In 2012, while preparing for my trip to South East Asia, I came across a travel blog, called Adventurous Kate, run by an American girl, who in 2010 quit her 9-5 job to travel South East Asia for 6 months. Kate’s stories put me at ease about embarking on my first ever solo trip, they helped me get off the beaten path in SEA and push myself outside of my comfort zone. And for a while I felt like I could really relate to Kate. For those 2 months on the road, I was just like her. I was a nomad. I didn’t have a permanent address, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have commitments, and for once in my life I didn’t have a plan…
… and I absolutely loved it!!!
It didn’t take me long to understand why after spending 6 months in SEA Kate never went back to her 9-5 routine. At the end of my 2 months trip, more than anything in the world, I wanted to do the same! But, I knew that I couldn’t. I had just finished my MBA degree and had to leave my incredible South East Asia adventure to go back to a 9-5 job and start paying off my gigantic student loan.
They say, once you catch the travel bug, it never really goes away. And it’s true. My passion for travel only grew stronger. I would spend my days couped up in cubicle working 9-5 (well more like 8-7, but who’s counting right?), and my nights dreaming about my next adventure. My travel dreams soon lead me to discover a number of other blogs, many of which were careful recaps of regular people, like you and I, adventuring around the world. Yes! You guessed it, none of these bloggers were living their travel dreams from inside the walls of an office. And the more blogs I found, the more I learned about people who quit their jobs to travel the world. And at times it really depressed me. I just couldn’t do the same…and I still can’t!
I know I’m not the only one out there. I know there are thousands of us, travel addicts, who live and breathe travel, but for one reason or another we find ourselves unable to just pick up and go. Maybe you are way over your head in debt, like I am, or maybe there is a family commitment that’s tying you down, or a health issue, or a partner who can’t just uproot their life, or maybe you actually really like your job and have no interest in quitting it.
Luckily, for you and I, over the last 2 years, I learned that you don’t have to quit your job to travel the world!
Over the last year, I have been on 15 trips! Yes, that’s right, that’s more than 1 trip per month. I’ve been to 4 different countries, and spent a total of 80 days away from my current home in Brisbane. Some of my trips were long 4 week adventures, others, short 3 days getaways, but all of them added up to almost 3 months of travel! And guess what? I still have a 9-5 job!
How Do I Do It?
If there was one thing I learned over the last few years, it is that if you truly LOVE to travel, it has to be your #1 priority! For me, travel always comes first. It comes before new clothes or new things, before buying a car or a house. It comes before expensive nights out with friends or relaxing weekends in bed. Every day away from work is an opportunity to get away and explore, be it in your own backyard or a 5 hour flight away.
Clearly, my favourite travel bloggers have had this figured out a long time ago, and every one of them was eager to share their tips and advice with me and with you to help us travel more while still working full time!
Tip #1: Take Advantage of Public Holidays and Long Weekends
This is one of the smartest and best travel hacks out there. It’s so simple, yet very few people seem to be taking advantage of it. Depending on your country of residence you could be looking at upwards of 6-8 public holidays throughout the year, excluding Christmas and New Year’s. That’s 6-8 long weekend trips per year!
Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic agrees,
“Travel doesn’t always need to mean leaving the country or even jumping on a plane. Some of my favourite holidays have been taking the train to Montreal or road trips within my province. Booking an extra day off work and spending a long weekend somewhere new can be just as satisfying as heading South” – Ayngelina
So instead of spending the next public holiday hanging out with friends at a pub, why not book a little escape? You could go camping, explore another city, or even catch a cheeky flight and spend a weekend in a completely different country! Now that’s my definition of a GREAT WEEKEND!
Megan from Mapping Megan suggests:
“…traveling within your own backyard still counts as travel, and this is the easiest way to do so for someone who doesn’t have the luxury of taking time off.
Utilizing weekends and public holidays is one of the best ways to explore your surrounding area. Short weekend trips are still considered travel, and some of my best travel memories have been on trips within a few hours from my home. You need to remember that people travel halfway across the world to see parts of your country or State, and I guarantee there are exciting attractions and areas you are yet to discover. We’re so quick to jump on a longhaul flight to get to that exotic destination, but what about the National Park down the road from you? The pristine white beaches an hour away? Short escapes are often the best kind!” – Megan
And don’t forget to make good use of Christmas and New Year’s! If your family really wants to spend Christmas with you, why not spend a family Christmas away?
Tip #2: Use Vacation Time Wisely
Despite the fact that your official yearly vacation may only be 2-3 weeks, it is often possible to negotiate more time off or take a few days/weeks of unpaid leave. Tack on a few unpaid days where you can and maximize the time you can spend away!
When I reached out to Kate, from Adventurous Kate she shared some great advice:
“Don’t be afraid to negotiate more vacation time rather than a raise, and don’t discount the possibility of taking off unpaid time so that you can travel for longer. It’s easy to think that everything is cut and dried when you’re hired, but almost everything can be negotiated, both at the time of hire and at a later date.” – Kate
So next time you’ve accumulated 8 days of paid leave, why not take a few unpaid days and turn your short holiday into a 2 week trip? Hey, that’s enough time to not only see the main sights and attractions, but also to get off the beaten path and really immerse yourself in local culture!
Tip #3: Switching Jobs? Take Some Time off in Between!
Our generation is known for job hopping! We are not really good at sticking to the same job and the same employer for too long. I’m sure at one point or another each and everyone of you have switched jobs, gotten a promotion, or even changed companies altogether. But like most people, you probably gave yourself zero time in between!
Audrey from That Backpacker has used a better strategy:
“As a young twenty-something year old fresh out of university, I sometimes found myself working temp jobs where contracts were only a few months in length. I used this to my advantage and decided to use my time in between jobs to travel. Between the end of one contract and the start of another, I sometimes had a couple of weeks of free time, which was enough time for a short jaunt here and there. Just be creative with whatever time you have off work, and use that to plan smaller trips here and there.” – Audrey
I’ve been following this strategy for years! In 2012, I managed to negotiate 2 months off before I started my job in China, allowing me to embark on my 2 months adventure in SEA. And when I moved in Australia in 2013, I purposefully traveled via Philippines, allowing myself to do something I’ve always wanted to, before going back to the corporate world.
Chances are that the first time you ask, the answer will almost always be “No”, but once you explain your rationale and how important this experience is to you, they’ll be much more likely to say “Yes”
Robert from Leave You Daily Hell suggests:
“…if you don’t want to sacrifice the job you love for travel, be open with your company about it. If they know that traveling is equally important to you as excelling in your position, they’re more likely to let you take time off when you want. Perform at an extra-high level when you return from your trips to show them they’ve made a good decision by allowing you to take time off and travel.” – Robert
Tip #4. Save more, so you can travel more!
One of the biggest barriers to more travel is money! I hear about it over and over from friends, family, co-workers, and my readers.
“I have a full time job, but I’m spending so much, I can’t afford to take unpaid leave to travel more” – they say.
Sounds familiar? For most people, money is tight, so saving for travel isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly isn’t impossible! Here are just a few ideas…
1. Say no to daily Starbucks and you’ll save close to $1000 by the end of the year!
2. Bring your own lunch to work at least 2-3 days a week and you could save over $2000 a year!
3. Limit yourself to only 2-3 drinks at the bar and put the value of that 4th drink into a savings account =$500 a year!
4. Stop shopping! You have enough skirts and dresses for a whole month of no-repeat outfits to wear to work = $1000 a year!
5. Get a housemate to help you split rent and bills! ….
The list goes on and on… you get the point. I live on a strict budget of $1500/month and always think of expenses in terms of travel. The savings allow me to not only to pay off my debt and live a comfortable life in Australia, but also save enough to be able to afford to take unpaid leave and travel to the other side of the world for just a 2 week trip!
Tip #5: Travel to destinations that don’t break the bank
There are lots of places around the world where you can comfortably travel on less than $50 a day. If you always choose to travel to the most popular destination, during the most popular time of the year, you’ll almost always pay more!
Johnny from One Step 4 Ward, who has traveled to over 100 countries around the world suggests that we change up our attitude:
“Comfort zones drag us back to the same places all too often, whether that’s long term travelers or bi-annual holiday makers. I think we need to push ourselves more, that same resort/city/country isn’t going to be so different from last time around so look further afield and you’ll be rewarded for it. And don’t necessarily stick with the good old faithful destinations, other more obscure destinations can often offer much more, and much better prices. Think more Montengro, Philippines and Uzbekistan and less Spain, Thailand and Turkey. Holding an attitude like this over a few years and you’ll see the world in no time.” – Johnny
The more I travel, the more I start to agree with Johny and the more I find my travel plans changing to include countries that I would have never even thought of visiting a few years ago! But more on that some other time.
The last, but most important tip…
Tip #6: Just Do It!
Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel gave me the best advice of all:
“I think for many people the biggest barrier to travel is actually just making the commitment to do it. If you really want to do something you will find a way to fit it into your life”- Stephanie
Full time jobs, not enough vacation time, not enough money, nowhere to go… these are all excuses we use to keep ourselves in our cozy little comfort zones.
If we put our minds to it and make travel our #1 priority, there is nothing stopping us from seeing the world, and living lives just as exciting as travel bloggers we follow!
* Big THANK YOU to Kate, Ayngelina, Megan, Audrey, Robert, Johnny, and Stephanie for contributing their words of wisdom to this post!
Like this post? Pin it for later
Which one of these tips is your favourite?
Do you have your own tips to add?