How to Travel More Even with a Full-time Job

When you work a full-time job, you are limited on how much paid time off you can take off. For that reason, along with a limited budget, I have created strategies on how to optimize both time and money for your next travel plans.

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Read More: How to Plan a Vacation from Start to Finish

Automate Savings to a Travel Fund

How do you save more money for traveling?

My number one recommendation is to automate your savings! Save for your goals first, then spend what’s leftover. This way you are prioritizing travel in your budget!

We have a separate account called our Travel Fund and every paycheck we deposit a specific amount into that account. 

Toledo, Spain

Plan Ahead of Time

It’s so easy to overlook a holiday weekend. In the past I’ve looked at these holidays as a way to relax a bit more on the weekend, but they are perfect chances for travel. 

However, because long holiday weekends are great chances for travel, they are also a super busy time of the year to fly. So here’s what I recommend instead:

  1. Use your long weekend as part of a longer trip. Whenever I plan a 1-2 week long trip, I always frame it around a long weekend. That way instead of having to use 10 days of PTO, you can use 9. If you do this with all of your trips throughout the year you can save a ton of days of PTO! 

Or 

  1. Use a long weekend for a chance to road trip somewhere locally. I love traveling locally. It’s a more relaxing form of travel, you get to experience your backyard, and you save money in transportation costs. Use the holiday as a way expand the distance you can cover in a weekend. For instance, if normally you would only want to travel about 2 hours from home on a weekend getaway, take this chance to travel 2-4 hours away. 

The other reason why planning ahead of time is so important is because things will come up that make you think you can’t travel. Your work might have several projects going on you feel you can’t step away from. You’re simply tired after a long week and are feeling lazy. Or other people’s agendas take up your free time. 

If you have trips planned ahead of time you are ensuring you prioritize YOU and what’s important to you. 

Read More: Travel Season Recap: Our Top Picks of the Year

Chicago, Illinois

Use Your PTO (Paid Time Off) Wisely

First, USE ALL YOUR PTO!

Luckily, I’ve always worked at workplaces that encourage taking time off, but it really is an earned benefit you should use. You’ve earned your PTO, go enjoy it!

If you need to put aside sick days, do that first

I’ve only worked in workplaces where the PTO was the only bucket so sick days needed to be saved for the future. I typically save 5 days of my total PTO. You may want to save less if you’re not allowed to carry leftover PTO days over to the next year. 

Read More: Unique Travel Destinations in the US and Canada to Visit

Plan the ENTIRE year at once. This might seem overwhelming, especially for those that don’t like planning as much, but here’s whY.

Planning your entire year ensures that you’re remembering events or special occasions in the later half of the year. For example, I know there is a knitting festival in New York I want to attend in October. So I first marked that Friday and Monday of the festival weekend on my calendar. 

By planning the entire year at once, you get to be really strategic with how you use your time. Should you take a weekend here or a plan a week long trip? I like to take at least one trip ever 1-2 months. So when I lay it all out I can make sure I’m being really thoughtful of where I’m using those precious PTO days. 

Planning your entire year also gets you super excited about your travel plans. I love being able to reference my calendar and imagine all of the amazing memories we’re going to make. It’s a great source of joy for anticipation. 

Leave a little wiggle room for spontaneity. If you find a cheap flight or get invited to stay with a friend, you’ll want to have a few days set aside for these opportunities.

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Get in the Right Mindset

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Teddy Roosevelt

I hear a lot of people saying they want to travel more. 

“Oh, I’d love to go to Italy.”

“I really want to take my daughter there.”

“Wouldn’t that be so fun.”

But when it comes to actually planning the trip, budgeting the money, and prioritizing travel, they struggle.

“I don’t have enough time off.”

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I’ve got too much going on right now.” 

If you want to travel more this year, you need to have the right mindset. 

If you have limited time off, use the time you DO have. 

If you have a limited budget, use the budget you DO have. 

If you have too much going on, DO what you can to fit in travel. 

In reality, it might not be feasible to go to Italy, or Africa, or the Antarctic.

But where CAN you go? 

Can you plan a roadtrip in your backyard to make a trip easier to plan? Can you visit friends and family and save money on accommodation? Can you travel around your long weekends to use your time off wisely?

We all have some sort of restrictions on our budget, time, and energy. 

But we need to take advantage of what we DO have.

Cape Breton National Park, Nova Scotia

Simplify Your Trip Planning Process

You don’t have to spend hours researching the perfect destinations or the very best hotel. You also don’t have to compare prices extensively to make sure you’re getting a good deal on the perfect flight.

Just go. 

Find a destination you’re interested in, pick a place to stay, find 3-5 things to do, and go! 

Final Thoughts

I think the biggest reason people don’t travel more is because they are so focused on planning the perfect trip that they don’t take any trip at all.

But here’s the thing. The perfect trip rarely exists. You can’t possibly control every aspect of your trip, especially if you’re flying! So you might as well aim for a decent trip and be wonderfully surprised with how much fun you end up having. 

Some of the best memories of our travels aren’t based on what we did or where we went. 

I remember the hidden gems we found unexpectedly, the funny moments we had getting to our destination, and the people I traveled with. 

So, let go of all of your expectations and just go!