Working Full-Time and Getting Your Travel Fix

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Coming back to work in the US at a full-time corporate job after traveling and working abroad for years was a total 180, to say the least. One of the hardest things to adjust to was the longer hours, and the lack of opportunity (or feeling too burnt out) to hop on a cheap flight for a long weekend away.

And then when I did take a vacation – whether it was chilling out abroad or at home with family – I was still glued to my phone, feeling guilty and overwhelmed and exhausted because I was still expected to check my email as usual. So it was a pretty steep learning curve in terms of time management, and managing expectations on both sides. And now that I’m searching for another job, I have a much better handle on what those red flags look like and what questions to ask to make sure expectations on both sides are aligned.

Find a Job That Works For You 

This seems pretty obvious, but the biggest lesson I learned was how to say no. When I was “asked” to make sure to check my email every morning and evening on vacation, I didn’t push back and as a result my plans completely derailed and I was unable to fully enjoy my time off. Now that I’m back interviewing, I’m taking in the general company culture and will be ready to ask specific questions to see how they will – or won’t – cover my absence once I see about the vacation package. This is just part of being a travel planner.

While you’re also in the early stages of the job, make sure to find out if/when there are times that no one is allowed to take off – this may not otherwise come up at all, and you don’t want it to be an unwelcome surprise.

Also, do a lot of people take vacation at the same time – like the end of August and the week between Christmas and New Year’s – and it’s easier to do the same? Are childless people low-key expected to work during school breaks so the parents can have a more relaxed schedule? Once you get the lay of the land, you can start planning your getaways.

Schedule It Out 

Too many Americans leave vacation time on the table. But you earned those days off–enjoy them!

Stay in the loop for cheap flights and travel opportunities by following sites like Travel Pirates, the Points Guy and Scott’s Travel Hacks to be able to jump at a low-cost flight. Once you have your ticket, request your days off, and build your dream adventure.

Get your vacations approved way in advance if you can – at least until you prove yourself; spontaneity will have to wait. Before going, review with your boss/team that you won’t be reachable, and if you will be, what times they can expect you to be on email. No matter how cut-and-dry your auto-reply is while you’re out of office, they still might think you’re at their beck and call. But as long as you have your bases covered, you’re a lot more likely to actually relax while you’re on vacation.

Make Use of Long Weekends 

Do you have the kind of job that will allow you to work remotely on Fridays? If so, plan an adventure that begins mid-day on Friday, extending through the weekend.

There are always was to incorporate travel into your 9-5. Be creative, think outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to ask for what will help you achieve a great work-life balance!

How do you fit travel into your life? 

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About Author

Maureen always knew she wanted to travel. In college, she studied and traveled through the Caribbean and Central America, and the first time she fell in love was with Mexico City. After graduating, she spent several years teaching EFL in Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia and traveling in every spare moment. She's currently living in Hong Kong, and getting lost while traveling is her main hobby.

2 Comments

  1. Love this! I just started a new job that, unfortunately, has less vacation than the job I left (the benefit being that the new place is a MUCH healthier work environment). So my goal this year is to take advantage of half day Fridays (or squeezing in some 4-10 work weeks) to take some fun long weekend trips.

  2. Maureen St. George on

    Hi Jaime – Congrats on getting a job that’s much better for your quality of life! Take advantage of those long weekends and summer Fridays when you can and let us know where you go!

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