Love travel but also want a fulfilling career? You don’t have to quit your job to see the world. Here’s our guide on how to travel more with a full time job.
Heads up! I am not a trained, qualified financial adviser. I would advise you find one to help with your own unique situation. Cheers.
How to travel more with a full time job
For many of us, travel is one of the most enriching experiences you can have. It widens horizons, opens new perspectives, and creates memories that last a lifetime. However, the constraints of a full-time job are real. From limited vacation days to busy work schedules, finding the time and resources to travel can be challenging.
How I travelled when working full time
Yet, there are ways to travel more with a full-time job. In truth, I’ve always had an unusual work pattern. As a doctor, I worked crazy hours, lots of nights, twilights and weekends. But that did mean I could travel on a Tuesday. Then, as a freelance writer and photographer, I could set my own schedule. Now, as the founder of Inside the Travel Lab and Head of Digital at Bradt, travel is baked into the working pattern. And, in part, that’s one of the solutions to having a career while travelling the world: finding a profession that embraces the travel side of things.
But I know that’s not very helpful to most people out there, who have a more standard full time job with full time hours.
Travel within the 9-5
And so, for this article, I sourced other opinions from those who really have juggled the 9-5 with travel. And then, I’ve added my advice in as and when relevant.
In short, here is a list of my best tips for seeing the world while keeping your career on track.
As with many things in life, it’s either time or money that stops us from doing what we’d like. So let’s break them down.
How to find the money to travel more
First of all, establish your goals. Which is a fancy way of saying write down your dreams.
Once you have established your travel goals and decided where you are going to spend your long weekend or summer vacation, it will be so much easier to find the motivation for the rest of it.
Budgeting is an essential element of travel planning for most people. Now, you can really drill down on the detail or sketch out a vague overview. But you do need to do something.
- Did you know? There’s a fully responsive travel budget spreadsheet available in our Travel Toolbox© You can find your copy here.
Flights and Hotels
Research the destination you plan on visiting, checking plane ticket and hotel costs. If you are taking a long vacation, it may be worth booking a room further from the city centre as you will have plenty of time to explore the area, but for shorter trips, location is essential. If you want to squeeze in as many activities as possible, make sure to budget more for accommodation so you can afford a room close to the main attractions.
Food and Activities
Another aspect to think about is how much money you will need to bring for food and activities. Research the main attractions of your destination and decide what museums, castles, cathedrals, and other landmarks you would like to visit. It never hurts to try to include as many free attractions as possible.
With your budget ready, calculate how much time you have until your trip and set an amount you need to save each mount. This is so much easier with a goal in mind. Yes, we can all laugh at the “giving up your daily Starbucks” advice, but sometimes these small purchases we make without thinking can add up to a lot when you’re starting out.
If your finances are in a better position, then you can use more sophisticated ways to save money. It’s hard to give advice here without knowing which country you’re in but make sure you’re making the most of any tax free savings vehicles (like ISAs in the UK) and any mortgage flexibility or check through your other investments. It might well be worth talking to a personal financial adviser and telling them how important it is for you to travel more.
Then, there are personal loans. These can get you to your goals faster but, of course, you have to pay them back, often with interest. With the caveat that you should never take financial advice from a blogger on the internet, it is helpful to start with this article on the pros and cons of personal loans here.
Be flexible to save money
One of the quickest and easiest ways to save money when you travel is to be more flexible. Who says that you must take your vacation in the summer? Or that you always need to travel with your partner or family or friends. To travel more even with a full time job, you need to be flexible and use all the great deals travel operators offer, especially during the shoulder season.
Here are a few tips on how you can travel cheaper, which can further translate into travelling more.
Travel during the off season or mid-week
Off-season travel often means lower prices for flights, accommodations, and activities. Mid-week travel can also be less expensive than travelling on weekends when prices are often higher due to increased demand.
If you travel off-season or catch a Monday morning flight to your destination, you have better chances of finding smaller crowds. That also makes it easier to see more in less time, find good restaurants serving local food at decent prices and save money on accommodation.
Not to mention that you may get better weather. Why go to Barcelona in July and get scorched as you wait in line to visit La Sagrada Familia when you can explore the town in autumn when the weather is milder, and humidity drops?
Go off the beaten track
When everybody is heading south, you go north. Or the other way around. There are plenty of new places for you to discover that are just as fascinating (or maybe more fascinating) than their more popular counterparts.
For example, if you are travelling to Southeast Asia, visit Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar instead of Thailand and Vietnam. Or go for the Garden Route, Kruger National Park, and the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa and leave Cape Town and Johannesburg for another time.
Hidden gems are often cheaper and less frequently visited, so you will get the chance to connect with local people and learn about their culture at a more intimate level.
Embrace the red-eye
Booking an early morning or late-night flight can have several advantages when travelling, especially if you’re on a short trip during weekend breaks.
By choosing to arrive early in the morning, you can make the most of your limited time in a new city. For example, if you book a Friday night flight, you can arrive early Saturday morning and have a full day to explore before returning to your home city on Sunday night. This can be a great way to fit a couple of days’ worth of activities into a short trip.
Moreover, with early morning or late-night flights, you can avoid spending too much time in transit. For instance, if you’re travelling from the east coast to the west coast of the United States, booking a red-eye flight can help you adjust to the time zone change and give you enough time to explore your destination.
How to find the time to travel more
There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous. But for most people with a full time job, if you don’t have a well-established plan for your trips, the chances are that you will fill your weekends with other activities, always thinking that you will have more time next week or next month.
And then another year rolls by and you still haven’t been to those places you longed to see.
So, find a date and and book something irreversible, like a plane ticket. The rest will fall into place after that.
Make use of weekends and bank holidays for short trips
Take out your phone and do a little research to see how many weekends and public holidays you still have left this year. Or even better, look if there’s a bank holiday weekend coming up.
Weekends are perfect for nearby destinations, while weekends coupled with national holidays like Christmas or Easter can give you a few extra days to explore bigger cities or destinations that take longer to reach.
Make a list with all the free dates and circle those that are close to each other. You may be able to take a day or two off and extend your vacation.
Request time off in advance for longer trips
Taking a big trip requires more planning as you will be off from work for a week or two, and this means that your employer will need to find a way to compensate for your absence.
Whether you are travelling to a different country or taking a long road trip without crossing the border, make sure to let your employer know well in advance.
Many companies have limited vacation days available for their employees, and these days may be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. By requesting your annual leave days early, you increase your chances of getting the time off you need whenever you plan longer trips.
Embrace solo travel
While travelling with a best friend or a group can be fun, there’s something special about hitting the road or taking a flight to explore new destinations on your own.
When you’re travelling solo, you have complete control over your itinerary. This is especially true if you’re on unpaid leave or don’t have strict travel commitments. You can take your time travelling solo in Spain, hit the waves on a solo cruise, check out the best Caribbean islands for solo travel or travel on your own to Jordan to take in the Dead Sea and Petra.
Take a look at these inspiring quotes for solo travel to build up your confidence.
Advantages of solo travel
One of the best things about solo travel is that you can explore at your own pace. Whether you want to spend an entire day lounging on the beach or hiking to the top of a mountain, the choice is yours. You can also be more spontaneous when travelling alone, as you won’t have to worry about anyone else’s plans or preferences.
And when it comes to how you can travel more with a full time job, travelling solo removes the need to juggle time off and permissions from different bosses. Instead of missing out while all those shenanigans are going on, just sort out your own leave and then get to it.
Use work-travel opportunities to save both time and money
Do you still feel as though you don’t have enough time to travel? Try to mix it in with work.
Combining work trips with personal travel is a great way to see new places and make the most of your time on the road. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Consider remote work – if your job allows for remote work, take advantage of it by extending your travel time and exploring your destination outside of business hours. Becoming a digital nomad can give you extra free time to see the sights and experience the local culture.
- Use your free days wisely – if you have free days during your business travel, use them to explore the city or nearby areas. You can also take weekend trips to nearby destinations. This is a great way to see more of the world without taking too much unpaid time off work.
- Plan your trip – planning is key when it comes to combining work trips with personal travel. Coordinate with your boss or colleagues to ensure that your travel plans align with your work schedule. You should also be aware of time zones and give yourself enough time to adjust.
- Maximise your time – if you’re a full-time employee, you may not have much time for personal travel. To make the most of your free time, consider working extra hours before or after your business trip to free up more time for personal travel.
- Find a job that pays you to travel – finally, if your current job doesn’t allow you to travel as much as you would like, maybe it’s time for a new job. Examples of careers in the travel industry include travel writers, travel photographers, travel agents, tour guides, cruise ship workers, and flight attendants. But you could also volunteer and explore other countries while starting a travel blog. Crazier things have happened!