If I hear another 21-year-old, fresh out University proclaim to anyone that will listen ‘You should quit your job and travel the world’ or my favourite ‘I can teach you how to travel’. My eyes will roll so far back inside my head you’ll think I’m the girl from the exorcist.
Yes, it’s easy to travel the world when it’s on your parent’s dime or you have no responsibilities.
But for the rest of us, that’s not the case. We’ve got to haul ass come Monday morning to our 9 to 5 and clock in our 38 hours, or maybe you have kids, a mortgage or elderly parents to take care of just to name a few.
I believe travel can be done in many forms and to travel more doesn’t mean that I must quit my job or throw my responsibilities out the door to do that.
That I can still have a full-time job – which pays for my travels and still travel.
I just need to be very strategic about my travels plans.
So, forget the advice normally given that says you should be flexible with flights, date or be willing to book a flight at any time – this is not practical or realistic if you have a full-time job or children.
Because of my full-time job, I have to be strategic about where and when I travel as I know I only have a limited amount of annual leave per year.
I’ve listed below some tips on how I’ve been able to travel more with a full-time job.
Be strategic with your travel plans & budget
At the start of every year, I look at the calendar year and mark out the specific days I want to travel.
Then I look at the national holidays in the UK for that year and which days they fall on. If the bank holidays fall on a weekend or two consecutive weekends, even better.
I would then book most of my holidays at the start of the year. This means that I’ll be getting more and longer holidays, but using less of my annual leave days.
To travel more means that I’ll have to create a strict travel budget.
Every month I put money in a separate bank account labelled travel funds, that I have specifically for travel.
I use this account to save anywhere from £100 to £300 a month for my travels. This does mean that I’ll have to make sacrifices like cooking on the weekends instead of eating out, nights out or shopping every month. But it does feel good swapping Saturday nights out in Shoreditch for a weekend away to Prague.
I also sign up to air miles’ programmes like British Airways – Avios program where you collect points on flights, hotels, Booking.com and Hotels.com, groceries and even fashion shops (Topshop, ASOS) if these items are brought through the Avios E-store.
You can also collect points on BA’s partner couriers Iberia, Vueling, Flybe and Aer Lingus.
You can then use these collected points to book flights and hotels.
I flew to Prague and Nice in British Airways Business class using some of my Avios (plus £50). For a ticket that would have cost me £300 to £600 for a weekend break.
I also a have a Monzo card that I use when I travel. It’s a brightly coloured orange pre-paid card that will save you a ton on international transactions when you’re travelling. Yes, no more 2% transaction fees while travelling.
The card has a seamless smartphone app and uses MasterCard’s international system to clear payments.
You also receive a notification for each transaction made with the card, which is great when I’m trying to keep an eye on my spending while travelling.
If you are travelling through Europe and not from the UK, then you might want to look into getting a N26 card which is similar to the Monzo card and provides similar services for European travellers.
A lot of people think that travelling more means taking a month to an off year travelling the world.
But for me travelling more means getting in as much travel as possible with my full-time job. This can be a day trip to Oxford or a weekend city break in Prague or the best 20 things to do in Prague.
I plan a few weekend getaways in Europe every two to three months in the year. I find that day trips to smaller cities in Europe by Eurostar can also be a refreshing way of spending a day discovering a new city.
This means I travel anywhere from four to 8 times a year or even more depending on my plans that year.
Combine trips with the bank holidays
I also combine my trips with the UK’s Bank holiday. Taking a 2-day weekend trip on a bank holiday weekend means I get a four-day holiday or taking 8 days off but travelling for 14 days. Which is enough if you’re planning a long-haul flight.
There are 8 bank holidays (including Christmas day) in the UK with most of these dates falling on a Monday or a Friday. Making it ideal for a long weekend city break.
This also means you have 8 days plus your 26 days paid annual leave = 34 days of holiday.
Combine multiple countries in one trip
I’ve been doing this for a few years now and found that it’s amazing for someone like me who has limited time but want to visit as many countries as possible. Like when I interrailed through Europe – visiting 8 countries in 16 days.
I also find that trips covering up to 3 weeks are great for visiting multiple countries that are on the same continent – like when I visited Bangkok for 5 days and then travelled on to the Philippines for 10 days exploring the different islands or doing 3 full weeks in Asia visiting Japan, South Korea and China together.
I also never travel without travel insurance. I get an annual travel insurance that will cover all the destinations that I intend to travel to for that year.
I think this is not said enough. Because I work very hard for the money that I use to pay for my travels. I am very intentional where I travel, meaning I don’t visit places because I see pretty pictures on Instagram.
Which I see a lot of people doing and when they get to these destinations are let down. Because these places don’t live up to the Photoshop version on Instagram.
Yes, Instagram can be used as a reference that makes you aware of a destination but don’t follow it blindly as a guide.
I try to mainly visit the places that I’ve dreamt of visiting since I was a kid. Like seeing a Geisha for the first time on the National Geography channel and then seeing one in an alley in Gion where my heart almost burst with joy.
To watching a documentary about the souks in Morocco. Then sitting overlooking the chaos happening in Jemaa el-Fnaa with a warm glass of mint tea as the call to prayer and smoke from the stalls rose to fill the air.
I didn’t visit Japan, Morocco or any other country because I saw a picture on Instagram. I visited because these were countries I wanted to visit.
I had a connection with them and wanted to learn more about the people, culture and customs of these countries. And because some of these places were not cheap to get to.
I make sure that I absorbed, every sight, sound and smell that I could while in these countries – as I didn’t know when I would be back again.
So, I would advise you to make sure you only visit places that you really want to see and not waste your time and money on hyped up Instagram filtered photos of destinations. If you want to learn more about the realities of long term travel as a digital nomad, then check this post?
I hope these tips help you travel more this years to somewhere you’ve always wanted to see even if it’s just a weekend break in Krakow Poland.