Have you ever found yourself wondering, “How can I travel while still working a 9-to-5?” You’re not alone. Amanda Pointer, travel-enthusiast and motivated young professional, is going to share the ways she satisfies her wanderlust while still killin’ it at the office.
How to Make the Most of Limited Vacation Days
If you don’t feel cut-out for the endless nomadic lifestyle, aren’t down with leaving the comforts of home, friends and family for good, or maybe just love your job and don’t want to give up your career at this stage of your life, I’m with you.
But if you’re like me, you still daydream of planning trips with vacation days you might not have. Don’t be discouraged – travel is still possible. You just need to get creative.
Here are some tips I’ve come up with to make the most of my limited vacation days, while continuing to feed my wanderlust.
1. Take red eye flights to cut down on travel days
One of the most frustrating parts of travel - at least for me - is getting there. I know life is supposed to be about the journey and not about the destination, but when you’ve sat in an airport for 12 hours or missed a layover due to a delay, sometimes you just wish you could skip straight to the destination. Especially when you have precious little PTO days and are trying to make the most of your vacation time.
To avoid tacking on an extra PTO day to either end of your vacation for travel days, try to book red-eye flights instead. You may not wake up feeling as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as you would with a good night’s sleep in an actual bed. But if you pack the right accessories - a neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs are a must - sleeping on an airplane just might give you an extra day or 2 in paradise.
2. Plan ahead
If you want to maximize your travel throughout the year, try planning out all of your vacation days for the entire year in advance. This way you will know just how long you can stay on the overseas trip and how many weekend getaways you can squeeze into those precious summer months without going over your allotted PTO time, or worse, winding up at the end of the year with unused PTO days that are about to expire.
3. Piggy-back on holidays
This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but when planning a trip abroad far in advance, sometimes it’s easy to overlook those “freebie” days we're given off work. If you're planning to take a trip overseas and want to make the most of limited vacation, try planning a 2-week vacation over a 3-day-weekend holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day. That extra holiday in there can turn a 16 day vacation into only 9 PTO days when planned right (including weekends, of course).
The New Years holiday is also a great time to plan a trip, as some companies offer extra holiday time. And if you play your cards right, you can use PTO days from both years in one trip.
If you’re considering traveling over the holidays and want to save money, work it out with your family to celebrate early. That way, you can fly on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, when flights tend to be a bit cheaper!
4. Work remotely for part of your stay
Not everyone has the luxury of a work-from-home job like myself, however many companies can be flexible about where you work if it’s only for a short time. Talk to your boss to see if you can work out a remote schedule during your vacation time. Working half days can turn 1 week of PTO time into a 2-week vacation if you don’t mind mixing business with pleasure.
This can also work when traveling to countries with a major time difference, like in Europe. You can work from 9 AM - 1PM EST by signing online from 3PM - 7PM in Paris, France. That still leaves you most of the day to explore the city and the evenings to relax and enjoy dinner or a night out. You can also cut down on “travel” time by working from the airport, on the long-haul flights or on train journeys.
5. Tag on extra days to business trips
I work in a position that requires travel 3 weeks out of the year and I aim to make the most of that. Now, I don’t get any say in where I am traveling for work, and while on location for work I usually have very little free-time to explore, which is why I choose to piggy-back.
Most companies won’t mind if you choose to fly home on a Sunday versus a Friday if the price of your flight isn’t much different. This way, you can take some time to explore your work-destination for your own pleasure. You may even be able to negotiate the company rate with your hotel for your extended stay by speaking to your company’s travel planner ahead of time and explaining your intentions to stay longer. This will save you money on flights and accommodation, plus it cuts back on travel time, since you are already there for work.
If your position doesn’t involve any travel, you can always look for new training opportunities or seminars in other cities that would boost your skills, and pitch the idea to your boss.
6. Make the most of your own backyard
My final tip is not to forget about the wonders you can find in your own backyard. No matter where you live or how long you’ve lived there, looking at your hometown like a tourist can open you up to new experiences.
You don’t always need a plane ticket to travel; sometimes a short car ride can take you off the beaten path and into new territory. Try exploring a place you may have frequented as a child but haven’t revisited as an adult for a new perspective. When PTO is in short-supply, a staycation just might be the cure to your wanderlust.
About the Author
Our good friend, Amanda, is a travel-loving young professional who does a killer job of balancing work and play. We’re inspired by her tenacity to fit dream vacations into her busy life while balancing her job at a digital advertising company. We found ourselves nodding along as we read these tips, because damn, they make so much sense! If you, like Amanda, work a 9-5 but still love to travel, we think this is a game-changer! Check out her Instagram gallery.