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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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!
A round of golf in the lounge before work!
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!
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!!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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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