How to Travel With a Full-Time Job

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. Americans are notorious for not traveling as much as many of their global counterparts, and it’s mostly because we have an abysmal amount of vacation time per year. But if you think you can’t travel because you work a nine-to-five and you’re strapped to 10 days off every 12 months, think again! Here are some great ways to travel with a full-time job:

1. Work remotely with a full-time job

Working remotely to help you travel more!
My workspace in my friend’s apartment in Seattle

I mean okay, obviously. While many more people are working from home now since the pandemic, I understand not everyone is so lucky. And 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 travel with a full-time job and work from some island villa in paradise. But it can be a temporary situation. So, 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.) Hey, you never know unless you ask!

Related: A Guide To My Favorite Travel Cards

2. Master the art of weekend travel with a full-time job

If working remotely is just not an option, then do what you can to make the most of your paid time off: maximize those weekends! Head to the airport or hit the road right after work on a Friday.  (Bonus if you can come in earlier and get off earlier.) Then return late night Sunday or early Monday morning. 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! This is the easiest, most time-frugal way to travel with a full-time job.

3. Use vacation time wisely

Studies show that American employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time. (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. So, 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.

Related: More tips and tricks for traveling smartly on a budget

4. Don’t ignore your own backyard

Explore your home town while having a full time job.

Vacation doesn’t HAVE to be in an exotic, far-off land. You can easily travel with a full-time job just by having adventures 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

Your own schedule is already tricky enough to manage; don’t rely on others’ vacation time to travel with a full-time job. 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!)

Related: 10 Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

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. The ultimate way to travel with a full-time job: take unpaid vacation days

Go explore with a full-time job!

If all else fails, consider taking unpaid vacation time. You only live once.

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