Work full-time? That doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and see the world! Sure, it can feel tough to fit trips in when you’re working Monday to Friday each week, but with some motivation and planning it’s possible to maximise your time off in a way that you’ll be able visit several new destinations every year.
Take it from someone who will have made at least six trips in 2015 while holding down a full-time job – it really can be done! To help you on your way I’ve compiled a list of my 7 top tips on how to make the time to travel.
Tip 1 – Make travel a priority
It’s oh so easy to let everyday life get in the way of travelling, but if you really want to explore new places then you have to make travel a priority and accept that other things will have to give, be that time or money.
Sacrifices may need to be made, but if you’re willing to stop having that Friday night takeaway it won’t be long before you’ll have enough for a cheap flight to Europe – what would you like more?
My way of prioritising travel is to have a dedicated bank account. At the start of each month a direct debit whizzes over a set amount into my ‘travel’ account and at the end of the month if I have any spare cash left I top it up. Over the year this builds up, giving me a good chunk of funds to pay for trips.
Tip 2 – Use your weekends wisely
We often forget how much you can fit into weekend, so keep in mind that they’re perfect for local adventures or short-haul breaks. Basically, they provide 52 travel opportunities every year!
Weekend getaways can be great for blowing the cobwebs away, whether you visit the next county over, a new city or even hop on a short plane flight into Europe. You can get home on Friday evening, pick up your bags and head straight to the airport, spend 36 hours exploring somewhere new and be back home in your bed late Sunday night refreshed and ready for the week ahead.
I’m a planner and often book my weekend trips far in advance, but if you get a sudden case of wanderlust there;s nothing stopping you booking a last minute flight or packing up the car for a road trip – why not be spontaneous?
Tip – Make the most of what’s nearby
We often ignore the places close to home, thinking that ‘real’ travel must involve a long car/train/plane journey. Scrap that idea and instead use your free time to explore the local area, as there’ll be so much you haven’t seen or have just taken for granted.
For me, living in Wiltshire, this can mean a visit to Stonehenge: a place people travel from all over the world to see, going for a drive into the Cotswolds or even putting on my walking boots and simply exploring my village. Since being told by my doctor to take daily walks I’ve discovered so many wonderful hidden paths just minutes from my house that take me out into the countryside, and I’m loving discovering the beauty that’s on my doorstep.
So, why not go check out your local museum, visit a town you’ve only ever driven through or find out what stately homes you live by and explore!
Tip – Take advantage of public holidays
In the UK we’re spoilt with our Bank Holidays, and although travel can be a bit more expensive at these times, these long weekends do offer great travel opportunities.
To make things cheaper, you can use your home as a base and stay local, but if you’d like to go further afield, by tagging on a day’s holiday before and/or after, you can use the time for a longer break and use up less of your annual leave.
Tip – Incorporate travel into other areas of your life
There are often simple ways to incorporate further travel into other activities in your life. For example, if your job regularly involves business trips, then see if it’s possible to extend your stay to include time for you to explore the area a bit more. Perhaps keep your eyes peeled for a conference that would be good for your career in a location you’ve always wanted to visit.
Even if you study the opportunities are still there – why not find out if your university or college offers student exchange programmes or look for a work placement abroad?
Then there are hobbies – look out for events around the things you love and make a trip out of them. I’m a real gaming and sci-fi geek, so I’ve visited LA and Paris to attend Blizzcon and one day I’d love to head back over to the US in order to go to San Diego Comic Con.
Tip #6 – Negotiate more time off
If your’e going for a new job or been offered a promotion, then factor in holiday when discussing your package and negotiate your holiday allowance as well as your wages.
If you’re already in a role and running out of holiday allowance don’t forget you’ve got the option to request unpaid leave. Some workplaces also offer the opportunity to buy yourself an extra week or two of annual leave, spreading the cost of the missed days over the entire leave year. Oh, and if for some crazy reason you’ve got through 12 months without using it all up, be sure to see if you can roll the days left over to the following year.
Finally, if you’re interested in taking a longer trip and need extended leave then the key is highlighting that your time away will benefit the business. Pitch it to your boss as a development opportunity, a chance to gain new skills or attend a conference and time your travels around when work’s at its quietest.
Tip 7 – Travel smarter
I understand that travel can be expensive and that makes it tougher to get away, but if you play it smart you can keep costs down and make trips a more viable option. I’ll go into travelling smarter in more detail in the future, but in essence it’s thinking about ways to make your money go further.
One example is to travel to the most popular destinations off-season or in shoulder season. Or, if you do have to go during peak season then choose a lesser-known destination that offers the same kinds of experiences but at a cheaper price, oh and it’ll be more untouched by tourists!
Also think about places that have lost popularity – I’m not recommending you head off into conflict zones, but rather you consider areas affected by natural disasters in recent years, as these are the places that could really benefit from your stay.
And why not look for co-located destinations like Bath and Bristol? These two great cities are just a stone’s throw apart, saving you travelling time and costs.
Finally, consider visiting places that haven’t been on your travel radar before. A few years ago Justin and I headed to Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, in February for three nights in a deluxe double room (with jacuzzi!) and this, including return flights, costs us under £300 in total.
We felt like the only tourists there (and at times we literally were, with staff turning on the lights of the museum ahead of us) and it was wonderful having the city’s sights all to ourselves. So, keep open minded as to where you travel and see where the cheap flights will take you. I promise you you’ll make some special memories wherever you end up!
How to fit travel around your job
So that’s my top tips – do you have any of your own advice on how to make travel a bigger part of your life while you’re working full-time? I-I’d love to hear your thoughts, so let me know in the comments below!