You see so many stories of incredible people handing in their notice, packing up their bags and heading out for an indefinite period to explore the world. Endless countries ticked off the bucket list, an opportunity to forget about long-term plans and the chance to see many countries in such a short space of time.
The reality is that the above takes more than just courage to take the leap. It also requires savings you’re willing to invest (and not see back) on the travel costs, an ability to live out of a back pack for an extended period of time, and the knowledge that unless you’re on a sabbatical, if you ever want to come home you need to start the process of job hunting, accommodation sorting and logistics all over again.
The good news is that this doesn’t mean you have to give up on the dream of regular travel if you can’t or don’t want to give up work. It’s actually incredibly feasible if this is a big priority for you.
Here are my top tips for balancing work and travel, to keep those wanderlust dreams alive whilst rocking a traditional 9-5.
Be flexible with travel dates
If you currently don’t have children, or a role that mandates specific holidays are taken (such as the wonderful teachers among us) then make the most of your calendar freedom and travel when the flights are cheaper and the destinations are quieter.
Use a travel comparison site such as SkyScanner to locate the best prices for your next trip and fly on these days where possible. Cost savings like these mean you can then afford more trips throughout the year.
Prague in Winter is incredible, the cold and snow makes the city feel magical and mystical. Traditional expensive ski resorts become affordable hiking paradises in the summer. It’s all about the dates and the flexibility when it comes to travelling more with a job.
On this, also be flexible with your destination
Unless you have somewhere your heart is set on visiting, try and be flexible with your next destination. We have a huge list of everywhere we hope to see, but it’s not constrained by time. The big Weir bucket list!
We again use travel comparison sites such as SkyScanner to search from flights from our closest airports to ‘everywhere’ and then find somewhere with a great deal on from our big wish list of destinations.
Obviously this isn’t always achievable as you may have a deep craving for pasta and wine in Tuscany that a trip to Poland just won’t quench, but where you can be flexible, try.
Enjoy your work
This may seem like a strange tip, but I really do think it’s important to have a good work life balance and a job you genuinely enjoy doing for this to work well.
If you are forever just looking forward to your next office break, have no enthusiasm for what you are going back to or don’t feel excited or stretched then you may begin to resent your time spent not travelling.
A work life balance is just about liking what you do in work, as well as making sure you get enough time away from it to indulge in your passions and interests.
For me, this kind of approach of working hard and travelling harder works because I put the same amount of energy into both aspects. I think it’s a super key element many people miss when trying to strike up this kind of balance with travelling vs. a full-time backpacking year.
Maximise those bank holidays
Every year, I block out the public holidays where I am living and try and book some extra dates off around these to maximise my vacation time. A week away can easily just require two days leave if you time it right.
Yes prices may be a little inflated, but it’s up to you to weigh up the benefits of longer travel vs. the cost. Plus, you don’t need to fly for these trips. Do the planet a favour and hop on a train to the nearest country, or a short ferry or cruise overseas. Sometimes the best places to discover are on our doorstep.
Long weekends are golden
Again, similar to the above, you can see some incredible cities in just three days. Take a Thursday night flight out, and Sunday night flight back and you have easily squeezed in an exciting long weekend without much stress or missed work!
We love our long weekend escapes. Pack light, pick out a few top sights to see and indulge in some good food and new cultures for three days.
Great weekend city breaks include Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Rome, Prague, Krakow, Berlin, Budapest, Vienna or Edinburgh.
Ignore the comments
One of the strangest things about this kind of lifestyle has to be the frequent comments and observations from others it attracts about how ‘you are always on holiday’ or ‘they’re shocked you ever manage to get any work done’.
The reality is you get just as much vacation as your peers. You are just utilising it in a way that works for you and meets your travel goals. If you choose to spend your weekends in Naples enjoying a pizza rather than a weekend at home it doesn’t matter. You will both be back in the office on Monday.
Do what works for you, and don’t worry about what others think of it.
Live with less to travel more
People quite often comment on how we manage to afford all the travel we do. Sometimes out of intrigued, sometimes I think a little suspicious, and sometimes perhaps not with the best intentions.
Our method is simple. Prioritize what matters to you and invest both your time and money here.
For us, travel matters. As a result, we rarely buy new clothes, we currently are car-free, we live below our means and we don’t tend to buy ‘nice-to-haves’ like decorative items, makeup trends or the latest iPhones / other technology. It’s our choice, and definitely isn’t a choice we think is better than others or right for everyone. But it’s right for us.
By living like this we have freed up money to go away often and make many memories in different places. It’s perfectly possible to have a mix of both, with a few trips a year as well, but our reality of upwards of ten vacations a year wouldn’t be possible without this choice we’ve made.
Work on the go
If you have a job that allows this, or a remote career, then you really have unlocked the next level when it comes to working and travelling. Office hours by day, and exploring at night and weekends. However this isn’t possible for everyone – though definitely something we can all work towards!
These tips all sound obvious, but they all require flexibility and discipline to turn your bi-annual vacation into a true blend of constant work and travel. What are your top tips when it comes to working full time and travelling?