I’ve been thinking about writing this post for awhile. I think that this topic is definitely a struggle for a lot of people who have a strong desire to travel and see the world – HOW THE HECK DO YOU MANAGE?!
My answer: I have no idea.
I see the blogs, the Instagram accounts of people who give off the impression that they don’t have much else going on outside of travel. The people who always seem to be on the go, or at least are always planning to go somewhere.
That is definitely not me. I have a full-time job and a raging case of wanderlust, and i do my best to make them both work. I offer up a bit of advice, so that other people can do the same:
1. Be selective in your job choice
Having a job that is accommodating and understanding of work/life balance is extremely important. I know that we all can’t necessarily afford to be super picky when it comes to working, but you have every right to ask these sorts of questions in a job interview so that you at least know what you’ll be in for in the long run. Here are some questions that i always ask in job interviews:
- Can you describe the company culture?
- Can you describe the work/life balance?
- How often are employees expected to work after-hours?
- How many days of PTO are there? (it is possible to negotiate more days. Always worth a shot)
- If there is an unlimited vacation policy, is it actually unlimited? Studies show that employees tend to take less time off in this situation, so what are the expectations of this particular company?
- Is there already a plan of action in place for coverage when an employee is on vacation? If not, are you open to implementing one?
These are just a few that i at least try to cover, but additional topics of conversation may stem from these. It’s important to know what you’ll be in for from the start, and remember, negotiate!
2. Get your priorities in order
This may seem fairly obvious, but if traveling is not a priority for you, then you will have a hard time making it happen. Do you really need to spend that much on a manicure? Do you really need to buy that designer handbag? Do you really need to buy your lunch everyday? The list could go on and on. If you answered yes to any of the above, you may have some re-prioritizing to do!
I’m able to afford traveling because i have given up a lot of other things. Lets face it – traveling adds up! Once i realized my passion for it, i acted rather quickly:
- I shop a lot less often and when i do, i try to buy things that are on SALE.
- I cook a LOT more. Before, i ate out all the time and bought $20 salads for lunch everyday. $20/day = $100/week = $400/month! That’s a roundtrip ticket to Iceland right there. I would much rather take a trip to Iceland than pay $20 for a salad that i could make myself.
- I go out less on weekends. Not that i was ever that much of a social butterfly, but now, i would much rather stay in and watch Netflix with homemade food on a Friday night than go blow $100 on drinks and food.
At the end of the day, you will notice that you are saving a lot more disposable income when you make changes like this. This disposable income can go straight into your travel savings!
3. Create a budget to yourself – and STICK TO IT
Speaking of savings, you should absolutely set daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly budgets for yourself. If you commit to only spending a certain amount on clothing, food, etc. you will be much more likely to be able to save more in the long run!
4. Be smart about your vacation time
If you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers unlimited PTO, more power to you. But if you don’t have unlimited vacation days off, plan and be smart about when to take trips. Here are a few things that i consider when planning a trip:
- Are there any holidays coming up that i can plan this trip around? If so, i will plan to travel around those dates, so that i can use less of my PTO. I’m definitely guilty of being MIA during the holiday season because i’m off in another country taking advantage of those days off that we all get for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Again, priorities)
- Do i really need to take a week off, or can i make this into one long weekend? Sometimes, 3-4 days off is all you need to have a great vacation. Living on the West Coast, i like to take long weekends in Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Portland, San Diego, etc.
- Another option, If your company offers 20+ days of vacation time, is to take two International trips in one year. You can avoid taking three day weekends here and there, or the random Wednesday off, and group days together into longer trips.
These are just the things that i’ve learned since entering the world of full-time work after college. Of course, someday i would love to not have to balance the two, but until then, i make things work.
How do you manage to travel while working full time?