I’ve been working full time since I was 18-years-old… Something I know a lot of people can relate to… I’ve always wanted to know how to travel more without quitting my job while I grow my skills to eventually become a digital nomad. I’d love to do this blog full time someday, but that’s a way down the road. So for now I travel while maintaining a full-time 9-5 job, because I’m not willing to risk financial stability to travel more.
Being a globe trotter is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl. I was never sure what I wanted to be when I grew up and whenever anyone would ask, I’d say, “Anything that would let me travel.” That’s something I’m still saying. I’ve made several strides in the last few years to ensure my lifestyle and job would allow for this, after putting my dreams on hold for years because I didn’t listen to my own gut in regards to what I truly wanted.
All that said, frequent travel with a full time job that is strict about vacation time is 100% possible! After years of putting my dreams of travel aside, I’ve finally figured out how to travel more while still maintaining a full-time job that pays the bills. I’d love to help you do the same!
I’ve created a massive list of tips, tricks and lifestyle changes to create a life that allows you to explore this big, beautiful planet while also creating financial stability, rather than giving it up. So if you find yourself relating even just a little bit to the previous few paragraphs, this post is for you.
My first and very most precious tip for anyone who wants to travel more…
Step away from social media and be realistic.
In this digital age, we’re constantly seeing beautiful pictures of everyone else’s lives. They look so glamorous and on the surface, it seems like everyone is leading this great, globetrotting lives. You may be comparing yourself to them and thinking “What the fuck am I doing wrong!?”
It’s important to realize that on social media, we’re only presenting our best selves and the highlights of our lives. You’re only seeing those beautiful pictures of Cinque Terre and Iceland because no one is posting pictures of them at their desk 8 hours a day. And if they are, you would unfollow them… Rightfully so.
SIDE NOTE: There are absolutely people out there posting their work commutes and desks on social media… You need to stop. Truly. NO ONE wants Snapchat notifications only to open it and see 10 seconds of your feet on the sidewalk as you walk to work, you maniac!
So firstly, it’s crucial to stop comparing yourself to others on social media. Just focus on what works for your life, needs and desires.
Remember that nobody’s life is perfect. Be grateful for what you have and remember the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the best version of YOU.
Get a better job with benefits and more vacation days.
This one may seem totally obvious, but I’m sure there are readers out there in situations similar to the one I was in… A decent paying job but no (or very little) vacation time.
For those outside the United States reading–Yes, you read that right! In America, you are guaranteed ZERO vacation days as a full time employee and it is 100% up to your company’s discretion.
So while I loved the job I had that provided no vacation time, unfortunately my work passion didn’t line up with my life’s passion. So I had to leave and get something with better benefits. This is an important step to take if you haven’t done so already.
As of now, I have a job that provides 80 hours of PTO for vacation that is accrued and 48 hours of sick leave. Meaning I don’t have to dig in to sick days to take a vacation.
While 2 weeks vacation is appalling to those living in other countries, (I’m lookin’ at you, Germany!) in America, it’s pretty standard for a mid-level employee and I’m happy to have it. (Hey, it’s better than nothing!). So it’s important to focus on your skill set, spruce up your resume and move up and on.
Once you’ve landed the job with suitable vacation days, you then need to figure out how to utilize them best.
Take advantage of those federal holidays!
This is a great way to get in a short getaway, possibly without digging in to your PTO at all!
Here are the days most employers are closed and provide a paid day off for their employees;
- New Years Day (January)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January)
- Presidents’ Day (February)
- Memorial Day (May)
- Independence Day (July)
- Labor Day (September)
- Columbus Day (October) … [Gross, I know. He was the ACTUAL WORST. Thankfully, many American cities are transitioning to observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead and still giving employees the day off].
- Veterans Day (November)
- Thanksgiving and the day after (November)
- Christmas Day (December)
Depending on your employers policies, there may be a few of these you don’t get, or maybe you get a few more. YAY!
Either way, holidays provide an excellent opportunity to snag a few extra days off or even to sneak away for a long weekend. Maybe you add on the day after Presidents’ Day to fly off for 3 days like I’ll be doing when I visit New Orleans.
You can also piggy-back on the holiday to make the time off easier on your employer and coworkers.
For example, I’ll be flying to Croatia with a friend the night before Independence Day, and staying through that week and the next. Holiday weeks are usually slower and your employer is probably going to be more amenable to give you time off.
Another great example: My birthday is the week after Thanksgiving. So I fly out to my new Central American location the day before Thanksgiving and spend the following week in my destination. This allows me to only take 5 days out of my PTO, rather than 7, if I hadn’t utilized the holiday. You can totally do this too, even if it isn’t your birthday!
Track flights like crazy.
I usually have at least a dozen destinations I’m watching for certain dates. Meaning I have dozens and dozens of trackers constantly going.
Thankfully, you don’t have to use a million apps or websites to stay on top of flight prices. Each blogger has their own preferred method of tracking flights and mine is Skyscanner and Google Flights.
Once in a while though, I will check out Kiwi and see a deal that wasn’t on the other 2 platforms. It’s not something you need be doing constantly, but sometimes you’ll score a great deal you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Want to know what honestly kept me from traveling more for many years… Other than my poor benefits and lack of time off?
My shopping addiction.
I worked in fashion for many years and I spent all my expendable income on clothing, shoes and accessories.
What finally broke that cycle was getting out of retail. I got some separation from my addiction and took my first international trip. Once I took that trip, all my priorities changed. I realized memories and the human connection I gained through travel were MUCH more valuable than having the trendiest wardrobe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fashionista. I love looking good and I’m genuinely passionate about fashion and clothing but now I think about it differently. I budget my money wisely and prioritize airfare over jewelry and shoes.
So ask yourself, “What am I prioritizing over travel?”
Is it shopping? What about going out for dinner and drinks? Do you have frivolous subscriptions that you could be cutting out? That was a big one for me!
SIDE NOTE: Here are all the subscriptions I cancelled after taking my first trip to Belize:
- Blue Apron
- Netflix (Use my roommates now)
- PopSugar Must Have
The only subscriptions I ended up missing were Winc (a wine subscription box), Hulu and Blue Apron. I did end up getting BA again–I’m a foodie who loves to cook! And I renewed Hulu because I love me some Shark Tank!
Perhaps this seems excessive to you, and it absolutely was excessive but it’s very easy to accrue this many subscriptions when they’re auto-renewed. They’re so easy to forget about until they show up on your doorstep! So go through your bank statement, review recurring charges and see what you can eliminate. You’d be amazed how much you can find!
As I mentioned earlier, I freely admit I have a shopping problem. It’s safe to say that at one point in my life, it was an addiction. Shopping was something I used to cope with my panic and sadness. During my manic cycles, I could easily spend $1,000 in one shopping trip. Yes, you read that correctly. My shopping addiction has now been replaced with a travel one and I’m all the better for it.
While you may not have a shopping—or any other—addiction (awesome!), there are probably things you spend your money on frivolously that could hinder you from traveling more. Maybe you eat out for lunch everyday, or perhaps you Uber when public transit is easily accessible. Temptations like this strike quickly and they can add up quick.
So how do I fight the urge to splurge? Pinterest and Instagram.
This may seem counterintuitive to my first point… But if you use it smartly, social media can be an excellent tool! It can keep you inspired and stop you from spending your money in ways you shouldn’t be.
Just hop on your favorite social media platform and image search for your next dream destination.
When I’m tempted to purchase the 5 dresses I have in my ‘Save for Later’ on Amazon, I search for #croatia on Instagram. It’s an excellent way to remind myself of which I want more. Those 5 dresses, while inexpensive, add up to about $150 which could be 2 nights accommodation in an AirBNB on Vis Island!
Social media is a double edged sword. Be smart and don’t get bogged down in the shit (which there is a lot of). Use it as a tool to keep your eyes on the ultimate goal; TO TRAVEL MORE.
Check out my Pinterest and gather some inspiration of your own!
If you don’t use social media, create a collage in your room or save dreamy images on your phone.
Live within your means.
Let’s be honest, travel ain’t cheap! It can be achieved with a shoestring budget, sure! But it is definitely NOT CHEAP.
Did you know, according to the USA Today, “The average American household carries $137,063 in debt… Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039…”
If you’re thinking something doesn’t add up, you’re right. So do your best to make sure you aren’t drowning in debt. It’s irresponsible to be spending oodles of money on airfare, hotels and tours when you’re past due on your credit cards or student loans.
Being financially sound is extremely important when you’re wanting to do something like traveling. And if you can become debt-free — Like myself! *HUMBLE BRAG!* — all the better! This will set you up for success to be able to enjoy many more trips in the future. It doesn’t make sense to have a goal of traveling more if you’re only doing it in the here and now and not setting yourself up to be able to do it more frequently in the future.
Check out The Balance’s article with a simple list to ensure you’re living within your means.
Another great article from HerMoney.com covers ‘8 Warning Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means.’
Find or create passive income if you haven’t already.
Having passive income is important for any adult, especially those who want to travel more or supplement any hobby/passion.
So what is a passive income?
Passive income is income resulting from cash flow received on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it. –Wikipedia
Basically, it’s something that makes you money in your sleep.
Depending on your skill set and how much money you have to invest, here are a few great blog posts discussing dozens of ways to create passive income…
- 31 Passive Income Ideas
- 15 Passive Income Ideas to Make Money While You Sleep
- 7 Legit Passive Income Ideas to Make $5k a Month
Personally, as of now, I have investments, reselling clothes online, and this blog!
Your passive income doesn’t need to be hugely substantial or your sole income, even just giving you some extra dough is great! Every dollar is supplemental to your travel budget and the experiences you’ll have while abroad.
Man, I love AirBNB. I know it’s got plenty of nay-sayers and horror stories but I’ve had such a wonderful experience with it. I think the main reason is because I’m an obsessive review-reader (and leaver).
ALWAYS READ THE REVIEWS… And on the flip side of that, always leave a review if your experience was extraordinary in a good or bad way. This applies to everything, not just AirBNB.
AirBNB is a great tool for booking budget accommodation if hostels or hotels aren’t available for whatever reason. They’re also great if you prefer living like a local and having a place to yourself! Even if you’re staying in the house while the host is there, they can be really helpful at giving you all the best local tips!
Additionally, consider renting your place while traveling! This circles back to passive income and is a great way to travel more while earning some cash. If AirBNB doesn’t float your boat, consider getting a house sitter via housesitter.com, Rover (if you have a dog), House Sitters America or Mind My House… Which is free to home owners versus Trusted House Sitters which has a membership fee of over $100. I have personally used Rover for dog sitting and would recommend it.
Sell your car.
If you’re able to! If you live in a rural area with no public transit, selling your car would be unreasonable. However, if you live in a metropolitan area like myself, getting by without a car is very doable. I sold my car before I moved to DC for extra funds and haven’t looked back. The money I save on gas, insurance and property tax is money I put towards airfare and other travel expenses. It also reduces my stress. Driving in a city drives me nuts.
Move to a more affordable area.
Years ago, I lived in the city limits of Washington, DC and was paying through the nose for it. I was miserable and had no expendable income for things that brought me joy like traveling.
After a while I decided I would rather travel more and have a longer commute. I moved to a house just outside of DC with roommates, cutting my rent IN HALF and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I will never go back to paying more for rent if I can avoid it. *KNOCK ON WOOD*
So ask yourself: Is living in the coolest neighborhood worth the price tag? Or would you rather spend that money on a trip to Morocco or Costa Rica?
Negotiate a raise with more PTO.
Make sure you don’t forget to kick ass at your job while you’re there so when your annual review rolls around you have negotiating power. If your company is financially able to give you a salary raise as well, all the better! But I know for a lot of people with lower income jobs, or smaller companies, that may not be the case. So open up the discussion to your employers to see if they’re willing to give your more PTO instead! If you’re making a salary of $50,000, a raise of 1-3% would equal to 2.5-7.5 more days PTO!
Negotiate leave without pay.
If your company is unwilling to give you a raise or more PTO (first of all, I highly suggest looking for another company), see if they’re willing to negotiate LWOP (leave without pay). So while you may still only have 2 weeks of vacation time that will be paid, you’ll be able to take 3 weeks total and only 1 will be unpaid. It’s not ideal but a helluva lot better than 3 weeks UNPAID!
Consider other destinations with the ‘everywhere’ option
So you have your heart set on spending your week vacation in Ecuador. You’ve been watching flights for weeks, maybe months and flight prices just seem to be only rising. Perhaps open your options and explore using Skyscanner’s ‘everwhere’ option.
Simply set your dates and Skyscanner will show a descending list of destination from lowest to highest fare.
Remember, you can always take that trip to Ecuador another time. Maybe the universe is pushing you towards taking a trip to the Bahamas instead. If airfare to ‘X’ is $300 and airfare to ‘Y’ is $800, that’s a huge chunk of change to consider!
Make yourself accountable.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’re familiar with this concept. Telling others of your goals, plans and ambitions is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Tell your coworkers or girlfriends of your upcoming trip you’re hoping to go on.
I did this with my 2019 Travel Goals post and made myself accountable to the World Wide Web. So shout it from the rooftops and get that fire in your belly!
Travel more on your own! Don’t wait for someone to join you.
I’m a human adult who transplanted across the country. If you’re in that same boat, you know what that means. I have 2 friends.
Now don’t get sad for me. I value quality over quantity when it comes to the friends I have.
Of course, I have a few more scattered across the country but truly there are less than a handful of people I would consider traveling with.
If I waited for their work schedules and budgets to line up with mine, I’d be traveling much less frequently than I do.
My 2018 trip to Costa Rica was solo and I’ve traveled to New York solo as well. It’s one of my favorite things; Traveling alone! It is so scary before you actually do it but once you conquer your fears, you’ll never look back. That’s not to say taking a girls trip or a traveling with your partner is less enjoyable! But traveling alone keeps all your options open and once you do it, the world is truly your oyster.
Don’t neglect your own backyard.
Have you heard the saying those most New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty? Well, I haven’t seen the Lincoln Memorial! *GASP* I know, I’m terrible… Don’t worry, I’ve made it to the White House several times, and I can assure you, it’s quite underwhelming.
Neglecting your hometown is something many people are guilty of and possibly more so those who travel a lot.
It’s important to pull your head out of the clouds, off the web, and truly enjoy what’s right in front of you. Use sites like Viator and TripAdvisor to explore all the awesome gems hiding right under your nose!
Make it real.
Quit dreaming and start planning!
Start booking accommodations, buying gear, researching tour companies, and reading guide books.
If flights are already reasonable and you’ve got the time off approved, there’s no point in waiting to start taking care of the details.
Once I know I want to take a trip, I immediately buy a guide book. And since I often stay in hostels, I book through HostelWorld using their free cancellation policy.
Moving forward with the planning process sets the wheels in motion and puts the fire in your belly. It has been crucial to help me travel more.
Break the mold — Think about what YOU really want, not what society says you SHOULD want.
Take a step back from your life and think about its trajectory and what you want in the next year. What about in 5? 10?
If you’re like me, that probably means ticking off quite a few more countries and continents.
Now think about the path you’re on. Does it lead to where you want to be in those time frames? Does it make sense for YOU?
While I would never discourage anyone from going to college and getting an education… In America that is more difficult and more expensive than ever before, leaving many in crippling debt, and moving in to careers that have nothing to do with the degrees they spent so much money on.
I chose to forego college, mainly for financial reasons. While I always thought I would return, that’s now unlikely and for the career I want, unnecessary.
Truly inspect your life and think about if the things you’re pursuing are because you want them or because you think you should want them.
I’m not opposed to marriage but could never marry someone who wouldn’t eventually want to travel extensively or was at least down with letting me jet off without them.
I value travel more than a romantic partnership because travel, and the human connection it’s brought me… The empowerment it’s given me… Have brought me more fulfillment that any romantic relationship ever has.
I also want to travel more than I want to own a car or a home. A lot of people think I’m wackadoo for it but why the fuck would –or you–care about what other people think of the way we’re living our lives? Truly!
Make it a goal to leave the 9-5.
My job–While it’s a good one, that I’m very grateful to have–It isn’t really suitable for the lifestyle I want in the long-run. Many people feel the same. So while the above tips are great for the interim, if your goal is to travel much more and possibly turn it in to a lifelong commitment, how do you do that?
How do you leave the job you have for a better one?
You have to WORK HARD at the job you have while you have it. Even if it seems like a menial job that’s just a stepping stone to a better-suited long-term career. Your current position has valuable skills and lessons to learn while you’re there. Don’t scoff at your current job or see it as a hindrance when there are millions out there who would give anything for an honest days’ work. #checkyourprivilege
Utilize your stable income to grow your skills in other areas that will allow you to eventually travel more or even full time.
Read all the books you can, take online courses and attend webinars. There are plenty of ways to expand your skill set for free.
Figure out what you want to be better at and utilize the greatest tool on earth; The internet. Obviously my goal is to one day be a travel blogger. I’ve taken many courses, read lots of books and countless articles on how to do this better. All of which I’ve done for little to no cost.
Travel more by doing it full time!
While this post is aimed towards those wanting to travel more without leaving their full-time job, if you have the luxury of being able to take a leave of absence, sabbatical, or leave your career all together, there are lots of options for you as well!
This is something many of my friends have done and say they would recommend it to others. Giving back while traveling is a great way to travel cheap and bring meaning to your travels. Often volunteer organizations provide boarding for free, as well as 1 or more meals per day. It certainly won’t be glamorous living but it’s worth exploring if you feel it may be right for you. Just make sure to do THOROUGH research. Voluntourism is an industry that is rife with corrupt companies and organizations that think they’re doing good for the world but in the long run are only damaging the communities they are trying to help.
Teach English abroad
I also know a few people who have done this as well. Currently, one of my former coworkers is teaching English to children in China and seems to really love it. From the research I’ve done, the organizations are willing to do the hefty training but do require a Bachelor’s Degree.
Remember how I said a great way to travel more is to leave your 9-5? If you kick ass and gain the skills for an industry that would allow you to work remotely, your travel opportunities would expand immensely. Marketing, content creation, sales and customer service are common fields for remote workers. This brief article by The Every Girl goes into more detail about these and other industries.
It’s no secret that living in The EU is an excellent way to travel more. The European continent, Asia, and Africa are much more accessible than if you live in the Americas or Australia. So consider getting a work visa or even moving to a different country if that’s something that interests you.
Here are a few fields which you can work for a significant period with a work visa and travel during your free time:
- Au pair
- Yoga instructor
- Teaching English (see above)
- Animal sanctuaries
- Working in hostels
- House/pet sitting
- Farm work
- Government jobs… the list goes on and on.
If you want to travel more, it’s much more attainable than you think it is. Travel is not exclusively for the wealthy! If you set your mind to it and dedicate yourself to this goal, the globe can become your playground!
Perhaps some of these tips seems radical to you, and that’s totally okay! You don’t have to follow every tip from this list. Even just picking a few will prove extremely helpful in your efforts to explore the world. Inspect your life, think about what your realistic needs are and go from there.
I’ve fallen so deeply in love with this world and its inhabitants that I’ve realized its my purpose in life to see as much of it as I can. The desire to travel more is one of the best ambitions you could pick and I applaud you for the desire to broaden your horizons, expand your mind, and open your heart.
Travel is attainable with nearly any budget or lifestyle choice, as long as you’re willing to truly prioritize and budget wisely.