As important as travel is, it’s a difficult endeavor for some people – and not just because they think they can’t afford it. (That’s a whole new topic!) The other big reason for not traveling is a perceived lack of time. But if you think you can’t travel because you work a nine-to-five and you’re strapped to the abysmal 2-week-per-year American vacation time…think again. Here are some great ways to work a full-time job and still see the world:
1. Work remotely
Well, duh. If everyone had the opportunity (and wanted) to do this, they would, right? Obviously, it’s not a reality for everyone to be able to work and travel at the same time, but it can be a temporary situation. Consider asking your boss if you can work for a period of time out of the office. If you’re a good employee, your work environment allows it, and your boss is awesome, it just might be your ticket to a tropical island getaway – without having to use up precious vacation days. Just be sure you’re disciplined enough to get a day’s work done while sipping Mai Tais by the pool – then you can explore in the evening (or vice versa.)
2. Master the art of weekend travel
If working remotely is just not an option, then do what you can to make the most of your paid time off. Head to the airport or hit the road right after work on Friday (bonus if you can come in earlier and get off earlier), then return late night Sunday or early morning Monday. You won’t have time to fly to a far-off country in this amount of time, but you can definitely see a new city!
3. Use vacation time wisely
Studies show that American employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation (say what?!) and about 40% of Americans don’t even use their vacation time. People. Come on. Not only should you be USING this time off (it’s yours, after all), you should use it wisely. Bookend those holidays and weekends – they’re already days off. Take a couple vacation days around a holiday weekend and voila, you could have a 5-day vacation that only uses 2 PTO days.
4. Don’t ignore your own backyard
Vacation doesn’t HAVE to be in an exotic, far-off land. You can have just as memorable an adventure in a nearby town you’ve never explored before – or even in your own city! Don’t burn yourself out (or waste precious time) on a weekend getaway that uses up half the time just getting there. Pick a place just a few hours’ travel away for a weekend trip, and save the farther places for longer vacations. The point is to get out and see new places. (San Diegans, check out my favorite weekend getaways!)
5. Don’t rely on others to take your vacation
Your own schedule is already tricky enough to manage; don’t rely on others’ vacation time to make it happen. If you are able to sync up schedules and itineraries with someone else, great – but don’t make your trip contingent on it. Don’t be afraid to go alone if it comes to that or staying home. (Ladies, this means you too! Read my safety tips for the solo female traveler.)
6. Negotiate your benefits package
If you get the opportunity to negotiate the terms of your benefits package at work, consider asking for PTO instead of money. Do the math, and weigh a small percent salary increase against a couple extra days of paid vacation – which would you rather have? Similarly, when starting a new job, negotiate for the extra time off in exchange for declining other employer-paid benefits you might not find as beneficial. You’ve got nothing to lose — the worst they can say is no.
7. Take unpaid vacation days
If all else fails, consider taking unpaid vacation time. You only live once.