When I tell people that I’m a travel blogger, I usually get confused looks when I go on to say that my full-time job isn’t travel blogging. I get the looks coupled with questions, such as, “How do you manage to travel around a full-time job?”, “If you have a 9 – 5 job, how do you ever go on any adventures?” and “How can you have the time to travel?”. And all I can say in return is that with a bit of creative thinking, a dash of planning and a spritz of ‘work hard, play hard’, it is possible and it’s within reach for everyone to enjoy travel. Desk job or no desk job.
One thing that really bugs me is when people don’t believe that you can travel and live a life soaked in wanderlust if you happen to also spend a lot of your waking hours in an office. You don’t have to be a digital nomad or a freelancer to get some travel in your life, but I sure would love to be able to have a beach as my office and drink coconuts beneath palm trees on my lunch break, instead of hurriedly chowing down a soup at my beige desk. Everyone will live and lead different lives and it’s just a shame that my routine days just aren’t as instagramable.
I can safely say that whatever job I’m in and whatever lifestyle I choose to lead, travel will always be part of my DNA – I’ve made it so for 27 years, it would be a hard habit to break now! So instead of giving up and curling under my desk to sleep through a stationary life, I’ve collated some tips on how you can inject travel into your life without sacrificing your day job.
How to travel around a full-time job
Don’t waste any holiday
The great thing about holidays is that you still get paid while you have these days off! The down side is that they are restricted. You are limited by how many days off you can take in a year so it involves an element of forward planning – bang goes any spontaneity! You can’t randomly book a two week trip or a month wander and expect your boss to high-five you when you break the news.
So when you get hold of a snippet of holiday, don’t let it escape you. With a busy job, you may sometimes feel that you just want a spare few days to take a big nap and switch off from the world (which I totally get), but ignore this urge as best you can. Don’t spend these free days lying down in bed watching Netflix – be sure to make the most of this precious free time! Escape your city, escape your town, escape your country. It may seem like a hassle when you’re frantically tying things up at the office whilst simultaneously checking your packing list, but once you take a deep breath away from the norm, you’ll remember it is always worth it.
Strategise your time
Weekends can easily transform into lovely mini-breaks, all you need to do is remember to get organised and strategise your time. Plan ahead of time and either make use of public holiday long weekends, or book a Friday or Monday off to extend that weekend just a touch in order to make a trip more substantial.
Travelling on a weekend can be a bit more expensive, but if you have a steady income, you may find it easier to handle. If you want to keep an eye on the budget, sign-up to airline newsletters and inspect any airline sales that may pop up. As soon as you see a cheap flight ping up (and who knows, it may be to a place that had never before been on your radar), have your credit card and passport ready to go! Just make sure that you don’t fly home 2 hours before you have to be back at work…
Grab those weekends by the balls
That’s right, don’t let these precious few days go! Sure, we may spend 5 days waiting for the weekend that blink by in what seems like 5 minutes, but that just means you’ve got to make every hour count. You may not have enough holiday to sporadically sprinkle extra days alongside your weekends, but this means that you should make the most of these few days off.
It’s easy to let them slide by, as another one is only ever 5 days away, but you could go 6 months thinking this way. And then before you know it, you’ve gone crazy and have exploded up the walls of your office.
Think, plan, organise, prepare… or just spontaneously hit the road as soon as you power down your computer at 5pm on Friday. Whether you have a partner in crime or you’re going solo; grab a map, grab a good book, grab a hip-flask and take off into the wild. Some breathing space from your everyday life can work wonders and rejuvenate you to the max. They won’t even recognise you come Monday morning.
Hold out for an epic trip
It’s a tough challenge, but if you can hold on and survive the majority of the year without taking a break, you can blow all your annual leave with one luxuriously long holiday. Gone are the days when I would get weeks upon weeks of holiday whilst at university – today’s life means that I am able to take a 3 week holiday, I’m pretty bewildered and positively dancing to the airport.
If you hold out for an epic trip, you can get further afield to places you’ve only dreamt of exploring. If the plane tickets are expensive and you want to be on a budget, head to Asia or Indonesia where you can live on minimal dollars each day. Or if money is no obstacle as a result of months of saving, why not travel through a few countries and soak up the individual cultures you experience?
Synchronise travels with friends and family
It’s crazy how much life can get in the way. Sometimes it’s a bit scary how much it can delay plans to see old friends or family, but a top way to combat this is by killing two birds with one stone. If you haven’t seen a good friend in months and you just haven’t found the time to catch the 2 hour train to her city for a reunion, just hit her up with a message: “Let’s catch-up next month… in Prague?”
This is exactly what I did with an old university friend. I had gone an obscene amount of time without seeing her and we had thrown around the idea of going on a weekend break together… before we knew it, we were traipsing the streets of Prague catching up. It sure beat being in the same old pub in the UK. Synchronise your travels with good friends or family to make the most of your holiday – it’ll be insanely good for your soul to make time for them somewhere special.
Be a tourist in your own city
I for one am very guilty for forgetting how cool my city is. I can easily go about my usual business in Bristol with blinkers on, not noticing how alive the city is and the opportunities of fun that are around every corner! Fellow travelette, Phoebe, also works a 9 – 5 job and the way she handles this lifestyle is by flipping this schedule on its head. Phoebe looks at her 5pm – 9am window of time outside of work and sees what exciting things she can cram in.
Even if it’s just finding a new cafe, park, market or gym, shake things up a bit and try something different on those regular days. Have a micro-adventure throughout the week and enjoy the feeling of being a tourist in your own city – jump out of your routine as much as possible! It’ll put you out there, keep things interesting and shake the dust off any mundane routine that you fear.
Take control of things that you can change
I can continue writing empowering snippets to encourage you to take adventures at every opportunity outside of work, but sometimes it is simply just not that… simple. Money, responsibilities and time are the biggest obstacles and barriers to embracing travels. You may be saving for a house? You may have mouths to feed? You may have an incredibly demanding job which leaves you so exhausted that you can barely walk home? Ok, that last one doesn’t sound like a great way to live your life, but not everyone has their dream job… yet.
There are factors that can be changed and the barriers that can be overcome are usually from within. Laziness and complacency can come into play and it is oh-so easy to say, “I’ve got too many chores”, “I’m so exhausted”, “I need to catch-up on * insert fave TV show name here *’. You just need to make sure you are aware of when you genuinely need to just chill the F out on your time off, or when you might be missing a fantastic opportunity to take a trip.
With the above point in mind, another way to take control of what you can change is by saving. Turn away from those online shopping accounts and indulge in home-cooking instead of going out for dinner – do whatever it takes if you need to tuck away some dough to help you travel.
One thing that I’ve currently got on my brain is saving for driving lessons. Once I can get my hands on a sweet drivers license, I’ll be able to take off on road trips in the UK, rent a car in Europe and generally embrace a whole new level of freedom that I’ve never possessed before. It’s easy to feel claustrophobic staying in one city for an extended period of time, but road-trips are the perfect antidote.
Grab a break in between careers
Being in a career can be pretty exciting, especially if it’s something that you’re incredibly passionate about…. but if you’re in a job that you’re not enthusiastic about and it just isn’t gelling with you, then don’t rush too fast into your next job.
If it’s possible, take a break in between careers and spend that time getting away for some clarity. Travel is a perfect time for reflection and taking a step back to see the bigger picture of how your life is going. Switch off, breath and think about what you want.
A job can be just as important as seeing the world
Everyone’s priorities are different. A job means expanding your skills, banking experience and learning more about your capabilities. Travel does this as well, but unless you have a job that requires you to travel (oh hi dream job!) it won’t be adding to your bank account.
If you want to include more travels, then it can be done. Both things are important, as lets face it, in order to travel we need to make that money to make it happen – those flights aren’t going to pay for themselves! I simply can’t imagine my life without travel, but I can’t fund this without getting money in – I work to live and live to travel… but it doesn’t make it easy to watch instagrams and tweets ping up on my phone from others who seem to constantly be on the move with #nomadlife in action.
Remember your priorities and if you highly value travel then you need to remember to make it happen. Don’t let it pass you by as it does take effort and if you neglect it, you can suddenly wake up and realise that a year has passed and you haven’t ventured far. This can be scary and unfulfilling so make sure you try to make travel fit in around the constraints that an everyday job can bring.
Strike that balance between your work life and your adventurous spirit, and make it work for you no matter what your situation is.
What are your top tips on travelling around your day job?
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All photographs by Sophie Saint