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How to Make Part-Time Travel a Priority

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I have been getting emails from readers recently asking how they can make travel a priority in their lives, while still maintaining their current lives back at home balancing bills/responsibilities/jobs/fill in the blank.

Most ask if it is even possible.

The answer? A resounding yes. It can absolutely be done with some careful planning, no matter how busy your life may seem.

Here are a few tips on how to travel when you work full time.

Acknowledge your fears. For the longest time, I was afraid to travel by myself. What if I got lost or hurt while I was alone? What if, what if…Then I realized it was now or never and I booked a flight to Krakow as my jumping off point to travel through Poland for two weeks. My dad’s side of the family is Polish and an insane curiosity had developed over the recent years about where my ancestors had come from, not to mention I would get to eat Polish food for two weeks straight.

Looking back I’m glad I took that leap and realize that not only do I have more trust in myself from that trip, but it also renewed my faith in strangers and their wiliness to help me out when I need it.

One of the biggest mental obstacles when planning a trip is any lingering doubts that might exist. It is crucial to minimize these and plan a trip that will not leave you anxious and feeling way out of your comfort zone.

If you have never traveled before, start with baby steps, go to a country that speaks a language that you can understand. Likewise if you want to travel solo, but dread doing it in a foreign country, try a weekend trip closer to home.

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Find a motivational factor to hit the road. Back when I lived in Boston, I wanted to visit Washington D.C. to see the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and finally having a window of time I bought an overnight bus ticket (not recommended if you want good sleep or any sleep at all for that matter). In retrospect, it was extremely fulfilling not only because I got to finally visit the museum, but that I followed through with a specific travel goal.

Telling yourself that one day you would like to travel to Country X just because isn’t the best way to guaranteed that it will happen. Turn a vague statement into a concrete goal and then work on a way to make it come true.

Spain might appeal to you because you have always wanted an excuse to brush-up on your Spanish or you might have been inspired by an Anthony Bourdain episode on Hong Kong and now want to experience all the deliciousness for yourself (yes, I might be speaking from personal experience).

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Define what type of travel will fit into your schedule. During graduate school, I planned a weeklong trip during Spring Break through Germany and Poland with my boyfriend. It included severalsnowstorms, sickness and a sleepless night. Looking back we could have definitely planned a bit better, but hey you live and you learn right?

If you work full-time, squeezing in a muli-country Euro trip is not ideal. Instead focus on the time that you do have (weekends, holidays, vacation) and maximize this time. It might mean that you need to plan trips closer to home, but the important thing is to find a way to get on the road.

For an excellent article on maximizing your vacation time and weekends, this article from C’est Christine is worth a read.

Make concrete plans. After traveling all these years, I still am hesitant to buy airplane tickets and usually end up buying them a month or a few weeks prior to departure. I’m not sure why, but this procrastination travel habit has been one of the hardest to break. Ironically planning the logistics (except the flight) is something I thrive on, months ahead of the trip.

Planning far into the future, even for smaller trips can create excitement months ahead of the actual departure date and will be harder to bail on than a last-minute trip.

For this post, I focused strictly on planning and getting into the right mindset for part-time travel, but purposely avoided talking about financial strategies, since I plan to discuss them in another post coming soon. Stay tuned!

Do you believe it’s possible to work full-time and travel often?

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  • Great post, Julia! I was struggling with the lack of time when I was working full time but exactly as you say – with careful planning, it is possible. Take advantage of all bank holidays and long weekends and try to plan your trip around these dates. Also, I often postponed my travel plans simply because I had nobody to go with – it was very difficult to find a common time frame when all your friends work, too. But the best decision ever was simply to go alone! Luckily, now I have the luxury of lots of free time, but it was not always the case – anyway, I learnt it is possible to work and travel, too 🙂

    • Hi Monika, thank you for your kind words! I often struggled with making concrete plans as well because I couldn’t find a travel partner, but like you discovered the magic of solo travel and a whole new world of possibilities opened up, both with planning my trips and also on the trip itself 🙂

  • Barbara Bardzki Löfgren

    Apologies if my comment comes up twice, but loved this piece – really inspirational. Thank you!

    • Hi Barbara, thank you, I’m glad you found this post helpful! It is a topic that I strongly believe in and glad to find it resonates with others as well.

  • La Travelera

    It isn’t difficult to work full time and travel, what must be difficult is having a family, work full time and travel…
    http://www.travelera.es

    • Yes, having a family makes things a bit more difficult, but not impossible to travel. I have deeper admiration for those families who are able to make it work, whether it’s frequent weekend trips or living/traveling abroad. Some of my best childhood memories are weekend road trips:)

  • Both my husband and I work full time… However, in the past 10 years, we have visited over 30 countries together.

    For me, the main thing is planning – both financial and in terms of time. If you are not a full time travel, you probably,like us, have to pay rent / mortgage – every spare pound we have goes into our travel fund. By being sensible about how we spend money, we always have enough money to travel (we are budget travellers!).

    And you need to plan your time properly. There are certain times that you may not be able to off… Times that you can have extended time off. Make sensible choices about where to go. Don’t try to cram a mini tour of Italy in the half term- when it’ll be double the price and you will have to rush.

    As much as I love the idea of travelling forever, I also love my job and want my own home. But I will never give up my dreams of travelling. As long as you are sensible, working full time and travelling is easy and incredibly rewarding

    • Hi Karianne, great advice! It seems like you guys have part-time travel down. As I get older the idea of long-term travel has been less appealing and part-time travel with a home to come back to seems to be more of a fit, because for me it’s the best of both worlds 🙂

  • Some great tips. For me, if you starting thinking about the fact that most people in the U.S. have 124 days a year you aren’t working (weekends, holidays, 2 weeks vacation) that is a lot of time to fit in travel. You just have to be creative about it.

    • Hi Megan, that’s a great way to look at time-off that I hadn’t thought of before. When you put it this way, it seems completely more doable, even if your trips are for the most part shorter. I’m a big fan of weekend road trips:)

  • World Journeys

    thats how i survived from 2006 through to 2011, saving and every 18 months abouts I would travel. Actually, a good idea for a blog post recounting those trips. but short trips in the end werent feeding my travel desires enough and I had to take a full year off in 2011! Such is life!

    • Hi Andrew, that’s awesome that you were able to save up and travel like that. The pesky thing about travel is that it’s highly addictive:) I’m sure you have some great stories to tell from your travels short and long-term!

  • Great tips here, especially those around setting your goals and reflecting on what may be stopping you from achieving them. In my experience, it’s all about getting over the first hurdle – once you’re on the travelling bandwagon you’ll be hooked!

  • Yes! I recently came back from my first solo international trip and I’ve resolved to make travel a huge priority in my life. Seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, and meeting new people is so fulfilling for me. I also usually like to run a marathon or half-marathon on my travels 😉

    • Congrats on your recent solo trip! That’s huge. Glad to hear it further inspired you to travel (and run marathons around the globe)!