We’ve all heard it before; ‘I quit my job and now I travel the world’, ‘Why you should quit your job today and travel instead’, ‘This girl left her $50,000 salary to travel the world’ and ‘How I get paid to travel and I’m totes living the dream’. Blah Blah Blah. They all sound incredible and we are damn jealous of those who are able to be full-on digital nomads who can jetset across the world… but how many of us can actually do this? How many of us need to be able to travel around a full-time job?
You may be a travel cheerleader who spent months wandering the backpacker trail having the time of your life, but found yourself settling once returning home. Jobs and responsibility can sneak up on you, making you change that life plan that you made when you were young, but it truly doesn’t have to erase travel from your life. Just look at us, we’re doing it!
If you are feeling us, then read on as it is possible to hold a steady 9 – 5 job, a house and a partner but still be able to travel the world! It doesn’t quite have the same glamourous ring to it as ‘I get paid thousands and I never work in an office’ and there is the element of routine which looks so boring compared to someone’s instagramed shots of their laptop on a beach (‘Ahoy! This is my office for the day!’). But sometimes life has responsibilities that make it slightly impossible for you to pursue the dream of being a digital nomad.
1. Don’t neglect those holidays
Having a job means you get paid for taking holiday. Huzzah! But it also has its down side of being restricted. You can’t waltz off with a one-way ticket and expect your boss to smile and throw you a Bon Voyage Party and keep your desk for your return.
Long hours, busy days, running around to meetings and wishing you had four pairs of arms to get all your duties done comes hand-in-hand with a career. You may thrive on the busy-ness, but however you deal with your work life, a holiday is severely paramount. Everyone needs to have a break and to take a chunk of your holiday to sit around at home watching Netflix is not the way to do it.
You may want to lie down for an eternity on your days off, but if you book that flight and get out the country (or even city!) then relaxation will follow. Exploring a new location, switching off, eating delicious food and reading a good book is how we love to spend our holidays. You won’t catch us sitting at home staring at a wall on our holidays!
Don’t neglect your holidays. Make the most of them – you can sleep when you’re dead! Or on the weekends…
2. Save the holiday days for an epic trip
It may be a struggle to plough through months on end to get to a solid slot of holidaying, but when you leave that office on your last day, the excitement of a long awaited trip will reign supreme.
Having a solid two weeks off, or a month like Alex got to have when she tripped over to The Philippinnes, gives you the freedom not to rush. You can leisurely explore, take in your surroundings, melt into the country… And catch a decent tan.
You get to see more of the country and bring back more tales of travels on your return. Buy your colleagues some duty-free chocolate to ease the blow of your serene aura on your return.
3. Be strategic with sporadic days off
Take the odd half day or Friday to extend your weekend break away into something a tad more substantial. Sure, flying on Fridays and Sunday’s are known to be more expensive, but with a steady income perhaps you can afford to do this.
If you need a breather from life and mundane reality, but want to look after the pennies too, take advantage of those airline sales and randomly pick a destination to jet to on the weekend. Keeping an eye on airline newsletters will give spontaneity to your trips and you might find yourself heading to cities you never considered before. Well, if the price is right!
Your weekends don’t have to be on a tight schedule for a trip. Strategically plan your hours off to get the most out of a short break!
4. Synchronize diary plans with friends or partners
We love catching up with friends, family or loved ones in our downtime, but these hang-outs can quickly eat up our days off. Instead of meeting up over a meal or drinks, why not pick a city to meet up in and have a proper catch-up with your partner in crime?
I hadn’t seen my friend Hazel in a billion years, and as it was winter in the UK, we decided to meet up in Prague where at least the city was beautiful in the cold! Food and drink was UBER cheap and it was the perfect setting for two friends to see each other.
Think outside the box and be creative with the time you have.
5. Be a tourist in your own city
It’s so easy to take your city for granted as you pootle about your everyday business. You may ignore the fact that your city constantly has festivals or street parties because they happen every year, you may put off exploring those parks or attractions as they’ve always been there, you may stick to your usual bars/pubs/restaurants as you know they are pretty good at what they do; but take some time to explore alternative sides to your place of residence.
You’ve got your spot on the map but there’s nothing stopping you from taking the effort to explore it better for a weekend. Treat yourself to dinner on the other side of the city, stay in a hotel in the centre to enjoy some R&R, pack the family on a train to wander a neighboring town, research into the next fun free event and indulge in a tour to learn more about your home.
If you don’t have the time to get in a trip abroad, make sure you have taken advantage of adventures closer to home. It’s a pretty simple way to travel around a full-time job!
6. Save that hard earned dollar for fantastic experiences
As you’re working your butt off to earn a steady income, it would be foolish to not save. Make sure you set up a standing order of a certain amount to go into your savings account so you can fund the travels in your spare time.
A lot of our friends (actually Alex included!) are currently saving to get on the property ladder, so we totally understand if this saving is a priority over travel. Who wants to end up with 100 countries under your belt but no roof over your head when you’re 70? Not us.
If you do manage to tuck away some money for trips, there are a ton of things to invest in which will really aid you in travelling. In my opinion, getting a car or a drivers license is pretty important – roadtrips are a great way to break the claustrophobia of staying in a city for a prolonged period. Whether you rent for a weekend or buy your own ride, it can open up options and give you freedom in your schedule. I really do hate how expensive trains are in the UK and sometimes buses just won’t get you from A to B easily.
Look up alternative places to stay that will turn a weekend away into something to write home about. Canopy and Stars is an awesome alternative to Airbnb which predominantly deals with accommodation that is truly unique. Grab a bunch of girlfriends or your family to go stay in a yurt or a treehouse. Spend your time learning to light a fire or exploring the surrounding countryside!
I’d highly recommend checking out adventure experiences too. Recently I went to Bounce Below and Zip Line Caverns in Snowdonia (North Wales) and had a fantastic adrenaline filled weekend away that really felt like a mini-holiday.
7. Organise trips with your work team.
Being surrounded by the same faces 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, means you probably spend more time with fellow employees than your loved ones. It’s a bit of a sad fact but instead of finding it depressing, why not encourage socials that involve exploring new places?
Alex and I are quite lucky as we get on well with our team members, so providing you like your work mates too it can give you the perfect excuse to rally the troops and embark on a team building excursion.
Recently, the senior management team at my work (did I mention I got a promotion recently?) hired a canal boat in the quaint city of Bath, also my hometown, to cruise the waters and take in the sights. It was a rare sunny day and the perfect setting to chat, see some stunning landscapes, try new things (I drove the boat straight into the bank with a lot of swearing) and indulge in a hearty pub lunch.
I had never been on a canal boat before so to try it out with the team made for a pretty cool day out!
8. Remember that travel can be done cheaply
We totally get that for many, travel may be something that you’d love to do but there are bigger things to save for, e.g. A house, further education. If you find it infuriating to read those headlines that scream for you to “go travelling or your life is worthless” then do just ignore them. We find them infuriating as well as its not our reality at this moment in time.
However, remember that there are many budget ways to travel and a lot of travellers do travel on a shoestring to ensure that their dollar stretches and their trip isn’t cut short from frivolous spending. Travel really can help you learn about finances and budgeting as you usually go out into the world with a set amount and that’s what you have to survive on.
You don’t always see the scrimping and saving from a travellers instagram – they’re filtered in more ways than one. You might see us exploring the sights of Prague, but not realise we were on a free walking tour; you might see us sipping cocktails by the beach, but not realise it’s a real cheap happy hour and they’re the only cocktails we’ve had in months; you might see us dressed in pretty dresses, but not realise that we only took hand luggage to save on baggage fees; you might see us floating about in Faro, but not realise that that destination was the most affordable at the time… The options to travelling on the cheap are endless – do check out my in depth guide to travelling on a budget.
9. If switching careers, give yourself a much needed break in between.
If your current job isn’t satisfying you, peaked at the learning it can give you, made you redundant or had you settling for what you could get at the time, perhaps it’s time to look at a career change? It’s not ideal to have to switch jobs but we fully believe that if a job isn’t right for you, then life is too short to plug away at it.
If you happen to get offered a new job, hand in your notice and see if the new job will allow you start a few weeks after your old contract ends. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking a well-deserved break prior to a new job starting!
If you’re not sure which direction to take next, take a risk and quit. Go off and take a break in a new country and the downtime will relax your mind and allow you to make an informed decision about your next step. Taking the time out of the routine will really let you discover what it is you truly want to do and what your values are.
10. A job is just as important as seeing the world
We really try to make travelling fit in around the constraints that a solid everyday job brings. It takes effort to make happen and if you don’t make the effort, it’s very easy to neglect. You can suddenly wake up and realise that a year has passed and you haven’t ventured far, which can be scary and unfulfilling.
You need to remember your priorities, whether it’s to travel, save money or provide for your family. At this moment in time, Alex and I only really need to look after ourselves as we don’t have kids, so to travel freely is still relatively easy to do. Everyone’s situations are unique, but if you highly value travelling then you need to remember to make it happen. Don’t let it pass you by if you are able to do it.
Remember your priorities at all time: a job means expanding your skills, banking experience and learning more about your capabilities. Travelling does all this too but just doesn’t allow you to build that pension for the future or expand your savings account. Living for the moment is pretty darn important, but so does planning ahead when you want to give your kids what your parents were able to give you.
Just remember that everyone has the same amount of hours in their day as Beyoncé and no one had an adventure by staying inside and watching Netflix all the time. Strike that balance between your work life and your adventurous spirit, and make it work for you no matter what your situation is.
All photographs by Sophie Saint