I have a full-time job but I want to travel every month this year.
In 2017 I traveled every month. With the exception of my trips to/ in Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, Mexico and the USA, the trips were work-related. I could wait for chances to turn a business trip into a mini-vacation again this year. But I want to take more vacations to see the world and keep my health and wellness in check by maintaining a good work-life balance.
My objective is to travel locally or internationally every month. For this reason, I want to be strategic about where I go, when, how long and for how much. I share my planning technique in this post and the next two.
How To Travel Every Month With a Full-Time Job (Part One)
Step one: Determine when you want to + when you can travel
As full-time employees, (many of us) cannot fly off to exotic destinations on a whim. Traveling requires planning and being aware of 5 things in my opinion:
- How many vacation days (VD) (days of paid time off, annual leave) do you have?
- Are there restrictions on when you can take time off ?
- What public holidays will you observe? (ex. some US holidays like MLK or Columbus Day are not observed in all offices)
- How many (if any) additional VD can you purchase/ request?
- Are there opportunities to work remotely and/or at another office?
When I got the list of observed holidays in 2018, I quickly added it to my Google calendar to determine when to use my VD. I noticed that most holidays are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Since long weekends are the best way to travel internationally as a full-time employee, I highlighted periods when I could use 1-2 VD to start or extend a weekend. For instance, Monday April 2 and Wednesday April 4 are holidays at my workplace. I plan to take Tuesday 3rd off to have a vacation from Saturday 31 to Wednesday 4 — 5 days, 4 nights — using 1 VD.
A tip: Keep in mind peak travel periods
Peak travel periods are usually June-August and around Christmas time. It is more expensive to travel then than in April-May or September-November. Consider saving long/ longer trips for off-peak travel periods.
Another tip: Work the day you travel
If you want to travel to Europe from Africa, remember that flights almost always take off at night. Plan to work the day you travel to save VD.
Yet another tip: Try to switch holidays
Ask superiors if you can switch holidays. In the example I presented earlier, April 2 is Easter Monday. If I wanted Good Friday (March 30) off as well for a 6-day holiday using 1 VD, I would ask to take it as a holiday instead of 4th of July (Note: 4th of July is a Wednesday this year so I would have to use 2 VD to have 5 days off work then).
This tip is for people living in Nigeria: Travel for every public holiday
You are lucky because I do not know other people who get 2 days off for public holidays (!!). Further, FG observes New Year’s Day in January, Women’s Day in March, both Good Friday and Easter Monday in April, Worker’s, Children’s and Democracy Day in May, Independence Day in October, as well as Muslim holidays, Christmas and Boxing Day. That’s 6+ months when you have time off. Instead of sleeping, looking for ram or Christmas rice during public holidays, consider traveling.
Last tip: Work remotely or at another office
Does your role allow you to work remotely or in another office of your company/ organization? Find out or recall times when your workplace is less busy than usual such as the summer. In my opinion those are the best times to ask superiors for permission to work remotely and avoid using VD.
Step two: Determine where you want to + where you can travel
While many travelers advise being flexible, I suggest being practical and choosing appealing destinations as well. Though Algeria is not my preferred travel destination, it makes sense to go there for a quick vacation from Senegal. The same is not true about Guinea Bissau although it is Senegal’s neighboring country. On the other hand, it does not make sense to me to travel 40+ hours total to spend two days in Bali in February-May. I would rather visit in the summer (taking more time off) even if it’s peak season.
A tip: Use the difference between peak and off-peak seasons to your advantage
Regarding peak vs. off-peak seasons: a CNN Travel writer shared how to consider them when you plan vacations. The author proposed going to Thailand or the Philippines during rainy/ monsoon season for instance. It is also suggested to visit winter attractions like the Northern Lights in the summer or autumn/ fall, and popular summer destinations like Italy, Portugal or Spain in the winter.
Another tip: Look up work- or career-related opportunities abroad
Beyond influencers, content creators and bloggers, friends who travel for research, internships, trainings or conferences inspire me to be more proactive about finding ways to travel for personal and professional development.
Yet another tip: Consider various factors when choosing destinations
Create a list of destinations that mixes local, regional and long-distance cities. Organize it based on where you would like to go, when you should go there, and when you can go there.
I made an Excel worksheet in which I wrote destinations with direct flights from Dakar by month based on their climate/ weather at different times of the year. For instance, Paris is not in the column of places to visit in February because I’m not about the winter life right now. It is an option for trips between March and June.
This tip is for people living in Nigeria: Travel locally
Travel does not always require visas and/ or planes. When I lived in Lagos I went to Abeokuta and Abuja. Visit another state. If you want to go abroad for a few days, consider Ghana, Togo, Benin or Cameroon. If you haven’t already, check what Amarachi of Travel with a Pen has to say about traveling (on a budget) in Nigeria and Africa with a Nigerian passport.
Know the number of vacation days (days of annual leave/ paid time off) you have at work and the holidays that your employer observes. Be flexible but also practical and realistic about the places you want to visit. Lastly, be sure to come back for parts two and three next week!
How often did you travel last year? When and where did you go?
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Post updated on: January 9, 2017