I have to admit, there’s a hint of envy every time I hear that one of my 30-something friends quit his or her job to travel full time. After all, that has been my dream since my late teens.
But life happens.
I got married, bought a house with a 25-year mortgage and had a kid. Although that hasn’t stopped me from the heeding the call of wanderlust, I need to be a bit more realistic. I need my full-time job. In fact, I need the two full-time jobs that I have. They both pay well. I get to buy what I want and I get to travel often. So there really is no downside to keeping your job while enjoying an adventure-filled life. It’s really all a matter of planning.
So how do I do it? I set goals and invest what I make from my full-time job to build some expendable income for travel. Sounds simple? Not really. Haha. So let me break it down for you.
- Know your vacation leaves. All companies have this and it really is your right to take your leave without having someone call you while you’re on vacation (except maybe for emergencies). In the Philippines, companies usually allot 7 days paid vacation leave for regular employees. So before you start packing for your next trip, read your employee manual. If it says you need to be a regular employee before you go on vacation, then understand what it takes to get there.
- Plan ahead and communicate your travel intentions. I report directly to the CEO of our company so getting him to sign my leave form can sometimes be nerve-wracking, especially if I’m taking two to three weeks off to go gallivanting. I’ve been with the same company for ten years and I learned that the trick to getting this out of the way is to really plan it well. I often let him know at least a month in advance that I will be out of the office for more than a week. I also remind him of my upcoming vacation the week before. And last but not the least, I delegate any tasks that I am leaving unfinished before I’m off to the sunset.
- Save. Invest. Save. So there’s the problem of putting the trip budget together. I can’t exactly do what other travel bloggers are doing and go on long trips funded by holiday work, can I? So, I set a budget for my trip. I work on saving towards that monetary goal. Part of my salary I invest in stocks, mutual funds and variable insurance. This helps me gain better returns and make enough money for the trip.
- Squeeze in extra vacation time with long weekends and holidays. This is something we get a lot of in the Philippines so it’s best to take advantage of those when planning to travel. Do take note that for some destinations, travel becomes more expensive during peak seasons which fall on long weekends and holidays. The best way to work around this is to use your vacation leave a few days before or after the said long vacation so you have more time for your trip by sandwiching the holidays in between your regular leaves plus saving on flights if you take them on weekdays.
- Take advantage of business travel. When either my husband or I travel for business, we use it to plan a trip. I usually join him by the tail-end of his training or I extend my return flight for a day or two. For instance, when my husband went to Germany for a two-week training, he asked that his return flight be rerouted to Paris and 6 days later than the original business trip itinerary. I flew to Germany two days before his training ended and we crossed over to Rome and Paris on vacation. Of course, I had to get our visas and pay our own way but we saved a ton on my husband’s flights and the hotel in Germany. We did the same in Boracay where I set a training session for one of the staff members for 4 days and added a day for rest. My hubby and my kid flew in with me. For both trips, there was no added cost to our respective companies as they already paid for our flights and hotels.
- Go on staycation and weekend warrior mode. Travel and vacation can be done locally and even within short periods of time. Enjoy your weekends, there’s a lot of things you can do with just two days if you do your research.
- Find a work around to getting more paid leaves. Yes, it’s possible. In the company I work for, certain levels of employees can get Compensatory Time Off instead of overtime pay. We also allow offsetting (ie if you work the night shift even if you do it from home to finish a task, you can take the day shift off. We came out with a loyalty vacation leave bonus where employees get an additional day off for every year of service. That’s capped to a maximum of 5 additional days though, but still works for me!
- Know you priorities and set boundaries. This is really more for your peace of mind when you’re out on vacation. If travel is your priority, then by all means, do it. You need to be able to turn off work and not feel guilty about going on leave if you seriously want to travel while working full time.