FINDING TIME TO TRAVEL WHEN YOU HAVE A 9 TO 5 JOB

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My goal with this space is to provide practical posts to help you achieve your travel dreams in addition to sharing the itineraries and guides. One of the key things for me is learning to juggle travel with my full time job. I think social media gives this (false) illusion that you have to quit your day job to be able to travel the world . Afterall that is the story of several influencers in the travel space. While it is incredible they have that opportunity; I think the majority of us don’t have that option. If like me you have big travel dreams, I want to know you don’t have to wait till you can quit your job; you can make those dream a reality now.

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Like most people I only have a limited number of vacation days available to me and given my travel goals, there have been years when twenty-eight days was not sufficient (and early on in my career I have significantly less days to work with). Obviously, the best most logical option is to make use of your allocated vacation days. However, if your vacation days are limited or you, here are the ways I have managed to travel the world while working full time. The process of achieving this has morphed slightly from when I worked/lived in Dallas. I had a bit more flexibility in Dallas but I have more access to destination in the London.

1. Plan travel around the bank (public) holidays. This is one of the easiest ways to maximize your vacation days. In the states, plan travels around thanksgiving so instead of taking five days off work; I was only taking two days from work. Now that I live in the UK, I leverage holidays like Good Friday/Easter Monday or Christmas/boxing day. Last year my work rewarded us for a good year with an off day on 24th December; 25th and 26th December and 1st January are bank holidays in the UK. I was away from 22nd of December until 6th January (16 days) but only used up six days of allocated vacation days by leveraging weekends and holidays.

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2. Make the most of work trips. Another great way to travel (and save cost) is to maximize your work trip. Before using this option, make sure you understand your organization’s policies. One of my former employers had a policy that if you were working out of town over a period of several weeks; you can either fly back home on the weekends or fly to a destination that cost the same (or less) as flying back home. I never took advantage of this but in hindsight, this was a great opportunity to have travelled more. If you organization has a similar policy - lucky you and make sure to take advantage of it.

3. Book end work trips with personal trips. When traveling for work to a city I will like to explore; I book end the work trip with a personal trip. I used to have to attend a work training in Washington D.C. in June. The training session were usually on Monday and Tuesday. I will typically fly in on Saturday morning and spend the weekend exploring on my own account before the training kicked off. Another alternative, when traveling for a work engagement that runs all week; instead of flying back on the Friday afternoon; I wait to fly back on Sunday evening to give myself some personal time to explore the city. The cost incurred for those personal stays are always covered out of pocket. Keep track of your expenses separately to avoid commingling work expenses with personal expenses.

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4. Make the weekend count. Make a list of destinations within a two hour flight/drive from your home. You can usually plan a weekend trip to destinations that don’t require extensive travel time. The idea is you fly in Friday evening and fly back Sunday evening or the first flight Monday morning in time to be back at work Monday morning.

5. Bookend long trips with the weekend. Speaking of weekend, when planning an extended vacation, I always book end it with the weekend. Essentially fly out on Friday evening and return the following weekend - this means I have eight to nine days to travel as opposed to five days if I leave on a Sunday evening or Monday morning.

6. Utilize Flex. Many companies now have robust flex programs which takes many forms. I have co-workers who only work Monday to Thursday with Fridays off to run their business or stay home with their kids. This is an option I have considered for myself in the past but ultimately decided that the financial impact of that particular type of flex did not work for me. Another option I have employed with flex programs is to have a four day work week without having it impact my pay. Essentially, work longer days to hit my target hours. In the UK, full time work week is 35 hours. With this option, I would work those hours in four day instead of five days to be able to take Friday off without having to use up my allocated vacation days. I have not used this for purposes of travel but it has been useful for days when I have had back to back personal appointment.

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7. Work remotely and take advantage of time differences. Several years ago, I planned an epic four week travel around Europe. I only had about three weeks of time built up and I did not want to use unpaid leave. I discussed with my superiors at work and worked overseas for part of my four weeks away. There was six hour time difference so I spent the mornings till early evening exploring the city and worked in the evenings. I worked about four to six hours in the evening for part of my trip to make up the time. The key with this option is communication and letting your team know when you will be working if they need to reach you.

8. Use unpaid Leave. I have not used this option before but I know it is available to me if I want it. If you are in a financial position to take a few weeks off work unpaid and your organization offers this option; take advantage of it to achieve your travel dreams. Make sure to consider the impact of limited or no pay before deciding on this option.

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