17 Best Tips on How to Travel More With a Full Time Job
Okay, we have all heard the spiel, quit your job and travel the world full time. But, what if we enjoy our careers and don’t want to quit our full time jobs. Is it possible to travel while working full time? I am here to tell you that if I can do it, you can too, and yes, I am sure you have heard that one before too.
However, I think I can help you travel more. Keep reading, and I will share my experiences with how to travel with a full time job, prevent burnout, and tips to planning last minute travel without paying too much.
What Gives Me the Right to Give This Advice
I completely understand when you’re thinking: what gives her the right and experience to be writing about this topic? So a little bit about me, before we get into my helpful tips on how to travel with a full time job.
I am a Registered Nurse and work at a pediatric hospital in the operating room. I work odd hours, long shifts, get my schedule last minute, and the days I work change with every new schedule. Also, did I mention I am married to someone else who works in medicine? He works an opposite schedule as me, long hours, weekends, and takes call shifts.
For us to travel together, it takes a lot of flexibility, last-minute planning, and a couple of tricks that I have learned along the way. This list of how to travel more with a full time job is for my people who don’t work in tech and can’t work remotely around the world.
17 Tips on How to Travel With a Full Time Job
1. Plan Your Travel Calendar Out in Advance
The first thing that we do at the beginning of the year is to discuss our travel plans. We already know that I have three weeks of paid vacation and one week unpaid. We like to save that time for any big trips to locations that require a week or more of travel.
After we decide on those big vacations, the rest of the year is for our last-minute weekend trips. Setting up your travel calendar in advance helps you prioritize your vacation time and keep organized.
2. Travel During Off-Season
My favorite time of year to travel abroad is in October because it’s shoulder season! October is typically the start of most destinations off-season. Traveling during this time of year, you will find lower rates, fewer tourists, the ability to book last minute, and availability at some of the top accommodations you would usually need to book a year in advance.
I select my weeks of vacation during the off-season because many of my co-workers prefer to have the time off during the summer or around the holidays. Also, this works out great for me because there is a lot of time available, and I will be able to schedule off for a week or even more to travel.
3. Travel to Off the Beaten Path Locations
We all have our bucket list and must travel destinations. But why not combine these classic and popular tourist destinations with something a little out of the ordinary?
You don’t have to travel far or to a different country to find them either. If you take the extra time to look, you can discover off-the-beaten-path travel in all the hottest tourist destinations.
Traveling off the beaten path is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the local culture, and it also can help you travel more as well. You will get more bang for your buck. These less-traveled locations will have fewer tourists. So you won’t see the inflation of prices for entry fees and accommodations.
4. Take Shorter Trips
When you work a full-time job and only have a week of vacation, sometimes you need to take shorter trips. Who wouldn’t want to take a month off and travel the globe? However, with a full-time job, it is sometimes not possible.
Visiting a new destination for a couple of days or a week is better than not going at all. Right?
An example of this was when I tacked on a trip to Iceland when visiting the east coast for my best friend’s wedding. Is it the ideal way to travel? Not exactly, but I got to watch one of my best friends get married. And I also got five incredible days exploring Iceland. I don’t regret it one bit.
This point brings me to my next tip. Maximize your day when traveling.
5. Maximize Your Day When Traveling
I know every person has a different opinion on what is considered a vacation. Some people prefer to relax, while others like to stay active and do and see as much as possible. I am for doing a little bit of both and soaking in as much as a destination has to offer.
When you are traveling on limited time, here are a few simple tips you can do to maximize your day:
- Plan your itinerary in advance and prioritze what you want do
- Save time by visiting the more popular attractions at opening time
- Purchase skip the line tickets in advance
- Wake up early when you can and start your day
6. Book Nonstop Flights or Limit Your Layovers
A huge time saver when traveling is limiting your flight time. I always try to book nonstop flights when I can, and if I have to book a flight with a layover, I make sure that the layover is not more than a couple of hours.
With that being said, my number one tip with booking a flight with a layover is: Never book a flight with a layover less than an hour. It may save you time, but that’s if everything goes right.
Flight delays happen often, especially when flying internationally. I have learned this tip the hard way too many times. They will not wait for you. Even if it’s with the same airline, if your flight is running a little late, they could leave without you.
And then you lose an entire day or more of travel. Also, you want to give yourself enough time to get through customs (if applicable) and to your next terminal with enough time.
Nonstop flights tend to be more expensive. However, below I provide some tips on saving money for booking flights.
7. Travel Solo
Personally, traveling solo has really been normalized the last couple of years. Many people are encouraging others to bite the bullet and book their first solo trip.
Traveling solo will absolutely help you travel more because you are booking your trip based on your travel time, and you don’t have to worry about other people’s work schedules. Also, you are not waiting around for your friends to have to free week or weekend to travel with you.
You can always start small and work your way up to an international trip. There are many great travel bloggers out there that only travel solo. They give a ton of helpful advice on booking your first solo trip, ways to stay safe, and more.
8. Travel the US, to Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, & More with Southwest
Maybe it’s me, but I think Southwest Airlines is so underrated. Southwest goes above and beyond for its customers. They dish out loads of discounts throughout the year and provide plenty of opportunities to fly entirely free! It doesn’t get better than that.
Free flights make it pretty hard to say no to a trip-right? Discover 4 different ways to fly Southwest Airlines for free!
9. Plan Travel Ahead on Three Day Weekends
We have the same three-day weekends on national holidays every year. Why not, plan a long weekend trip in advance? There are plenty of awesome destinations that you can plan a quick trip to. A favorite of mine in California is Palm Springs. The perfect getaway for relaxing, hiking, warm weather, and lots of sunshine.
Since it is traveling during a holiday, make sure to book flights and accommodations as soon as you can to get the best price.
10. Be Flexible When Traveling
What allows my husband and I to travel as much as we do is that we have become flexible travelers. Since we can’t always be flexible with our dates, we have to be flexible everywhere else.
This means booking the red-eye that we might not want to, going with the flow, making plans, but if they don’t work, not be so hard on yourself. Being a flexible traveler is absolutely necessary if you desire to plan last-minute trips or weekend getaways.
11. Book a Red-Eye Flight
I know just even thinking about flying an overnight flight makes me tired and stressed. The older I get, the harder it is to fly red-eye. However, the travel time it saves is so worth it.
I fly a lot of red eyes from San Francisco to my hometown of Philadelphia for a quick weekend trip. It’s not the best experience, but it’s sometimes the only opportunity I get to spend time with my family.
Besides getting a little extra time at your destination, red-eye flights tend to be cheaper, which is a great bonus.
Tips to surviving a red-eye flight:
- Dress warm- do you ever notice how freezing red eye flights are?
- Stay hydrated, you will need it to get through the next day
- Bring a sleep mask, ear plugs, and comfortable pillow
- Upgrade to a seat with extra legroom
- Bring a sleep aid: ZzzQuil, sleepytime tea, melatonin, whatever works best for you and your body
12. Extend Your Weekend Trip
Extending your weekend by a day or half-day can help you travel more with a full time job. Every work field is different in how you can extend your weekend to get some extra time off for a trip. Some ideas are to take a half-day at the office, switch shifts with a co-worker, or work from home.
13. Work From Home
This tip doesn’t work for everybody, including myself. I could never work from home as an operating room nurse. However, one of the things we have learned these past two years is that many people can do their job productively from home.
If you are getting that travel itch, but don’t have the time off from work, ask about working from home for a couple of days. Or hey, even a week or more! Just don’t forget to make sure your destination that you are planning to go to has decent wifi.
14. Take a Personal Day AKA Call Out of Work
Honestly, we work hard at our full-time jobs. We all deserve a personal day every once in a while. If that means calling out of work to get a day more of vacation, so be it! Obviously, don’t make it a habit, but if you have the extra sick time, I say go for it.
15. Work Trips or Tag Along on Someone Else’s Work Trip
Work trips are a great way to travel more with a full-time job. Depending on your occupation or the destination of your work trip, they could pay for accommodations, flight, meals, or maybe nothing.
Regardless, work trips are still the perfect excuse and opportunity to travel more. You can even try and add on an extra day or two to extend your vacation.
Tagging along on someone else’s work trips can also be an option for a last-minute weekend getaway. The accommodations are typically already paid for. You just need to book a flight for yourself and show up. My husband has a work trip in Hawaii this summer, and you better believe I will be taking full advantage!
16. Explore Local Destinations
You don’t have to travel far to plan an epic vacation. Planning a trip close to home allows you to travel more and still see some incredible destinations.
Some of my favorite and most memorable vacations are just hopping in the car with our two dogs and going on a road trip. We have found and explored so many hidden gems in California this way. Such as the tufa towers and hot springs in Mono Lake, wine tasting in Paso Robles, and dog-friendly glampsites in northern California.
Other unique ideas to explore and travel locally are:
- Rent an RV
- Go on a sunrise hike
- Glamping or Camping with family or friends
- Travel to a new and closeby destination by train
- Book a hotel in the nearest city to you and feel like a tourist
- Plan a mini staycation in a nearby town or city
17. Take Advantage of Credit Card Points
One of the ways we can travel as much as we do is by using our credit card points and reward programs. If you are not doing it already, I highly suggest opening up a credit card for travel.
Traveling with points is very easy to do, but to really take full advantage of it, it does require a little bit of strategy. I got into detail on how we use credit cards to travel below.
How I Travel Last Minute Without Paying too Much
As we all know, booking last-minute flights or accommodations is not always the cheapest option. With demanding work schedules, many of our vacations are planned last minute. My best advice to avoid spending an arm and a leg on travel is to invest some time learning about credit card points.
We booked our first-class flight to Italy from San Francisco entirely on points. And it felt so good to be sitting in first class, especially knowing that it was basically free. Our two favorites are Chase Preferred & Reserve and Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa.
You have to be strategic when you use each credit card. For example, I book my travel through the Ultimate Rewards on Chase because I get 5x the points. I also use it as my groceries and dining credit card because I get 3x the points. This way, I can quickly rack up points for future travel.
Recently, a huge money saver has been with my Southwest credit card. I achieved the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, so now my husband can fly with me for FREE! It’s insane, and I can’t believe Southwest offers it, but it has been amazing so far.
I suggest applying for the Priority credit card, which is the one that I have. Even though it has one of the highest annual fees, the Priority credit card is the best option out of the consumer credit cards.
It is the only one that gives you an annual travel credit of $75. That travel credit of $75 will pay for the difference in annual fees.
How to Travel With a Full Time Job & Not Get Burned Out
Traveling often with a full-time job is possible, but you need to have a healthy work-life balance. It is crucial in maintaining your sanity and not getting burned out.
I for one did a lot of traveling this last year, I had been on 30 flights, visited 11 states, and had a 3-week international vacation in Italy where we got married. Not to mention the many day trips in the Bay Area and road trips to different parts of California.
None of which was travel for work and I still managed to work my full-time job at the hospital. It’s not for everyone, but I have learned a thing or two about perfecting the weekend warrior lifestyle, preventing burnout, setting priorities, and finding a work-life balance.
Tips to Preventing Burn Out
- Drink Lots of Water:
It is important to increase your water intake the week before your vacation and to keep it up during your trip. It helps prevent headaches and helps with hangovers. Pack a water bottle with you on the plane to remind yourself to keep drinking water!
- Take Your Vitamins:
Strengthen your immune system, the last thing you want after a fun weekend getaway is getting sick. The week leading up to a trip, I sprinkle some vitamin c packets into my water. Also, I will also add magnesium, vitamin d, and zinc to my daily vitamins. Taking your vitamins gives your immune system the added boost to help you bounce back from your trip.
- Get Back into Your Exercise Routine as Soon as Possible:
The first workout after a weekend of eating and drinking whatever you want is always the hardest and most dreaded. However, getting back to your routine will make you feel 100% better.
Or what I do, if I am on a weekend trip where I know I am not going to be getting a lot of exercise, I pack resistance bands. Something small; but makes a big difference in your workout and will help you stay active.
- Eat a Balanced Diet:
I like to live that YOLO lifestyle when I’m traveling. How can you not eat fried food and beignets when visiting New Orleans?
Getting back on track and eating a balanced diet will help keep your energy level high. I do get 3 healthy dinners delivered for the week. It really helps when I have been away all weekend and have not had time to food shop or cook.
Planning Your Next Trip
If you are planning on visiting California check out my guide on 12 Epic Locations in California that look and feel like foreign countries.
In Conclusion: How to Travel With a Full Time Job
As a nurse with a crazy work schedule, these are the tips I have learned on how to travel with a full time job. I hope this post has been helpful and will inspire and encourage you to plan more trips throughout the year.
Since you also believe that you don’t have to quit your day job to live an adventure-filled life of travel, join the TTWT newsletter. Where you’ll find my favorite travel planning tips, the latest posts from TTWT, and lots of other amazing content to help you prepare for your next adventure.