How to travel the world with a 9-5 job

I’ve had a few emails recently from fellow bloggers asking how they can ‘be a fulltime blogger and travel the world’ and I feel like a fraud telling them that I actually have a fulltime job. Yep, I work 9-5 just like everybody else and have minimal holidays to travel. I don’t have the option to buy back holidays or take unpaid leave. But within the last 12 months I’ve managed to travel to Girona, Morocco, Canada, South Africa, India, Gambia, Cornwall and Belgium. Not bad for a girl that is in the office for most of the year.

So how do I manage to travel so much?

I work as the social media specialist for Flight Centre UK but most of the trips I take aren’t work related. My trip to Canada was for work and my trip to Morocco was a familiarisation trip but I still had to take that as a holiday. The rest of my trips have been blog trips for The Travel Hack or ones I organised independently that I have to use my precious holidays for.

So here’s how I make my holidays go that bit further

Always travel over weekends or bank holidays

varanasi
Rowing along the River Ganges, India

This is an obvious one, I know, but planning to travel over long-weeks can save you so many holidays. I travelled to India over Easter so saved two holidays. It might not sound like a lot but that’s an extra long weekend I can save for later in the year. The only problem with travelling over holidays is that everyone wants to do it so you have to be organized to be guaranteed the time off work and so it doesn’t cost you a fortune. Which takes me to my next point.

Stay local and stick to shorter flights

boats in Falmouth cornwall
Spending the weekend in Falmouth, Cornwall

Hands up if you’ve travelled to the other side of the world and explored some far-flung places that your friends have never even heard of but you’ve barely explored what’s in your own backyard. Until recently I’ve been guilty of this but having minimal holidays has forced me to explore areas that are nearer to home and allow me to be back in work at 9am on a Monday morning.

One of my favourite things about living in London is that I can be at one of three airports in around an hour which means I don’t need to book an afternoon off work. This means it’s super easy to take quick trips and take advantage of spontaneous last minute deals.

The Eurostar is  also my new BFF and I’ve been to Belgium twice in the past 12 months and plan to go to Berlin and Paris soon too. I love the fact that I can hop on a train after work and be in a new country by dinner time. And if you were super keen, you could even take the first train back to London on Monday morning and be back in work for 9am.*

*I’m not being paid to love the Eurostar this much, I genuinely just think it’s the best thing since the invention of GHDs.

Extend work trips

Skiing at sun peaks
My office for the week at Sun Peaks, Canada

I’m lucky enough to work for a global company and my boss is based in Canada and my team are spread all over the world. What does this mean? It means we all have to get together at least once a year and it might as well be somewhere fabulous. Last year we met up at Sun Peaks, a ski resort near Whistler in Canada, and extended the trip for team building in the snow. Not a bad business meeting, right?

Try to find a way that travelling can benefit your work*

Quad biking in morocco
Quad biking in Morocco

I spend all day writing about travel on the Flight Centre blog, thinking about travel, tweeting about travel and encouraging people to travel. And if I don’t travel I have no motivation or inspiration to come up with anything new or innovative so I’ve made a deal at work that while I’m on holiday, I’ll spend one day on work projects. I’ll spend one day taking photos for the blog, interviewing people and writing up articles so we can use them in work. This is valuable for work and also eats into my holiday so I get a holiday back for all my hard work. It’s a win win situation. If I go away for 2 weeks then I get 2 days back and, once again, this is another long weekend later in the year.

*I know this option isn’t for most people but I’ve said before that I struggle to switch off and I’m constantly writing, photographing and blogging so I might as well do it for work. One day I will learn to switch off, honest…

Learn to sleep on planes

And if you can’t, take some sleeping tablets! I”m really lucky that I can usually get a good nights sleep on a plane, meaning I can take a red eye flight and be fine going straight to work. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be exhausted and fueled by nothing but coffee by the end of the day but I’d rather be tired than waste a precious holiday on sleeping.

Don’t let your travels interfere with your work

I think the most important thing when you’re squeezing your travels between your 9-5 job is not to let your constant travelling affect your work. Sometimes my travels will benefit my job but I’m sure my boss would rather I was bright and perky every Monday morning and be ready to get stuck into my job rather than falling asleep at my desk after another epic weekend away. It’s important to find the right balance and make sure travelling never interferes with work.

So for anyone else out there who manages to travel with a full-time job, how do you manage to squeeze in your trips between the 9-5?

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had a baby and is now determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (56)
  1. You are not a fraud! I think it is encouraging for both bloggers and travel blog readers to know the blogger they follow works a full time job, because then they know they can do it too. Travel isn’t just for people that travel for a living. (Not that I would complain if money became no object and I could travel the world and blog about it full time!) I am lucky enough to get five weeks a year for time off, and I never call in sick so I can use all of it for travel.

    1. Thanks Katherine! You’re very lucky to get 5 weeks off. I’ve spoken to a few people today who barely get any holidays and it must be so tough. I’m so glad we get more!

  2. Great article, I find that taking a Friday off work and heading on a two day city break is a great way to get loads of trips in while working 9-5. You can easily get five or six long weekends and still have a two week or two one week ‘proper’ holidays while having enough days for a few random days off, interviews, festivals etc.

  3. Great ideas. In the past I felt weird to use work trips as a way to take a holiday. I did it once and had a blast. Now I am getting invited on all these blog tours, which makes traveling even easier!

  4. This is great Monica. Most people who travel live a 9 – 5 life and are just trying to find more ways to see the world in shorter periods of time. I used to be a 9 – 5 traveler and like you, I took advantage of every long weekend, traveling locally and anything I could to see the world a little bit at a time. Travel enriches our lives in a way nothing else does so it always wonderful to see people making time for it wherever they can.

    1. Yes, I’m really surprised by the reaction to this post with lots of people emailing me to say ‘yes, I do this too!’ There are lots of 9-5 workers with a love for travel out there!

  5. This is such a great post! I’m currently travelling full time but will head back to Blighty in October and am determined to make the most of my annual leave (provided I find a job!). Travelling to far flung corners of the globe has really made me appreciate what we have on our doorstep and just how easy it is to get there. I’ve always been a big fan of manipulating leave around public holidays and you’re right, every single day counts.

    1. That’s so true. It was when I was in Australia that I realised how lucky we are to be so close to Europe. All the Aussies are obsessed with Europe and I was so embarrassed that I’ve barely explored any of it!

  6. I havent done a whole lot of traveling (a little but not a lot) but while I was reading through the article, I honestly though to myself that I could still do more traveling while keeping my day job. Like you said, there is a lot in my own backyard that I still haven’t seen. I’ll start there.

  7. Fantastic! I’m not working yet, I only start my big girl job in August but once it begins I’m looking forward to this challenge! I’ve never been the type to take short trips hee and there, instead saving for huge, super long adventures. However Matt and I are working hard to make a few getaways happen, looking to spend a weekend in Boston or Chicago and would love to explore Alberta!

    1. I didn’t think I was a ‘little trip’ kind of person either but I started going crazy with 6 months between each holiday so you soon get used to it!
      Good luck for when you start your big girl job!

  8. Some good ideas, Monica! My previous work place let me work extra to cover few days. Coupled with weekends and other holidays, I plan the trips usually taking 2 weeks at a time. My current work is also the same so I have the option of covering the time I plan to take off.

  9. Great tips! It really is hard to travel and work full time. I used to only get away to one or two places a year. I find that for me it’s easier to save up, leave a job and take a longer trip. Since I did that, I’ve managed to get some freelance work too, and my next destination will be a working holiday. Whichever way you manage it though, it has to be done!

  10. Absolutely loved this post! Thank you so much for posting! I currently work a 9-5 job and have the challenge of going to college at the same time. To read a post like this is always highly encouraging! I too, try to take long weekends and then try to save my “big trip” for a couple of weeks of vacation per year. After I’m done with schooling I would love to live abroad somewhere in the EU and spend a couple years exploring over there and taking advantage of the easy transportation and nearby countries!

    1. I really wish I’d studied abroad, it’s such a great way to explore a new country and carry on with your work and studies. If you get the chance you should definitely do it!

  11. Thanks so much for this article! I too have a full time 9-5 job (more like a 7-5, ughhh) but attempt to travel as much as possible. I feel like I keep reading travel blogs from people who are able to travel indefinitely/take RTW trips, and this is just not an option for me right now. I am currently building up a page on my blog, “48 hours”, to show people just how much food, sites, and fun you can cram into a short 48 hours. Living in the USA, most of my friends and husband only get a mere 2 weeks of vacation days a year- not much at all! Thankfully I am a teacher, and get about 7-8 weeks off, although they are predetermined and I cannot choose my travel dates (which means I am traveling during peak holiday times = more $$$).

    1. I felt the same Jessica, all the blogs I read seem to shout about quitting your job and travelling the world. ‘Break out of your cubicle and leave it all behind!’ But what about all the people who enjoy their jobs but still love travel!?
      A 48 hour series sounds brilliant, I look forward to reading it!

  12. I think the fact that you live in London gives you an advantage and allows you to travel a lot more than you think. You’re only a couple of hours away from most western/central European countries which can easily be sqeezed into a weekend or a long weekend on the back of a bank/public holiday. It also means a lot of your holiday time is not used up in getting to your destination. I travelled every few months when I lived in London. But now, back in Australia, where everything is so far away and the distances are huge, it’s much harder to escape even if you want to go interstate. To travel to London or Europe from Australia, I can kiss goodbye two whole days each way in travel time alone. That’s four days for a return trip, which is valuable time used up if you only have a couple of weeks of annual leave up your sleeve. As such, it’s far more common on this side of the world that people take a break once a year for a month if they plan to travel overseas.

    1. I definitely agree, living in London is a huge advantage. I used to live in Wales and even there it was more difficult to get around. I spent 18 months in Australia and got my travel fix by travelling around within Oz but I see that a quick weekend break to somewhere new is virtually impossible.

  13. Useful advice! I think with a vast selection of low-cost airlines doing this is much easier. London is definitely one of the best places for taking advantage of such deals.

    Also Europe offers an endless amount of diverse travel opportunities in a relatively small area. I also try to take advantage of it as often as possible. You are very welcome to check out my blog and get a fresh idea or three for your next vacation. 😉

  14. I recognised your Sun Peaks photo instantly! I worked there a few years ago and loved EVERY single minute of it. What did you like most about it? We went hot tubbing (multiple fence jumps) after a few drinks one night and then ran around in the snow…standard night haha.

    1. That sounds like so much fun! We met quite a few people who worked there for a season and they all seemed to love it.
      I loved everything about it. I’d been to Andorra the year before and hadn’t enjoyed it because the snow was crappy, the slopes were too busy and the bars were pretty grotty but Sun Peaks was just perfect. I’d love to go back again some time! You’re so lucky to have worked there!

  15. This is such a good post, I always wondered how people travelled so much while working. Even since I’ve worked from home I struggle if I don’t at least do a few hours work every day. Also… HOW CUTE IS YOUR NEW LAYOUT. I can’t believe I’m only just seeing it, where have I been? So fab x

  16. I have a four-day work week (10 hours days) so every weekend is a 3-day weekend. It makes it so much easier to tack on vacations that way without soaking up all of my vacation time!

  17. Great post Monica. Seems like a lot of your readers are all in the same boat.
    Agree with the Aus comment about losing two days each way in transit. That plus time difference can really knock you around.

    Since landing in London i try and get away once a month. Any less than thay and started to go a bit coocoo. You move halfway around the world to see the world so I say get out there!

    The only problem I can see with long weekend traveling is the cost. Airlines jump up their prices. I guess its a trade off vs using annual leave/holidays.

    Weekend travel quickly teaches you to pack ligjt too, which was a very new concept for me.

    1. Yea, it’s great hearing from other people in the same position. There are so many blogs about full-time travellers, it’s nice to hear from other people who are squeezing holidays in between their job.
      Ha – travelling light is so tough! It’s something I’ve still not managed to crack.

  18. This is a great post! I also have a 9-5 and will be in the international departures terminal for the 7th time in the past yr 🙂
    Your points are all great but I would add:
    Overnight flights are your friend! Living in South Africa, I usually have to fly long haul and if I can fly when id normally be sleeping that’s a win for me! I often fly out sun night and arrive mon morning, in time for work.
    Also, travelling over holidays like you said, is a must. A public holiday cannot be wasted staying at home!

    Great post 🙂 Hasmita http://www.joziliciousblog.co.za

    1. That’s a really good point. I’ll always take an overnight flight whenever I can. I feel really bad for people who can’t sleep on flights but if you can get some sleep that’s an even bigger bonus!

  19. This is awesome! I love travelling and want a decent job in the future, I never really thought you could seriously have both, but you’ve made me realise I can. This is a brilliant post that I’ll definitely be looking back at when I graduate! Thank you!

    xxx

  20. Oh man. I wish we had more holiday time in North America! We had to quit our jobs in order to travel as we knew 3 weeks a year wasn’t going to cut it- it would take us 14 years of vacation time to be able to travel as much as we did in one year- not including travel time!

    Amazing you’ve made it work out though!

  21. You really answered the questions I’ve been wanting to ask to people who travel most. I can’t seem to define how can they get away with just all travels and no work. But on your part a full time job plus travel is a good way to go. I may follow some of your advise because it sound very rational, I wish I could visit more countries in a year by following your advise. Keep it up!

  22. I also love travelling very much , and also want to travel the world as much as i can , but i am unable to do this due to my busy schedule job 😛

  23. Definitely some sound advice here Monica. In fact, as my actual job is writing and marketing for a travel company, I think it’s time for me to build a case for doing much more on-location work. And at this time of year, South America couldn’t be a better location 🙂

  24. I actually work a 9-5, but I do have a bit more days off: 30 in total.
    I use them all on travel and I plan city trips and getaways in my home country Belgium during the weekends and on public holidays.
    And I blog during the evenings, nights and weekends:)

  25. These are all great tips, Monica! I too work a full time job and travel blog. I was able to work out telecommuting and have been doing that for nearly 5 years now, so it gives me flexibility to travel and work at the same time, so long as I have an internet connection. It’s tough, but it just takes making travel a priority and finding the balance that works for me.

    Or, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. 😉

  26. The only problem with staying local is your actual location. London is closer to a variety of countries than in New York. Benefit of living in Europe I guess.

  27. Great tips! I am in the lucky position of being sself employed which makes it a little easier and I don’t have to count vacationdays, but at the end of the day I still have to make sure I make enough money to have a life.. 😉
    O and one other thing; I tried to leave a comment while on my ipad but it keeps telling me that I have used the wrong captcha code. (which I didn’t.. ;)) Just thought I mention it

  28. I just found your blog and it’s so lovely. I’m also a fulltime blogger with a fulltime job with very little vacationdays. I live on the island called Curacao in the caribbean (next to Aruba and just above Venezuela). I have like 15 days per year not counting ofcourse the holidays. And my husband is self employment so we plan carefully around my days to go once a year or more if possible on a vacation elsewhere off the island. As tickets are expensive we plan ahead sometimes. And indeed to make use the long weekends. We love to travel but even that it can be expensive for us we do it!! 🙂 That’s why I miss europe for the trains and stuff like that 🙁 (was born and raised in holland) . Anyway love your blog. Keep on the good work 😉

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.