12 tips for travelling more while working full-time!

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The announcement that we both work full time finance jobs is often met with disbelief. ‘It’s like you’re always on holiday’ is the most popular response.  But work full time we do. Dave is an actuary (he loves exams and prices insurance policies!) and I’m a consultant (I like to analyze and consult!). We love our jobs but we still need to see the world. Yep, we NEED to!

If there’s one thing life has taught us it is that it’s short, precious and for living right now. We believe it’s possible to excel at our careers and travel the world and do both at the same time. We’ve had to figure out a way to balance our jobs with our desire to travel and last year we clocked up over 70,000 miles and visited 13 countries in Asia, the Middle East, North America and Europe. Here’s how we manage to travel as much as possible while working full time!

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1 | Really think about how much time off you have

They might be entirely obvious but weekends are hugely important when it comes to travel plans. 52 weekends a year equals 104 days off. Combine this with around 10 days of public holidays and you’re at 114 days off work. Now add on vacation days and that’s almost one third of the year free to travel.  Yep, you heard that right. Almost one third of the year. Who says you can’t see the world with one third of the year free?!

Lots of time to see all of this!

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2 | Public holidays on a weekend are a bonus

Whoever invented public holidays on a Monday or Friday deserves an award! Flights and hotels tend to be a little pricier around these peak vacation times (check out our tips on how to save money on hotel stays) but it’s worth it for the extra day to travel. This year’s public holiday allowance has us taking long weekends in Barcelona, Berlin and Krakow and last year we visited Paris and Athens on bank holiday weekends. The extra day gives us plenty of time to relax and enjoy our destination. Win, win!

Athens on a gorgeous long weekend:

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3 | Combine weekends, public holidays and annual leave days for longer trips

Most of our long trips take advantage of multiple weekends,  public holidays and annual leave days to give us the maximum possible time off. Take the week of Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter for example. We book our trips to include the two weekends and two public holidays around these dates. 9 days holidays for the price 3? That’s what I’d call efficient!

Every year my lovely mum and I jet off somewhere exotic and, knowing she’d be a huge fan, this year we had our hearts set on Vietnam. It’s a 15 hour indirect flight from Dublin and I only had 4 days annual leave left. How was that going to work? Although Easter trips cost a little more it was worth it for us for the two free days public holidays we could use to extend our trip by two days. So we booked a Friday evening flight with our return 10 days later on Easter Monday. 10 days in Vietnam for 4 days annual leave? We couldn’t resist and had an absolute blast!

10 days, 3 cities and 3 UNESCO sites!

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4 | Don’t shy away from long haul flights on shorter trips

There are loads of great airlines and prices are competitive meaning there’s no reason to shy away from a longer flight for a short trip. Our attitude is once you are on the plane, you are on the plane! Who cares if it’s for one hour or 10. If we want to fly to the US we make it happen over a long weekend or if we fancy Asia, who cares if we only have a week! We don’t limit ourselves by flight time, after all what’s a little jet lag in return for an incredible trip?

We’ll go anywhere!

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5 | Fly smart: every second counts!

With limited time to explore a destination flight times are hugely important. Grab a late evening Friday and Sunday night flight on a short weekend jaunt and you have two full days to have fun. Better still, if your office is close to a city, take the dawn flight back to work for an extra night of fun!

Determined to make it to Morocco last year we opted for an after work flight on Wednesday evening and returned home last thing on Sunday night. 4 days was plenty of time to explore Marrakesh and a little of Morocco and we only used 2 days vacation. Good work!

Lunch in Dublin, dinner in Marrakesh!

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A round of golf in the lounge before work!

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6 | Rent a Car and see as much of a destination as possible

To make the absolute most of our time in a new location we often rent cars and take off on crazy road trips! On our long weekend in Marrakesh we hit the road and explored the snow capped Atlas mountains and the beautiful world heritage town of Essaouira on our own schedule.  If you get a good deal on car rental these DIY trips usually cost much, much less than their organised counterparts and, if you’re determined, set the alarm early and share the driving you can see an incredible amount in a limited time. Make sure to pick up an international driving licence for your travels.

Essaouira and Game of Thrones fun on our Marrakesh road trip!

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OK so maybe we should have checked the weather before we drove into the Atlas mountains, the flash floods were not the most relaxing part of our trip that’s for sure!!

Road trippin in Marrakesh! 
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7 | Move around

Trains, planes, cars, boats and buses… we often move around various cities when we’re in a country even if our time is limited. During our 10 days in Vietnam we managed to see Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An and Hue and squeezed in 3 UNESCO world heritage sites and a full moon festival along the way through a combination of domestic flights and private cars. We chilled out and caught up on some sleep while the pilots and drivers took care of us and we managed to see way more of the country than we bargained for in 10 days!

Trains in South East Asia rock!

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8 | Use Layovers

Long layovers in airports are inevitable on some trips but we just see that as free bonus time in a different country! We’ve popped into Zurich rather than sit in the airport and we drove down to Stonehenge when we had some time to spare at London Gatwick. Time is travel in our eyes!!

Airport or Stonehenge?! We know which one we’d choose!

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9 | Staycations

Don’t forget about the beautiful sights and surroundings of your own country. We’re lucky enough to call the incredibly beautiful Ireland home (check out these pics if you don’t believe me!) and, when we don’t have time to fly away, we get in the car and drive somewhere beautiful. Bliss!

Nothing to see here?! Staycations are awesome!

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10 | Work remotely if you can

Depending on the nature of your job and the culture of the company it’s often possible to work remotely ensuring not a second of travel time is wasted! It’s possible to work in airports, on planes and anywhere else with wi-fi!

In flight blog working!

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11 | Extend work trips

Travelling for work is all part of the job so if you’ve made it to an enticing destination wrap around a few vacation days or a weekend to give you some time to explore properly. You’re already there so you might as well make the most of it.

With Dave in France for a work trip last year he surprised me with an invite to meet him in Paris for the weekend before he flew home. I couldn’t resist a winter wonderland of Christmas markets, museums, Notre Dam and the Eiffel Tour and agreed to a French rendezvous in an instant. Oh là là!

Nutella crepes at the Christmas markets in Paris!

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12 | Take a career break or a sabbatical 

If all this isn’t enough and you want to dedicate a significant amount of time to travel, check if your employer offers a career break. Lots of employers value the benefits of employees taking an extended break and allow up to a year out of the office. If you fancy  some long term travelling, don’t underestimate the security and benefits of having a guaranteed job when you return. This is especially important if you love your job and company.

If all else fails, take a sabbatical. We did it once and luckily for us, we ended up in awesome roles in great companies but it’s a big risk so weigh up your options carefully.

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So there you have it, our 12 tips for seeing as much of the world as possible while working full time. For the record, in 2013 we staycationed in Ireland and visited Greece, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Istanbul, the US, Thailand, Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Malta. While working full time of course!

Have you any tips for getting the most out of travel time? Let us know in the comments!

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28 thoughts on “12 tips for travelling more while working full-time!”

  1. Definitely! Using layover time to escape an airport is one of our favorite tricks…we do it whenever we can.

    Did you know that Turkish Airlines offers its passengers a free tour of Istanbul if they have a daytime layover of more than 6 hours? Or that IcelandAir will let you stay in the country for up to 7 days at no extra fee? We’re always on the lookout for freebies like that.

    • Haha that is most definitely not a crepe! All the nutella must have gone straight to my head! Waffles under the Eiffel Tower it is!

  2. That’s OK. Nutella makes everyone crazy! 😉

    Love these tips and your ‘the glass is 1/2 full attitude’!! That is my all time favorite attitude and what a great way to see the world. I traveled like you do before the kids. Now, we have to go a bit slower so they can savor the sites. They are getting older so I have a feeling we’ll be ramping up our pace soon!

    Thanks for the informative post.

  3. yay, great tips for a full/time worker like me! Not everyone needs to be a “wanderer nomad” like most travel bloggers almost demand you should be! 😛

    I tend to follow many of these tips, except for the long haul flights. I need to start booking longer flights even when I only have a week available.
    Although I agree with everything, I think at least once in a while it’s good to have longer trips to slow travel. That’s what I’m planning to do anyway. More and more I rather see less and live more the place than do a rally of the sights.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks Bruno! Totally agree that it’s also important to take longer trips to try and experience as much as possible of a destination – we take one two week trip every year, last year we went to Jordan and Israel, but would love to spend longer!

  4. You sum it all up great! A lot of what I try to do. I go for one big 1-2 week trip a year and then lots of smaller one’s. I’m especially a fan of adding a day or two of your own onto work trip. I’ve already done Monterey and will be doing San Diego next month. A total of 11 days of travel and will only be taking two days off to do it all. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Megan, really pleased you liked the post! Love that you made 11 days travel out of 2 days off, definitely our kind of thinking 🙂 Have a great time in San Diego!

  5. I could not agree more! It is possible to travel even if you work full time! We do work full time and travel as much as we can, extending our leave to maximum. This year we have visited Poland and did our sailing training, I went to Italy for a long weekend with my sister (Bologna and Venice), this long weekend in August we are going for a crazy trip to Scotland, then Greece in September, Spain for two weeks – with a rented car to see as much as we can in October and Berlin in December – who said you cannot travel and work full time? I am not even counting our weekends trips around the UK 🙂

    • Monika so glad to hear you have been able to make it work for you too! Love your travel plans, they sound as crazy as our own! It’s definitely possible to see the world in vacation time! We work hard and play hard and make it work!

      Elaine 🙂

  6. This is a great post. I definitely agree with you – take advantage of every last little holiday day you possibly can! You’d surprise yourself in what you can get done or see in 7 – 10 days!

  7. Some great advice! I’m originally from Australia (so it’s little far for a casual weekend overseas trip), but have relocated to Spain so I can have it all – a great, full time job AND amazing travel within reach. Sometimes becoming an expat is also a brilliant way to do it!

    • Fab Danika, I must add moving country to the tips – didn’t think of it but Europe is such a good move for the holiday allowance! Spain is the perfect spot, we’re in Dublin so still relying on flights, I would love if trains were an option!


  8. Elaine, it’s so cool to read what you are doing on a full-time work schedule. Husband and I are moving to Germany next year and we are looking forward to travel-hopping our way around Europe on the weekends.

    It’s inspiring to read how you juggle your passions for your jobs and your travel addiction and reading your post shows me how much is possible, if you set your mind to it 🙂

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more! I hear the same thing as my boyfriend and I are always on a trip or planning our next one yet we both work full time. I do have the benefit of 4 weeks vacation plus 10 company holidays a year which is pretty darn good for the United States, but even with that we still have to plan to make the most out of them.

    Business trips are also an amazing bonus. I spent 5 weeks in 2015 in Europe for business and worked that in to a weekend in each of Bath, Berlin, Paris, Hamburg, and two weekends in London. Planning and seizing opportunities when they arise are key.

    In March we’ll be taking 8 days to visit your country and I am SO excited. I’ve wanted to visit Ireland for years.

  10. An amazing article!! I’d been planning on travelling this year, but I’ve just been offered a work opportunity I can’t turn down! I was getting myself a bit bummed out about it choosing between travel and career, but I’m totally going to take your advice and do BOTH! Thank you!!!
    Nia xx

  11. This is totally the boat I’m in. Great tips. I live in Canada and never really considered travelling overseas for less than two weeks, but perhaps now is the time to try!

  12. I totally agree with your tip about using bank holidays to your advantage! I also work full-time in the UK, for a local government organisation where I get 1 flexi day every four weeks (providing I’ve work the extra hours in advance). At the beginning of each year I write out all the dates for the beginning and end of our four-week flexi periods, so that, if I take a Friday at the end of a flexi period and a Monday at the beginning of one, I get a four-day weekend. Tag that on to a bank holiday weekend and I get a five-day weekend. Tag it on to Easter and I get 6 days. It’s all about planning around those all important bank holidays and flexi days 🙂

  13. Great post and I am in the same situation. Working full time (in the stressful AF medical field) and traveling every free second. Love your tips. It’s all possible if you really want it to happen!

  14. Great suggestions! I work part-time, plus I write my PhD thesis (whenever I’m not working), so it can be very hard to make enough time as there is always a deadline coming up. I make sure to plan well ahead, i.e. plan a trip, save money, book early enough. Plus, I look out for cool conferences so that I could combine uni work with seeing new places.

  15. So agree with all of this. I thought we travel a lot for full-time workers, but WOW you guys really knock us out of the park! Great job putting this together – you’ve really summed everything up into one. And can’t agree more with Staycations. You’re in Ireland, we’re in England. Both beautiful places with so much to offer – we’ve actually left the country less this year because we’re working on seeing more of the UK. It’s crazy how much “travel” you can do without even leaving!


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