One of the questions I get a lot if how we are able to travel so often. Both my husband and I have full time jobs with limited vacation days but we make it work coupled with holidays and personal time off. Here is how we are able to squeeze in an average of 6 trips a year even while working full time.
Use Paid Holiday’s To Your Advantage
If you are working in a FT position, depending on your field, you most likely get at least 6 paid holiday’s and some people get more. As a great way to use less of those precious vacation days, I always try to include one holiday in our trips. Wait, isn’t traveling during holiday’s more expensive? It can be but that’s typically only if you are leaving on a Friday after work and traveling back home on the Monday of the holiday for holidays like Memorial Day or Labor Day. When we traveled to Cuba during Labor Day, we left the Friday morning before the holiday and came back on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, our tickets only cost us $200RT and for a 5 day vacation we only used 2 vacation days. If you travel the week of Thanksgiving to a destination outside of the United States and you are one of the lucky people who get both Thanksgiving and the day after off you can go on a 7-8 day vacation and only use 3 vacation days. Depart Friday after work or Saturday morning and return Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. Even so close to Thanksgiving today on October 17th I was able to find a $500RT non-stop flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona for 11/18-11/25. Use Skyscanner to search the cheapest place to travel to from your home airport during specific dates. They even have an app to make finding cheap flights easy, you can download it here.
Remember Vacations Don’t Have to Be Long
You don’t have to go somewhere extremely far or stay a really long time, especially when traveling closer to home. If you get Martin Luther King, Presidents, Memorial, and/or Labor Day off those are four 3 day weekends that you can take the Friday prior to or Tuesday after off to have a 4 day weekend. There are tons of cities you can explore in 4 days. If get the standard two weeks vacation and you did that for all of those holidays you would have only used 4 days and still have 6 vacation days left to go on one longer vacation for the year. That’s 5 trips in one year and you still have other potential holidays like 4th of July, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and NYE to take advantage of!
Extend A Work Trip
Do you get to travel for work? If your job is already paying for you to fly somewhere during the week see if you are able to extend your return date to the weekend or fly in earlier. Most job are okay with this as long as switching the dates isn't a significant cost difference in the plane ticket and you understand you will have to cover your own expenses during your extra days including hotel.
Volunteer for Extra Days Off
While this isn’t an option at every job I know it is at some. My company has a global volunteer day where every office we have does a service project on the same Saturday, if you volunteer you receive 1 extra day of PTO. I used the day I earned for our trip to Aruba so I could have the day before 4th of July off and make it a 4 day weekend.
Some companies also offer employees up to 8hrs of paid time off to volunteer for a project on their own time during normal business hours. Talk to your benefits department on the parameters of this and if your volunteer hours have to be in your home town. If not you may be able to incorporate a service day on your vacation and not have that day count against your vacation days. I’ve volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on vacation before and it was a great feeling to give back to city I was exploring.
Buy Extra Vacation Days
Some companies like American Express (jealous of my friends who work here) allow you to purchase extra vacation days. You decide on the amount of days you'd like and each pay check they will deduct a fixed amount to cover your extra week of vacation. Your job is basically creating a built in savings account for you to be able to take extra week off.
I am not lucky enough to have this option but I have friends who do or can work remotely. A friend of mine recently visited and flew in early Thursday morning, she was able to work all day and then explore my city after work hours. Once Friday at 5PM hit we started our weekend and she didn't have to be just getting on an airplane and losing precious weekend time. If you are traveling somewhere with a time difference use it to your advantage. Visiting Athens from the East Coast? Because of the 7 hour time difference when the work day is starting for you back home at 8 or 9AM it's 3 or 4PM in Athens. You can wake up early local time and can explore a lot in the city before starting your work day in the late afternoon, early evening.
Breakdown of Our Vacation Days
My husband and I have different amounts of vacations days which means we don't always go on every trip together. I get a total of 17 days, plus 9 paid holidays, 1 floating holiday, and if I participate in my companies volunteer day I get an extra vacation day for a total of 28 days per year to use for travel. My husband gets 13 days, 2 floating holidays, and 8 paid holidays for a total of 23 days per year to use for travel. Here is how we spent our days in 2017:
Thailand: February 3rd-12th- 8 day vacation taking 5 vacation days off of work (departed after work on the 3rd)
Copenhagen: May 24 -29th- 5 day vacation only taking 2 vacation days and using 1 paid holiday (departed after work on the 24th)
Aruba: July 1-4th- 4 day vacation, taking 1 vacation day and using 1 paid holiday
Amsterdam: August 6-13th- 7 day vacation taking 5 vacation days
Cuba: September 1-4th- 4 day vacation, taking 1 vacation day and using 1 paid holiday
Western Europe: November 4th-12th- 8 day vacation using 3 vacation days and 1 floating holiday and 1 extra day earned for volunteering.
In 2017 we were blessed to go on 6 vacations; we used 17 vacation days, 3 paid holidays, 1 floating holiday, and 1 extra day earned for volunteering.
We work too hard not to enjoy ourselves, how are you managing to travel while also working full time?