Having a full-time job is great. You get benefits, stability, a paycheck, and vacation time. Some people are fortunate enough to get a lot of paid vacation, while others get the bare minimum. Either way, you’re here because you love to travel and want to maximize your time off with a full-time job. And I respect that.
There are several ways to travel with a full-time job and maximize your vacation time. Just because you’re only allowed 10+ days of vacation, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that.
Two questions people repeatedly asked me when I was working and traveling were, “do you ever work?” and “how do you travel so much?” I traveled to 19 countries while I was working a full-time job for 6 years. One year, I even traveled to 7 countries on 4 separate international trips, with a total of ~9 weeks of time off. So how did I do it so you replicate it? Well, here are some tips on how you can…
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Get an alternative work schedule.
Check if your company provides an alternative work schedule or if they would be willing to offer you one. For example, I worked a 9/80 schedule, which means I worked eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day with a 3-day weekend every other week. Although I had a 3-day weekend and longer workdays, I was still working a total of 40 hours for a 2-week period.
A popular work schedule that some employers offer is a 4/10 work schedule. A 4/10 work schedule is when you work 10-hour shifts for 4 days and have a 3-day weekend every single week. This schedule still allows you to work 40 hours per week as well.
Having some sort of alternative work schedule is a great way to travel with a long weekend or pairing it with holidays to maximize your time off.
Take advantage of holidays.
Holidays are a great way to go on vacation. You already have the time off and if you pair your vacation days with a holiday, you are using less time off. You already have the holiday day off so why not go on a weekend trip somewhere? If you have an alternative work schedule, you can pair the 3-day weekend with a holiday and only have to take 1-3 days off of work and be gone for a week in another country. Sounds amazing, right?
Pro tip: when choosing which day you want off with your alternative work schedule, look at your paid holidays. If a lot of the paid holidays land on a certain day, use that day as your day off. When your day off lands on a holiday, you get an additional day off. For example, if you have a lot of paid holidays that land on a Monday and you choose your day off to be a Monday, then you would get Monday and Tuesday off and now have a 4-day weekend. Some companies even let you use that holiday as a paid day off for future use.
See what I did there? Being strategic with your days off can add more vacation time to your life. By doing this, I got an extra ~5 paid days off a year! 5 days might not sound like a lot, but that’s an extra entire week that you could spend in another country.
Get a temporary/contract job.
Having a temporary job or a contract job is a great way to travel more. Depending on your employer and how lenient they are, you can essentially take off as much off as you want since you’re not an employee and not getting paid time off.
An important lesson I learned from my previous boss is, “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” So ask! Ask your boss if you can take the time off. The worst thing your boss is going to say is no. It’s definitely worth asking.
Especially with the pandemic happening, a lot of employees were able to work remotely. See if you can work remotely and travel the world at the same time. Make sure that you ask your employers if you have to work the same hours while working remotely. This is important to know because you will have to work in a similar time zone or be willing to work odd hours.
Although this is an undesirable option, it is an option to do. Check with your company’s policies and see if you’re able to get compensatory time (comp time) instead of overtime pay. If you’re able to get comp time, make sure it is the same amount that you would be getting if you were getting overtime pay. For example, some companies will give you time and a half for pay, but will only give you an exact time for comp time. You don’t want that. You also want time and a half for your overtime comp time.
Remember what you want out of life. I had no vacation time left, but I really wanted to go to Spain. So instead of throwing in the towel and skipping out on Spain, I worked a lot of overtime. To me, it was worth it because traveling was my priority. So what is your priority? I’m assuming it’s travel since you’re here. Think about the big picture and work towards that.
Leave without pay.
If you’re financially secure, consider taking leave without pay. Employers are more likely to say yes to this because they don’t have to pay you for being gone. Leave without pay is a great way to explore the world. You still have your job and get to go on vacation.
Ask for a sabbatical.
A lot of companies offer sabbaticals. Some sabbaticals are paid, but most are unpaid. This is a great option if you want to keep your job, but travel for an extended period of time. Check your company’s sabbatical policy and inquire about it. It’s worth asking and a great way to travel the world.
When getting a new job, promotion, yearly bonus, etc. – negotiate! Negotiate for more time off. Especially if you’re starting a new job somewhere, negotiate for more vacation before you accept the offer. When the company sees you’re an asset and is recognizing your efforts, it’s a perfect time to take advantage of that and ask for more paid time off.
You can also negotiate unpaid time off. If you’re willing to accept that, it’s a great option to still travel with a full-time job. You’re still taking advantage of their praise while benefiting from their recognition of how great of an employee you are.
Join a volunteer program.
Some companies offer volunteer programs where they can take paid time off to volunteer abroad. This is a great way to give back to the communities and experience another country. Look into your company’s policies and see if they offer volunteer programs.
Ask for an office relocation.
If your company has offices in different locations, ask if you can relocate to another office. This will be a great way to explore a new destination and travel to nearby cities. Bonus points: relocate to an office in another country. It’s a great way to explore surrounding countries or new cities in your new location.
Extend your time on work trips.
If you have a job that sends you on work trips, ask if you can stay longer and work remotely or extend your work trip with some vacation time. You’re already in a different location and won’t need to travel somewhere. It’s a great way to explore the location you’re currently in while not needing to take too much time off.
Actually go on vacation.
There are two types of people in this world: people who take advantage of their vacation and always run out of time off and people who rarely use their vacation. Which type are you?
I used to work with people who never used their vacation time. They always had it roll over to the following year and accrued so much vacation. It always broke my heart how much time they had off, but didn’t utilize.
Make sure to actually go on vacation! Even if it’s for a long weekend somewhere, a nearby city, or a short trip, make sure you use your time wisely and travel somewhere. Traveling is so healing, fuels your soul, and helps you recharge. It’s so important to do, so don’t neglect it.
If all else fails, quit.
Spoiler alert: life is not meant to be working your life away. If you’re in a toxic work environment, stressed, not passionate about your job, or you just want to travel more and don’t want to be limited to your vacation time, then quit. My last job only gave me 10 days of vacation. To me, that wasn’t enough and I had more of the world I wanted to see. I wasn’t going to put my dreams on hold and settle for a job. And you shouldn’t either!
Work will always be there. Time won’t.
If you’ve ever been curious about quitting your job to travel the world and want to learn how, then I highly encourage you to join my waitlist. You will learn everything you need to know to break free from the 9-5 to travel the world and how you can make this a reality for yourself.
Which option are you going to try so you can travel the world with a full-time job? I would love to hear which tactic you’re willing to try!