Having managed to visit 12 countries in 12 months last year, one of the questions I always get asked is “do you ever do any work?”.
The answer is yes, I do have a day job and yes I do work (though with my upcoming move to Yorkshire, I’m set to start a new career very soon). So when I want to travel, I have to fit it around my work commitments. Because after all, without work I wouldn’t have the funds to travel.
Like many, I have a standard 9-5.30 Monday to Friday desk job, with about four weeks of holiday allowance to take over the year. Obviously having to work five days a week isn’t ideal when you want to be off exploring the world, but flights and hotels and train tickets and new bikinis don’t pay for themselves. So instead I see work as a way of saving cash to help finance my travel plans. Plus, if you enjoy what you do for a living – like I do – then it’s a lot easier.
So, how do you make the leap from wannabe-traveller to globetrotting explorer? Here are a few tips…
1. Be savvy with your annual leave.
If you’re an ambitious traveller working full-time with only a certain number of annual leave days, it’s totally understandable that you don’t want to waste them. Take a day off to wait in all day for a package that’s going to be delivered between 8am and 8pm? No thanks, leave it with my neighbour. Take a day off for the dentist? No way, I’ll grin and bear the toothache.
It’s important to be clever with your holiday allowance. For example:
- If you need to take time off for a medical appointment, see whether they do early morning or late evening slots, so you can still do a full days work.
- If you’re travelling midweek, try to book an evening or night flight if you can, so you don’t have to take a full day off.
- If you’re getting an early morning flight back, could you go straight to work from the airport?
Try to plan your travels around bank holidays and national holidays too, then you can go away for longer while saving a day of your holiday allowance for another trip. Sure, it’s usually a little more expensive around bank holidays, but weigh up the pros and cons (an extra day somewhere means more time to explore).
You don’t need to take weeks off to visit somewhere far flung either. I managed to explore a large part of India in just seven days, ticking off one of the top things on my bucket list: the Taj Mahal.
2. Spontaneous weekends away.
Don’t feel that you have to go somewhere for a whole week – a lot of European cities can be explored in just a few days. I also feel that for many of them more than a few days would be over kill (like Prague for example – you don’t need to spend more than two days there). It’s all about striking a balance.
If you live close enough, why not just pop somewhere for a weekend. Where I currently live in the UK I’m pretty lucky in that I have a choice of airports (as well as the Eurostar) available for spontaneous weekends away. Such as the random trip to Istanbul I took in October last year.
Also, my friend and I visited Barcelona in February earlier this year for a couple of days. We managed to tick off a lot of the must-see sights, including Gaudí’s Park Güell, and still had time to enjoy a couple of jugs of Sangria in the sun.
3. Go somewhere in a day.
What about going somewhere just for the day? Some of the girls from work (including Kellee from lifeadventurers.co.uk) and I popped over to Denmark for the day last year. It worked out cheaper to fly in and out of Copenhagen in the same day then it did to stay over night and fly back the following day.
We had a great time, and managed to see just about everything the European city has to offer, all in six hours. Kudos to Kellee for organising it all and finding the super cheap flights in the first place.
4. Can you work remotely?
Does your job offer you the flexibility to work remotely? If so, speak to your line manager to see if they’d object with you working somewhere other than your house. Previously I’ve arranged to work while on the train travelling to the airport, as well as while at the airport. This meant I didn’t need to take a full days holiday when I was jetting off for the week.
As long as I’ve got a reliable internet connection (and a quiet location to take calls should I need), there’s no reason why I can’t work from anywhere. Which is great because it means I don’t have to use my annual leave unnecessarily. It also means I can work remotely and enjoy views like this on my lunch hour:
5. Explore your home country.
Travel doesn’t have to mean packing your bags, grabbing your passport and jumping on a plane. There’s probably plenty to see and do in your own country (why else would so many tourists flock there every year?). So why not book a train ticket somewhere random and head off for a day or weekend trip.
Soon I’ll be living in Yorkshire, where there’ll be so much more to explore.
How do you make your travel dreams a reality? Have you chucked in your 9-5 for full-time global exploration, or are you a part-time traveller like me, grabbing every available opportunity for a break away? Drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.