I have a real job. Not a job I love and not the job I imagined myself doing when I was growing up, but a real job. I work as a Learning & Development Administrator for a construction company. Which requires great organisational skills, time management skills and the ability to deal with
morons awkward people. None of which are particularly useful in progressing a career in writing or travel or both. But. It pays the bills. Actually, it allows us to eat, drink, travel and be merry whilst Mr Fletche pays the bills.
And whilst we can have pie-in-the-sky talks about giving up our day jobs and travelling the world – something which is closer to reality than ever with the upcoming selling of our house and stepping aside from the property ladder for a while, one of the reasons that we love to travel is that it’s a break from the norm. It gets us away from the day job. Travelling is still a holiday whether we’re lying on a beach, or exploring a new city, or taking a staycation, or road-tripping around North America. In between, we come back and do normal mundane things, and save for and plan for and dream about our next break. So here are 9 tips on how to make the full-time-job/as-much-travel-as-possible balance work.
Take all of your annual leave and make the most of every single day
I have 26 days annual leave, with the option to buy three additional days, plus Bank Holidays. And I try to maximise every one of those days where I can. It’s rare now that I take a day off work for reasons other than holidays. If I have appointments or any reason that I may have to be out of work then I’ll try and schedule them at the start or end of the day, and make up any hours missed. My company does have an enforced shutdown at Christmas, which means I have to take 7 days annual leave out of my allowance; but this year we tried to make the most of it by booking our January getaway in Wales and hopefully this is a tradition we’ll continue.
Pick “unpopular” times to travel
If your colleagues have families, chances are that they will request time off around the school holidays. Use this to your advantage if you can by taking holidays outside of these times. We avoid late July and August like the plague, preferring to take local day trips and be more of a homebody during these months and instead taking our main holidays in June or later on in the year after the school year has started. This means we can often take advantage of lower prices too!
Take as many weekend mini-trips and staycations as possible
Pack a bag on Thursday night, put in a full day at work on a Friday and then hit the road (or rail or plane)! Choose a destination no more than a couple of hours away and you can be in the bar sipping cocktails in another town or city at about the time you’d normally be slipping into your PJs to watch Corrie. Plan your return for late afternoon on Sunday and you’ll have a good day and a half to explore your destination. And if you’re really dedicated to maximising your time, you could even plan a return for early Monday morning and hotfoot it straight to the office!
Take time off around Bank Holidays
We have eight official bank holidays in the UK, although nowadays there are still a lot of businesses which remain open. If you’re lucky enough to have these days off, try stringing an annual leave day on one or both sides to create a longer break. So far this year we’ve visited Dorset and Scotland on Bank Holiday weekends, and we’ve planned to do the same for our August Rotterdam trip – in fact, this is only a half-day off for me as I work right next to Birmingham airport! And at times some of the “floating” Bank Holidays fall so closely together that you’re able to get a good chunk of holiday time whilst only taking three or four annual leave days.
Treat your own town, city or county as a holiday destination
For me this is one of the best tips for travelling when not travelling. Follow local social media accounts on Twitter or Facebook and make a list of any events which are coming up which might interest you. We love food, drink and musical festivals so we take note of these and schedule them into our plans. Or how about visiting your local town or city with the eye of a tourist? Plan your day the same way you would if you were visiting somewhere less familiar…look for reviews or blogger recommendations of places to stop for brunch, coffee or cocktails, spend time people watching at a central square or park, visit a museum or gallery. There’s always something new to discover – how about spending a day doing five things you’ve never done before in your hometown?
Switch off from your phone, emails and internet
When you spend all day every day looking at a computer screen, or on the phone, it’s a great idea to sometimes just have a digital detox, even if it’s just for an hour or two. And especially make sure you leave the office behind when you put your Out of Office on – don’t check work emails or worry about anything you may be leaving undone. This is a useful tip for pretty much all of the time, but particularly if you’ve planned some time away. Work mode off, holiday mode on!
On the flipside though – can you work remotely?
If you have a job that is flexible or doesn’t require you to be in the office, are you able to carry out certain tasks remotely which mean that you can travel and work at the same time? Although it’s difficult for me to work outside of the office at the moment, there have been occasions where I have been able to work on reports or on some of our eLearning platforms from home and save annual leave time. Imagine being able to sit on a balcony in the sunshine, sipping a coffee, whilst answering work emails? Of course, this does rely on some discipline and the ability to set some of your travel time aside for work!
Check your employer’s policy regarding unpaid leave and sabbaticals
Check with your company what rules there are regarding taking unpaid leave. If you’re requesting time off over and above your leave allowance then your employer is not obliged to pay you, and they do have the right to refuse your request, particularly if your absence will have a negative impact on your job. Similarly, a career break or sabbatical is likely to have a resourcing impact and you will often be required to put a case forward as to the benefits that such a break would provide both you and your employer in the long-run. Your line manager or Human Resources department should be able to provide further detail and assistance if this is a route that you would like to explore.
Be prepared to be spontaneous
Everyone know’s I’m a planner, but I’m also not averse to the odd “let’s-go-here-today” suggestion thrown at me by Mr Fletche. Sometimes the best trips or nights out happen when you have no expectations. It’s so easy to turn down a Sunday invitation knowing you have to be up-and-at-em early on a Monday morning but you might be missing out on something amazing so be prepared to take a chance on an invite made on a whim!
Do you fit travel around a full-time job? Are there any other tips or tricks you can share? Let me know in the comments below!