How I Traveled To 7 Countries While Working Full-Time
When I started this blog, my main goal became showing practical and useful ways that working abroad can enable lots of travel in a financially sustainable way. So when I got to thinking about making one of those “Year in Review” posts, it occurred to me that one way I could make this information slightly more useful than self-indulgant would be to concretely show how I spent eight weeks traveling while holding down a full-time job.
“Work hard. Travel harder.”
I’m pretty surprised that my numbers amount to more than eight weeks on the road. Some more shocking arithmetic: that means that 1 out of every 6 weeks in the year, I’m traveling. A solid two months away from home. I’m frankly a little amazed that my plants are doing so well � Maybe I’ve just trained them to be survivors…anyways, here’s a detailed breakdown:
60 days on the road
27 days of vacation used
55% of travel time was using vacation days
Okay, enough gloating. To be fair, there are a whole lot of people who are traveling way more than this. Plus, the point of this post is not to wow you with how much holiday I take, but to give some real life examples of how I’m able to work full-time and travel as much as I do within the constraints of a full-time job.
How to maximize your travel while holding down a full-time job
Here are my personal hacks I used to make this year of travel possible, as well as some untapped potential that I can use in 2017! These tips are really simple, but go a long way when applied strategically:
Vacation days is the most obvious limiting factor. Unless you are working at one of these ultra-hip companies that grants unlimited vacation, the best way to get more vacation is either to negotiate the heck out of it during salary discussions or moving to a country with more mandated minimum days of holiday. I think France and Austria mandate the highest number of vacation days overall, but Germany is also respectable with 25 days being the norm.
As often as possible, travel without taking vacation days. Or, use vacation days to bridge together two holidays, or simply take a long weekend. Here are a couple more tricks for using vacation days smartly.
Leverage national holidays. Again, this varies country-by-country (and often on a province and state-level). If I’m honest, I spent most of my holidays staying home in Berlin and enjoying a weekday off of work. Traveling during holidays can get pretty hectic, but it’s a great way to pad a longer trip with days that don’t count against your PTO.
Lots of long weekends. As a full-time employee, the long weekend is our best friend. Especially living in Europe, a weekend escape can transpire with minimal planning and travel time. Almost all of my trips included a weekend, except when I was traveling for work.
Take shorter trips more often. Even as a frequent traveler, I probably only take one or two major trips per year. By major trip, I mean more than one week in length. It’s way too easy to blow those vacation days on one or two long trips, leaving little wiggle room for the rest of the year when you might NEED a vacation to take a break from work. Plus, science says that shorter trips make us happier than long vacations
Travel close to home. There are so many hidden treasures in our own cities and within a few hours of them, it is unbelievable! This year I really delved into Berlin and tried the touristy things, as well as some more “local” experiences involving trips into nature. Though I have to say the highlight was getting to Kromlau. None of these trips required any vacation time to be consumed, and they were all really lovely.