For many people, “wanderlust” and “full-time job” seem like mutually exclusive terms. When you’re committed to working 40-plus hours a week and only receive a handful of vacation days a year, it’s easy to let your dreams of traveling the world fall by the wayside.
But when you’re armed with the right strategies, it is possible to be a cubicle dweller and a frequent traveler. So if you want to travel more in the year ahead (without begging your boss for more vacation time), make a point of adopting the following strategies.
1. Maximize all holidays and vacation days. This might seem like a no-brainer. But a depressing number of Americans leave multiple vacation days unused each year. So the first step for anyone who wants to travel more is to utilize all of your vacation days for travel. If you have enough vacation days, aim to sandwich your travel days between weekends in order to extend the length of your trip.
The same goes for company and federal holidays, especially holidays that provide you with a long weekend. Take advantage of three-day weekends by leaving for your destination right after work on the day before the holiday (instead of waiting to leave until the next morning). This way you’ll extend the amount of time you’re able to spend at your destination.
2. Go local. When you work all week, it’s easy to confine the weekends to playing catch-up. Laundry, errands, and other chores too often supplant the thirst for adventure. By reclaiming your weekends, you can utilize them for short jaunts to new locales.
There’s an art to this practice: Pack your bags on Thursday night so you’ll be ready to go as soon as the workday ends on Friday. Minimize your time spent in transport by picking a destination that’s easy to get to, whether it’s a nearby town or an attraction in your own city that you’ve yet to visit. And do some research about the destination during the week so you can hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.
3. Roll over existing vacation days. If you’ve dreamed of backpacking from Barcelona to Paris or wandering for a week or two in southeast Asia but you work full-time, then you’re going to need to do some scrimping and saving—and we’re not just talking about your finances. Instead, take stock of your company’s vacation policies to learn whether you’ll be able to roll over unused vacation days from one year to the next. If this is the case, plan to save up your existing vacation days so you can spend them on your dream vacation next year.
4. Piggyback on business trips. If your job requires that you travel for work, see if you can tack on an extra day or two to explore your destination or stop at an interesting city or town between your destination and your workplace on the way home. If your employer is reticent, you could even sell it as a cost-saving move—perhaps by adding a day to your trip, you’ll be able to find a less expensive flight. If your job doesn’t require travel, consider signing up for professional development opportunities or work conferences in exciting destinations.
5. Work remotely. Sure, it’s a drag to work when you’re traveling. But it beats not getting to travel at all. If your job allows remote work, then this means you could ostensibly work from anywhere with an internet connection for a few days. The number of remote days you can take consecutively will determine whether you travel near or far. Even better? Look into Unsettled, an amazing company that curates month-long remote work experiences in destinations like Bali and Medellin.
With a little ingenuity (and a lot of flexibility), it is possible to travel more without quitting your full-time job.