One of the reasons for adding a travel category to my blog was to share how I travel frequently while working full-time. Since catching the travel bug back in 2012, I have taken a combination of 4-5+ domestic and international trips without spending a ton of money or quitting my job. While scrolling through Facebook, a friend of mine posted this as his status:
Maybe I’m hating, but I’m seeing people take 4 and 5 vacations a year. When do you guys get time to work?
After informing him that he was indeed hating, I decided to share a few tips on how I and able to travel with a full-time job.
Make the Decision to Travel More
This is sometimes easier said than done, but if you want to travel while working full-time, you have to make the decision that this is something you want to do. If you keep making excuses it won’t get done. Plan out the destinations you want to visit, create a travel fund, and start saving money.
Use Your Vacation Days Wisely
When researching ways to travel with a full-time job, I first looked at the number of vacation days received for the year and planned my trips around the calendar. Working as a contractor in Financial Technology, I didn’t get a paid vacation so I worked ALL THE TIME. Most companies provide at least 10 paid vacation days (or two weeks) a year for new employees to start. If you work at a company that doesn’t let you roll over vacation days, MAKE SURE TO USE THEM! When looking for a new job, I researched companies that provided both vacation and medical benefits. I’m fortunate to have found a company that provided three weeks of vacation upon hire and encourages us to take vacations.
Travel During Holidays
As I learned how to balance traveling while working full-time, I’ve taken both domestic and international trips during holiday weekends. Vacation days normally don’t include personal days or the 7-10 or more paid Holidays. If the holiday falls on a Monday, you can easily create a Friday-Monday or Saturday-Tuesday trip. Living in NYC and close to the airport has its advantages because direct flights to the Southern US and Caribbean are sometimes between 2-5 hours. If you work in a field that blocks off specific times of the year like back to school, inventory, tax season, or the holidays, plan your vacations before or after the black out days.
Take Day or Weekend Trips
The easiest way to travel while working full time is to take a day trip or weekend trip. Visiting the next city or town within your state or the next state over counts as travel and you can have as much fun as you would if you were halfway around the world. For weekend trips, I usually book a flight or drive off on a Friday night and return home on a Sunday night. If it is a day trip, I will leave early on Saturday or Sunday. Whether I’m flying or driving, I try my best to have a 3-4 hour max travel time so I can enjoy most of my time at the destination.
Schedule an Evening or Red-Eye Flight
I don’t do this often and don’t suggest doing so if you can’t fall asleep on the plane, but booking an evening flight or red-eye allows you to work the full day and just sleep on the plane. If I book a red-eye flight, depending on the destination, I usually land in the morning or afternoon so I am ready to explore the destination or take a nap after a post-flight shower.
Take Extended Weekends
Unless your job specifically says so, you do NOT have to use all your vacation days in the same week. Take off the Friday and/or Monday to create a 3-4 day extended weekend. Some of my favorite domestic trips like to Miami, and New Orleans have been during extended weekends, using one or two vacation days at a time. You can also combine extended weekends with Holidays like what I did for international trips to Tobago, Cuba, and Aruba. If I’m visiting a new city, I use Trip Advisor to see what activities can be done during my stay to maximize my time.
I have the ability to work from home as long as there is a reliable internet connection and I notify management in advance. I took advantage of this during the holiday season the first year at my current job. My family planned a last-minute trip to Ocean City, MD, and my vacation was denied due to my coworker having seniority. Luckily, my manager informed me of the department’s optional work from home schedule during the Christmas and New Year’s week. We didn’t stay the full week in Maryland, but I was able to work and enjoy time with my family for the holidays. Not every employer offers the option to work from home but it is a plus during family emergencies, cold days, snowstorms, or if I find a great flight deal and have limited vacation days.
Travel for Work
An easy way to travel with a full-time job is to get a job that includes travel. There are tons of jobs OUTSIDE the air and transportation industries that have employees travel domestically and internationally at the company’s expense. If you’re about that “travel for work” life, just make sure you’re always on your A-Game. You don’t want to get fired for silly things like missing an important meeting or deadline because you decided to enjoy the nightlife or sleep in.
Plan Ahead, but be Flexible
Typically I travel at least once a season. Some trips are spontaneous while others are planned well in advance. When I finally pick my destinations, I check prices on flights and hotels at least 2-3 months prior. Since I usually travel solo, it is easier than trying to figure out someone else’s travel schedules. There are also times when I book spontaneous trips if I find a glitch fare or awesome deal available online. If you have a travel buddy, send a quick text or social media post and make that last-minute trip. Most of the time you have 24 hours to cancel the flight.
Take Advantage of Flight Deals
Another way to travel with a full-time job is to take advantage of flight deals. Airfare can be expensive so finding a glitch fare gives the ability to save money for future trips. Subscribing to The Flight Deal, Airfare Watch Dog, and other travel-related sites on social media have opened my eyes to see deals that are available from NYC and other states.