It’s time to finalize your travel plans and ensure that you can actually take time off work every month.
How to travel every month with a full-time job (Part Three)
Step Five: Ask or request time off work and inform coworkers
I suggest making requests in writing to avoid any confusion and/or surprises down the line.
Further, besides asking or requesting time off well before your travel date, I recommend ensuring that it is not a busy time during the year to increase chances that your request will be approved.
Then, consider that you will likely work harder and longer when you are not traveling, especially on days right before and right after your trips.
A tip: Let your team know that you can be reached by email during your vacation
Though this defeats the purpose of a vacation in some ways, consider letting your team know that you will be available in case a task or situation needs your immediate attention. Your manager is more likely to approve regular requests if s/he knows that you are only an email away. Further, checking your work email every 48-72 hours will ensure that you have less information to catch up on and read when you return to the office.
Another tip: Prepare a coverage plan with a coworker
Ask a coworker to cover for you and offer to return the favor when s/he takes a vacation. Prepare an outline of the tasks s/he will undertake in your absence. Share it with your superior and the rest of the team.
Last tip/ Something to keep in mind: Mention your interest in travel to your team and superiors early (and regularly)
When I started my current job, I told my supervisor that travel is one of my interests – I let him know that I would like to visit Senegal and other countries in the region as much as possible. Besides bonding over our shared interest in travel, we have an understanding that I will request time off work once in a while to travel. In turn, I am more comfortable making the requests.
A few more things…
Take advantage of business trips (if applicable)
Personally, I am enjoying the process of planning my trips from start to finish and ensuring that they are 100% leisure trips. That said, if you travel for work, consider extending and using all free or down time during business trips. I shared tips on choosing flights and accommodation as well as advice on what to pack and how to take photos (#ForTheGram)) previously.
Make the most of layovers
By default, I look for a lounge or hotel (Yotel in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E is my guilty pleasure right now) when I have to wait more than 4 hours in between flights. But I recently read Tiese’s (Same Footprints) recap on what she did during a 13-hours layover in Doha, Qatar that inspired me to make the most of upcoming long layovers, especially in cities I’ve never visited like Lisbon. When booking flights with various options for layover time, choose options to explore your transit city and have a multi-destination trip. Take into consideration your ability (or not) to enter the country (ex. is it possible to get a transit visa? Can it be obtained at the airport?), difference in the cost of airfare, the hours when you will be in transit (what will be open? what can you see?) and travel time between the airport and some of the places you’d like to visit.
Take (multi-country or multi-state) road trips
Road trips are a great way to discover multiple places in one trip. A couple of years ago, I traveled through Togo and Benin when my family and I went on a road trip from Accra to Lagos. We visited four countries in less than 24 hours.
Ask for unpaid leave
If all else fails and it is an option at your workplace, ask for unpaid leave to have more flexibility in terms of where to travel, when, how long, for how much, etc. Virginia of The Well-Travelled Postcard, for instance, took a six months sabbatical from work that allowed her to travel and volunteer in Nepal before returning to her job.
The most important takeaway of this series is that frequent travel with a full-time job is possible with strategic and thorough planning. Additionally:
Tips on how to choose the best time(s) to travel
- Consider using all your days of vacation (VD)/ paid time off (PTO) and annual leave
- Make a note of observed holidays in your workplace
- Create long weekends using PTO/VD/annual leave days
- Keep in mind peak travel periods
- Work the day you travel
- Try to switch holidays
- Travel for every public holiday
- Ask if it is possible to work remotely or at another office
- Take advantage of business trips (if applicable)
Tips on how to choose destinations
- Use the difference between peak and off-peak seasons to your advantage (visit popular European summer destinations like Italy in the winter for instance)
- Look up work- or career-related opportunities abroad
- Consider various factors when choosing destinations (distance, weather/ climate,
- Travel locally
- Take (multi-country or multi-state) road trips
- Make the most of layovers
Tips on how to pay for your trips
- Create a travel fund
- Bonus: The Mint app (Thanks for the suggestion, Tiese!)
Tips on how to select transportation to/from your destination and accommodation strategically
- Get credit, airline and hotel rewards cards to buy tickets and pay for hotels with points
- Pick your travel times carefully
- Find out which airlines are part of the same alliance and buy tickets with miles
- Check airline websites directly
Tips on how to ask for/ request time off and inform your coworkers to finalize the planning process
- Make requests in writing to avoid any confusion and/or surprises down the line
- Ask or request time off well before your travel date, ensuring that it is not a busy time during the year
- Let your team know that you can be reached by email while you’re away
- Prepare a coverage plan with a coworker
- Mention your interest in travel to your team and superiors early (and regularly)
- Ask for unpaid leave