One of the most asked questions I get is how to travel with a full-time job. And to be honest, it is not always easy and requires a bit of strategy. But it is not impossible!
With my full-time job, I’ve been able to travel to Hawai’i, Mexico, and even take a 52-hour Amtrak train ride from Chicago to California. So yes, you can travel with a normal 9 to 5 job. But, just like anything else, finding time to travel takes some planning.
So that’s where I come in! Whether you want to find jobs that allow you to travel, figure out how to travel while working remotely, or want to travel with a full-time job, I got you. I want to see you win, and these tips can take you one step closer to living vicariously through yourself.
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Tips on how to travel with a normal job
Get started planning early
If you know that the next year will be a big year of traveling for you, start planning sooner than later. Sometimes “how to travel with a full-time job” means “how to plan my entire travel life in a weekend.” It sounds intense, but mapping out where you want to go in advance can ease your nerves later. Then, plot all those holidays off to see which ones are available for you to travel.
Plan around the holidays
Most people focus on the big holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, there are other holidays to plan around too. For example, concentrating on Labor Day, Memorial Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, etc., can help you build in three to four-day weekends into your regular schedule. Do this by taking that Friday or Monday off!
Travel in the off-season
Contrary to the point above, traveling in the off-season is a great way to incorporate more travel into your life. Not only is it cheaper, but also there is less competition. Especially since everyone wants to travel at the end of the year due to all the holidays.
Consider planning a trip in February or racking up some days around Memorial Day instead of the 4th of July (if you are in the U.S). You can also Google the offseason of your destination too. For example, New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, so February into March are busy times. Consider going in January instead.
Plan trips closer to home
If you do not want to rack up all that PTO at once, consider shorter trips! Research tourist destinations in your state or country (depending on how large it is) to find new places to visit nearby. It is a common misconception that you have to go abroad to “travel” when there are many places to explore nearby.
Start collecting travel points
One of the most underrated ways to travel more is by racking up points! And the best part? You don’t even need a travel credit card (if you don’t want it). Here are a few ways how:
- Sign up for airline rewards programs (such as Delta and American). These are free programs where you accumulate miles with your flight purchases.
- For those who want a travel credit card you have a lot of options! Some use the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred cards. Others use airline credit cards such as Delta Skymiles American Express. The Points Guy is a great resource to choose the right card for you.
- Other rewards programs to consider are Amtrak for train travelers and AARP rewards for discounts on travel packages and resources (and yes, you can join as a young person).
Take shorter trips
A flight across the world is not always feasible due to family and work responsibilities. Instead of taking a 13-hour flight to Morocco to the Sahara Desert, take a few hours to go to the southwest of the U.S. The climates are comparable, and the flight time is significantly shorter. You can enjoy Morocco another time when it aligns with your schedule! Shorter trips are also more eco-friendly.
Start solo traveling
While your full-time job may be a significant hindrance to your traveling, finding people to travel with can be too. Even if you have days off, that does not mean your family and friends can come along. Solo traveling fixes all of that and is an excellent alternative because you only rely on yourself.
Take advantage of work travel
Conferences, training, and other leadership development events are easy ways to travel with a full-time job. Having a job that requires you to travel means your employer can probably cover some of the expenses too. You can find a conference based on your profession too.
Does your job have a professional development fund? If so, you can also use that to pay for a conference of leadership development opportunity in a new city, state, or country. Again, use all the resources and perks to your advantage. Just make sure the conference you use ties back to your job, so your employer knows how it benefits the company.
Catch those super early or super late flights
My 9 to 5ers, who are morning people, will like this one! Traveling with a full-time job probably means your workday starts at 9 am. If you plan to be gone that Friday but want to get there before then, consider catching a red-eye flight.
Yes, these can be a pain to put yourself through. However, a red-eye flight means you have more time in your day to explore wherever you’re headed. Similarly, taking a flight after work can help you maximize the time as well.
Getting jobs that allow you to travel
One way to set yourself up to travel with a full-time job is to find jobs that allow you to travel. Since you have to work to make money and want to travel, beginning your search with traveling jobs is an ideal middle ground. You may have to put in work to travel with a 9 to 5, but these are some ideas to start.
Consider remote work
Remote work is becoming more and more normalized. And for an aspiring traveler, what’s better than a job you can work from anywhere? Data analyst, customer support executive, content writer, project manager, etc., are just some of the many titles of possible remote positions.
Whichever remote opportunity you pursue will vary based on your career path. It is also possible to get a remote job if you want to pivot into a new career. To figure out which remote job is for you, outline your professional skills and align them with remote job directories.
Apply for international fellowships
International fellowships are some of the world’s best-kept secrets as ways to help you travel with a full-time job. As a former Fulbright Fellow, I know the benefits of the opportunity to live, work, and travel abroad stress-free through a fully-funded international opportunity. With the stipend and health insurance, your needs are met, and you have the weekends to adventure.
These international fellowship programs can kickstart or even restart a new career path for applicants. But I can admit they can be highly tedious during the application process. There is a good chunk of planning and prepping involved, so use this advice to get started.
Pursue teaching English abroad
Going abroad to teach English is one of the most well-known jobs that can incorporate traveling. It’s been on the rise for years! And now, there are so many programs to choose from nowadays. Some of these include the North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain, CIEE programs, and Fulbright.
Teaching English abroad can be a great traveling job outside the U.S since they pay relatively well. However, the schools can vary in quality and support they offer teaching assistants. Check out my blog post on things you should know before teaching English abroad for more tips.
Live abroad full-time
Sometimes figuring out how to travel with a normal job means getting one abroad! Moving abroad to live and work is for travelers who want to go all-in. Between visas and figuring out how to navigate a new country, moving abroad is a journey. But on the other side is more time and access to travel to new places.
Finding jobs that allow you to travel is simpler when you move to the country or continent you want to explore yourself. So, yes, there are advantages and disadvantages of living abroad that you should take into consideration. But if you are ready to commit 100% to this traveling life, living abroad may be the best option for you.
Advice on how to find time to travel
I’m well aware that these tips on how to travel with a full-time job come from a place of privilege. And there are many other travel privileges layered on top of it. For example, I’m currently childless, 20-something with a Master’s degree that provides international opportunities, but currently at a salaried remote job.
With that said, this was all intentional because I knew how much I loved to travel in undergrad. Now with a 9-5, traveling with a full-time job takes a lot of work. There is a strategy behind every trip that takes lots of planning and time.
So my advice on finding time to travel is to figure out what works best for you. A single person with no family responsibilities may have a different trajectory than a married person with kids and a parent to care for in their life. And when in doubt, start traveling locally and nationally before making that leap abroad.
Good luck, and I hope you check off your career and bucket list dreams!