How to travel with a full-time job

My full-time job is the only thing that’s stopping me from travelling. Actually – that’s a lie. There are other things like money and my cat, but really my full-time job isn’t stopping me at all – I spend most free moments thinking about my next destination, planning or trip or actually taking one. Even with my 23 days’ holiday this year, I’ve planned 8 trips to 7 different countries, so it is possible.

Sure, there are times where I’ve considered packing it all in and just going for good, but for now I’m okay as a part-time traveller.

Here’s how you can do it too.

    1. Embrace it as a hobby
      Hobbies naturally demand a lot of your attention, time and money. If you make travel your hobby, you will find yourself looking for chances to travel that you never thought existed. You’ll turn a day working in a different office into an opportunity to explore that city, or you’ll force yourself to get up early on a Sunday to visit that museum in the town just down the road. Try this, and you’ll start looking for any excuse to get out there and see the world.
    2. Choose experiences over things
      It’s now scientifically proven that experiences bring people more joy than material things. Happily, travel is one of the best and most rewarding experiences out there. So when you think about buying that new pair of shoes or putting the latest laptop on your birthday list, consider swapping it out for a holiday or a day out somewhere. You don’t need anything else.
    3. Save money wherever possible
      By choosing experiences over things, you’ll naturally reallocate the money you would have spent on things on travel. But there are other ways to save too. Transfer money into a savings account each month, skip your morning Starbucks and stash the coins in a piggy bank, sell your unwanted things on eBay. You’ll be amazed how quickly the money stacks up and you’ll be booking that weekend in Paris in no time.
    4. Remember it’s okay to think small
      Not every trip you take has to be a mammoth 5 week tour of Australia. Some of my favourite travel moments have been on weekends away in the UK, or a quick trip over to Europe using no-frills airlines and cheap hotels. You don’t even need to take time off work to enjoy them!
    5. Be willing to forgo luxury
      Okay. I’ll admit it. Travelling (even while earning a full time wage) is expensive. That means luxury just isn’t possible most of the time. Use Air B&B, fly no frills airlines, stay with friends, sleep in shared dorms… There are loads of ways to make your trip that bit cheaper. But do remember to splurge every once in a while. If you can afford it, why wouldn’t you stay in a glass igloo in Finland? You might never get the opportunity to do it again. Go on… you deserve a treat.
    6. Take day trips
      One of the cheapest ways to travel is to take lots and lots of day trips. If you’re lucky enough to live in a country with good public transport, you could visit somewhere hundreds of miles away and make it home that same day. London is one of my favourite cities. I must have taken 100s of day trips to the city, and there’s still so much to see. Where could you go?
    7. Use ‘free’ days
      If you’re limited to a small number of annual leave days, use Bank Holidays and other ‘free’ days off to extend your trips. Although travel at these times of year tend to be more expensive, if you book early enough or, conversely, find a last-minute deal, you might be able to bag a bargain.
    8. Make the most of your local area
      Even though you live there, have you ever taken the time to explore your own city or the surrounding areas? I didn’t even realise I live in a city that boasts a zoo, Roman ruins and a million other sites I have taken for granted. An upcoming blog post even sees me reviewing the Top 10 Things To Do In My Hometown. Now, I wouldn’t recommend them all, but I had a lot of fun trying them out. Why don’t you give it a go?
    9. Plan annual leave in advance
      An old boss of mine used to say ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. Thins rings true even in travel. At the beginning of the year, I like to allocate each of my annual leave days to a trip and spread them out over the year. This means I have lots to look forward to but also that I’m less likely to ‘waste’ days off catching up with Jeremy Kyle or spending too long in bed. Booking trips in advance also generally gets the best rates, so what are you waiting for?
    10. Negotiate a sabbatical
      This is something I’m delighted to say I’ve achieved this year – by working hard at my job and mentioning my future plans early, I have managed to bag myself a 7 week sabbatical to be taken in 2017 or 2018. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Speak to your boss – you might be surprised what they’d agree to!
    11. Just do it! 
      My favourite piece of advice. If you really wanted to travel, you wouldn’t make excuses not to – the money, the time, the effort… Forget the reasons not to, and remember the reasons why you should. Travel is an investment in yourself and one of the only things that will actually make you ‘richer’. Just do it.


Do you pack lots of trips in to your working year? Do you have any top tips to share on how to manage it?

6 thoughts on “How to travel with a full-time job

  1. Amanda C @ UnrestingSea says:

    #1 = love.
    For us full-timers, travel has to be a mindset. If we think of travel as an unattainable luxury, then of course we’ll never afford it! I definitely agree that weaving travel as a part of your being is the best way to integrate it in your daily life.

    • Anna (wouldbetraveller) says:

      You’re absolutely right, Amanda. I do get upset when my colleagues think I must have a six figure salary, or have managed to negotiate extra time off from my boss. But no, it’s totally possible and all within the restrictions of a standard contract! I’m so glad you have achieved the right balance too 🙂

    • Anna (wouldbetraveller) says:

      Thank you very much! I’m glad it’s inspiring, because I’ve always been hugely inspired by the Travelfemme community!

  2. Liz says:

    I’m so impressed that you’re doing 8 trips in 7 countries with just 23 days, that’s awesome!! These are such good tips. I agree about exploring your local area, some of my favourite trips have been a three hour drive from home. Another tip for working full time and travelling is considering a career with shift work. I’m a shift worker which means sacrifices like working Saturday nights sometimes but it also means I can get several days off in a row between rosters. Very useful for cheap flights!

    • Anna (wouldbetraveller) says:

      Thanks for your comment, Liz! I’ve just posted another article about exploring your local area using TripAdvisor for advice – I definitely recommend trying it out one day!
      Your shift work career is a great idea – it certainly helps to block days off together for long weekends away. Where are you off to next?

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