How to Travel Without Quitting Your Job
While the idea of quitting your job to travel the world sounds romantic, it’s definitely not for everyone. And it doesn’t need to be.
Before becoming a travel blogger, I had a regular 9-to-5 job like everyone else but I still managed to travel at least five times a year even with just 14 days of vacation days a year.
Let me give you the backstory.
I got hooked to travel after doing a study abroad program in Miami. To make the most of my time there, I spent all my weekends and holidays traveling around California, Florida, New York and the Bahamas. I ended up visiting more than ten cities around North America and I really got addicted to travel.
After graduating, I headed straight to London with a work holidaymaker visa to experience living in a different part of the world. I quickly got a job in a videoconference firm, it wasn’t fulfilling but it gave me 21 days of vacations days a year! Alberto and I made the most of our time in London and traveled as much as we could: on weekend trips to Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin; island-hopping sojourns in Greece; and summer jaunts all over Italy and Spain.
After a year, we moved to Madrid where I taught English, and we continued traveling all over Europe and further afield to Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Tanzania. From there, we moved back home to Singapore — and during this time, we traveled every other month: from scuba diving in Borneo to road-tripping around Australia, beach-bumming in the Philippines to visiting friends in Japan.
Over the span of five years, we actually traveled to more than 40 countries across four continents. How did we do it? We made travel a priority, we planned in advance, and we got creative.
Here are some tips I’ve picked up from my personal experience, that will hopefully help you travel more without quitting your job.
1. Take Advantage of Weekends
If you leave town on a Friday night and arrive back on Sunday night or early Monday morning, you have more than enough time for a fun and action-packed city break. Keep your eye on Groupon, which offers great hotel or holiday deals in major cities. I still use it these days to book quick trips around Spain with Alberto (who now has an office job) and our baby. You don’t have to go far to explore somewhere new — as I learned last year on our glamping trips around Spain.
We’ve had some amazing weekend trips, such as our beach bumming weekend in the Philippines, surprise trip to Venice for Valentine’s Day in 2007, couchsurfing in Oslo with my best friend, a yoga retreat in Portugal and more. If you choose places that are easy to reach (either by car or airplane) and not too far, you can actually experience quite a lot over a weekend!
2. Use Festive Holidays for Trips
If you aren’t especially religious, festive holidays like Christmas or Easter are a great time to travel. This is also a great excuse to miss Thanksgiving with your extended family! You’ll be making the most of your vacation days and spending the festive season somewhere special. For instance, you could be having a white Christmas in Lapland visiting Santa Claus’ home and going on reindeer rides. Or you could celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, where the celebrations are the biggest, loudest and most colorful!
Traveling during holiday season is usually more expensive than usual. Book early and opt for cheaper accommodation to keep your expenses low. If you prefer to spend the holidays with family, how about arranging a trip with everyone in the family? We just went on a family trip to Lake Tahoe over the Christmas holidays and it was truly a special experience for everyone.
3. ALWAYS Use Your Vacation Days
Americans in particular are notorious for leaving vacation days unused. After all, a recent survey from Harris Interactive found that Americans only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time each year.
One of the reasons people don’t use their vacation days is to prepare for an unexpected event. If you’re one of those waiting for a rainy day, check your company’s policies first. Most allow for bereavement time and days off for emergencies.
If you’re among the many who take less than full advantage of allotted vacation, make 2016 the year that you break that bad habit. Plan out all of your travel now, and use those days up.
4. Add Vacation Days to Long Weekends and Holidays
If you plan around holidays, you can really maximize your travel potential. Adding only four vacation days to a three-day-weekend gives you NINE days off from work (including the previous weekend). That is more than enough time to explore an exciting new country and cover at least two or three different areas in one trip. If you live in Europe, there are lots to explore a short flight away. These include lesser-known areas like Bosnia, Romania and Macedonia. I personally love these places and they are easily accessible from most parts of Europe.
Even if you tag on just one or two days to a long weekend, you’ll get four or five days. This is a perfect amount for an extended city break or hiking trip. Be warned that airfares for public holidays tend to be higher than usual. So plan way in advance before the prices get even higher.
5. Extend Work Trips
If you’re lucky enough to travel for work, discuss with your boss about adding on a few days at the end of a work trip (or the beginning). You’ll save on any transportation or plane tickets as you’ll already be in the destination. You’ll also get to explore a new place and get some downtime after all that busy work.
If your work tends to have you in places that don’t exactly interest you, look around! Maybe a nearby town or city (a bus, train, or short plane tide away) is more interesting and just a hop away.
6. Negotiate for More Days Off
Whether you’re starting a new job or your yearly performance review is coming around, don’t be afraid to negotiate for more days off. The worst answer you can receive is “no”. Even then at least you tried and at least you know (and can begin preparing your “Why Travel Makes Me a Better Employee” slideshow).
Be prepared that even if your boss says yes, you may have to give up other perks (like your bonus will be smaller or you get fewer sick days). If more time off is important to you, it will be worth it.
READ MORE: How to Travel Whenever You Want
7. Always Do Your Best Work
Which employee is more likely to receive a positive response to their vacation request: the slacker who is consistently late on deadlines and turns in halfhearted work, or the hard worker who respects timelines and goes above and beyond on every assignment?
Most employers recognize good employees, and will do what they can to retain outstanding ones — even if that means stretching the status quo. If extra travel time is important to you, be sure you’ve got your ducks in a row at work first, before trying to have the rules bent in your favor.
8. Discuss Flexible Scheduling
Would an extra day or two on the weekends amplify your ability to travel, especially nearby? Consider working ten days on and four days off. Or four days of ten hour work with three weekend days. While this schedule won’t work for professions that require a predetermined schedule (like teachers and secretaries, for example), it could be perfect for knowledge workers, creatives, and shift workers. You can use your extra weekend days to visit places or take fun city breaks that would be too far away to visit on a traditional two-day weekend.
9. Trade Salary for Vacation Time
Even if your boss is on a tight budget and can’t grant your request for additional (paid) vacation time, consider requesting unpaid vacation time. This request could be even more beneficial to your employer than to you. Especially if the company is in a slump or has hired on too many employees for the current workload. Your company saves money and you get to travel more!
You can make up for the lost income by taking on some freelance work or a side gig. Or instead of working more, try cutting some luxuries (cutting that daily Starbucks latte is a lot more palatable when you’re trading it for a week in Peru).
10. Rent Out Your Home to Pay for Your Vacation
If vacation days isn’t a problem and money is the issue, then consider renting out your home to make some extra income. Not only is it a great way to make some extra cash to fund your trips, it also lessens the risk of thieves targeting your vacant home. I know a few friends who rent out their places when they travel and they can earn around $1000 in just one week. This of course depends on where you live and whether your apartment is up to standards.
Airbnb is becoming an extremely popular accommodation provider — many travelers including myself stay at Airbnbs more often than hotels these days. If you are renting your property through Airbnb, you will have some coverage through their Host Guarantee program. However, the Host Guarantee does not protect cash and securities, pets, personal liability, or shared/common areas, so be sure to get a home insurance to protect your property.
11. Request Remote Work
If getting more vacation time away from work or changing up your schedule isn’t an option, you could consider negotiating remote work. Remote work can really open up your travel opportunities. Especially easy for businesses that operate on a cloud, creatives, and professionals that already work pretty independently. Remote work simply means doing your work away from the office or company environment.
A test run can really help your case. Offer to work remotely (or even from home) for the first time for just a few days, and plan to spend some extra time working out any kinks that pop up. This is also a great opportunity to see if you even really like remote working! After your short test run, you can return to the office with proof of your outstanding remote work abilities. Your boss will hopefully give the okay to future, longer remote work assignments.
12. Discuss Transfers to a Foreign Office
If you work for a big international company, they will have offices or operations in other countries. It doesn’t hurt to ask your boss about the possibility of a short term or long term transfer. I actually was lucky to get a transfer from my office in Singapore to their branch in London when I got my work holidaymaker visa to work there temporarily. I didn’t get an expat package or anything, but at least I was assured a job when I got there. We’ve recently moved to Amsterdam and have found it such a great location from which to travel – we’re definitely gonna make use of our weekends to explore Central Europe.
Living abroad can be one of the best ways to get to know a country and culture in depth. I’ve been living abroad for more than 15 years now and highly recommend trying it at least once in your life!
Do you have a full-time job? Are you aspiring to travel more without quitting your job?
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Source: Wild Junket