.
To help you fulfill your travel dreams, this article offers eleven top tips for traveling with a full-time job. So read on and get out there!
If you have a full-time job, you probably already know how challenging it can be to balance pleasure (travel) with business. Somehow, it seems like there is a never-ending stream of work to do, and there are simply never enough vacation days.
The average American receives a measly ten days of paid time off a year, barely enough for making it around the world. Plus, how can you possibly find the time and energy to plan a trip when your job is draining you and using up all of your mental energy for eight or more hours a day?
Yet traveling the world is still one of the most common dreams people have. In October 2020, a whopping 95 percent of people reported that they wanted to travel in the next 15 months. So what do you do if you have a full-time job? Read on below for tips to make it happen!
It’s easy to use your full-time job as an excuse for why you never have the opportunity to travel. But some people do manage it better than others. We all know those perpetually tan, smiling people who are always fresh off their most recent trip to an exotic locale, even though they work a full-time job. So how the heck do they pull it off? Well, here are some tips that can make it easier to take steps to travel.
Ok, don’t roll your eyes at this one yet! Some jobs are much more travel-friendly than others. In fact, there are certain careers that even require you to travel. For example, if you want to really build travel into your professional life, you can look into a career as a traveling musician, a flight attendant, a digital nomad, an English teacher, or a foreign service officer.
Many large corporations are now allowing remote work and there are global positions that actually require travel to visit clients, field offices, and sites. These positions can be in Sales, Operations, Coaching/Training, etc. It might be time to investigate at your current employer what some of these other roles do and if you can work your way into one of them.
I actually did this at the same employer, moving from a role that supported North America only, to a similar role that is global. The experience of working with colleagues in other countries expanded my horizons and refreshed my perspective on the role I was in for several years.
Of course, it’s not always an option to choose one of those careers that involve travel, but there are also other jobs that make it easier to travel by offering more flexibility. Teachers, for example, have a built-in vacation period every summer, and working in the service industry often allows you to work seasonally such that you can take longer periods of time off every year.
So if you’re in a place in your life where it’s possible to choose a new career, find a new job, or pivot to a new industry or role at your current place of work, keep travel in mind as one of your considerations.
Even if you don’t end up in a role that allows you to travel easily, you can always choose an employer who offers policies that facilitate traveling. For example, you can try to choose a company with a flexible paid time off policy, or one that has international offices that you can work at interchangeably.
When you are interviewing for new jobs, don’t hesitate to ask your potential employer what their policies are regarding flexible working days, yearly schedules, paid time off, and vacation. After all, if travel is important to you, it’s a great idea to find an employer who also values it.
In the United States, we often have a hustle culture that makes us feel like we have to put all of our time and effort into work. As a result, many people never take their vacation days, ending up with a whole bunch of them leftover every year. In 2019, a record 768 million U.S. vacation days went unused. If you love to travel, don’t be one of those people who never use their precious vacation days.
Know that there is absolutely no shame in taking time off. After all, everybody needs a break every once in a while – and your employer should never penalize you for taking the time off you are entitled to. If they do, it’s a pretty good sign you might want to look for a new job.
As we continue to learn more about mental health, the tide is shifting to where employers are actively encouraging taking your allowed time off so that you can take care of yourself.
4. Take Advantage of Travel Opportunities at Work
If it’s important for you to travel around and see the world, do your best to keep your eyes open for opportunities to travel for work.
For example, maybe there are trade shows or work conferences that your boss is looking to send somebody to. Make it known to your manager that you are interested in these opportunities so they will consider you when they come up. In fact, you can be even more proactive by looking up these types of events on your own and pitching your boss to allow you to attend them.
A lot of the time, we imagine vacations as these long trips that last for a week or more and have a hard time finding enough time off to do them. But a vacation doesn’t have to be lengthy. Even a long weekend of three or fours days can give you enough time to get away, see a new place, and relax.
Many people who successfully find the time to travel while working a full-time job do so by taking one or two days off at a time and doing many long weekend trips.
One of the smartest things you can do as a full-time worker who also loves to travel is to make clever use of the holidays that you already get a paid vacation day for.
In the United States, for example, November and December are great months to travel, as most people already get work off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and Day. Much of the time, with some careful finesse, you can take a ten-day winter vacation but only actually burn up two or three days of paid time off.
7. Consider Taking Your Work With You
Ever since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, work arrangements have been more flexible than ever. A huge number of companies offer work from home, remote jobs, or are even 100% remote, with employees located all over the country and even the world.
So it’s not impossible to imagine that your boss might let you go abroad as long as you can bring your work with you and continue to do your job “from home” while you’re away. The main concern to address is your availability based on the current time zone you support.
So go ahead and pitch an arrangement where you work from Japan, or Greece, or wherever for a couple of weeks. You might be surprised how amenable your company is to the idea.
8. Stay Local
Naturally, traveling internationally requires more money and time, something that can be difficult to come by when you’re working full-time. But local vacations are no less valuable than lengthier, long-distance ones.
You’d be surprised to learn how many interesting destinations are probably available to you with just a few hours of driving time spent traveling. You can do these types of trips on an average weekend and you won’t even have to take any vacation days.
Here’s a pro tip for somebody who is really serious about making time for traveling: when you are negotiating your compensation package for a new job or because you’re getting a raise, you should know that you can always ask for more vacation days. After all, your compensation is more than just your salary, and your benefits include more than just your medical insurance.
Just by asking, you can start a new job with an entire extra week or two’s worth of paid time off that you can use to travel with every year.
A sabbatical, or a period of paid leave granted to (usually) university professors so they can study or travel, may not be commonplace in every field, but it’s definitely something you can ask for.
If you’ve been with your company for long enough – like seven years, for example, you’ve probably demonstrated your loyalty and won some brownie points. So don’t hesitate to ask your manager if it could be possible for you to get a few weeks or months off. If you’re open to getting this time off unpaid, your chances of successfully having your request granted will be even higher.
On average, people usually change jobs every 4.2 years. And when you change jobs, you have a golden opportunity right in your hands for traveling. Ask your new employer for a start date a little bit further into the future and take the time between jobs to travel. If you fit the statistic, this can allow you one pretty big trip every four or so years. Not bad, huh?
Traveling is infinitely good for the soul. It gives you an opportunity to get away from the pressure and stress that you probably face in your full-time job, relax, and refresh. It allows you to taste new cuisines, see new sights, and meet new people. It helps you learn about yourself, your travel companions, and the world around you. It gives you quality time to spend with your loved ones – or with the number one love of your life: yourself. And it offers a refreshing perspective about what really matters in life: having meaningful, unique experiences.
In addition, travel actually makes you better at your job! Research has shown that travel increases your creativity, problem-solving, leadership and confidence that benefits you in the workplace.
All of these things don’t come easily. They require you to put the effort into actually doing your research, planning your trips, and making the time in your busy work schedule to go ahead and see the world. But once you do it, you’ll be so happy that you did, and each subsequent time will be easier and easier.
I hope that these eleven tips will help make traveling while working a full-time job more doable for you. Because everybody deserves to benefit from all of the marvelous advantages that come from traveling – especially people who dedicate themselves, their time, and their hard work to their careers and supporting their families.
Now, what are you waiting for?