How to travel the world and keep your day job
In recent months, I have noticed more and more Facebook posts hinting at me to “quit my job and travel the world.” Is the Facebook algorithm getting so sophisticated that it’s tapping into my anxiety caused by wanderlust?
I’ve read most of these posts and they often leave me with a feeling of restlessness. Do I really love my job? Am I happy being financially stable? Would I rather be wondering where my next meal will come from in another country?
The conflict inside my brain gets to be so much that I browse Expedia for fun, trying to see what flight will take me to my next destination.
These questions of “happiness” have been swirling around in my head for months, until I visited Yosemite National Park a few weeks ago. It was a trip I had planned for months. I put the flight on a credit card, paid it off during the months prior to the trip and met some almost strangers at the airport to embark on our four-day journey.
I could spend this blog post writing about my amazing trip, how I hiked a total of 24 miles up to one of the tallest peaks in the park and back, how I rafted through Yosemite Valley or how I hula hooped in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and met some awesome people who all love nature as much as I do. But that would be boring, and somewhat boastful. What I did learn from my first trip out West is that travel is what you make of it, and that you can travel the world and still have an 8 to 5 job that you love.
Instead, I want to put a sense of ease into the minds of folks like me. Those who like to know where their next paycheck is coming from. Those who genuinely like their jobs.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am one of the millennials who still believes a 40-hour work week is quite antiquated, but I can honestly say I go into work every day feeling like I’m making a difference doing something I love. And, after growing up in a low-income household, the steady paycheck is a huge blessing and something I’m very thankful for. On the other hand, at 25 years old, I get antsy. All the time. I have a huge case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I have a travel list a mile long.
What I realized after taking this trip is that having a steady job can give you freedom to visit the destinations you crave while giving you peace of mind about the boring adult stuff like the bills you have to pay.
So here is my personal guide on “How to travel the world while working a 9 to 5.” These tips may not apply to everyone (I’m lucky enough to receive paid vacations) but it can give you an idea on how I plan to cure my wanderlust one vacation at a time.
- Planning is crucial. First, write down the amount of vacation days you get each year. Next, write down between one and three places you would love to visit. Then, plan those trips! You of course need to use your best judgement while planning. For example, a trip abroad may require more days off than a domestic trip.
- Pick dates. In most cases, employees are free to use their leave time as they choose, as long as there is advanced notice. If you have three week-long trips planned, just be sure to space them out accordingly. But, as long as you have dates, everything else is easy to plan.
- Gather friends. Do you have other people that would be interested in joining you? Invite them! Sharing a trip with friends cuts down on rental car and hotel costs. Tell them your dates so they can start planning their flights too. But trips alone can be just as exhilarating, depends on what you’re looking for.
- Book that flight! Now, I’m not telling everyone to max out their credit cards to travel, but sometimes it’s difficult to justify paying for an entire flight when you have other bills to pay. I usually will purchase my flights a few months in advance, and then pay them off little by little each month so that the entire flight is paid off prior to my trip. I also keep a separate “travel” bank account and put some money in it each week to save for spending money. If I have a specific trip planned, it’s easy to save for it (and say no to random weeknight bar tabs).
- Take the trip! Now, I have also seen blog posts that say “vacationing is not the same as traveling.” I think that any trip you take is going to be what you make of it. If you don’t want to stick to tourist traps, you don’t have to! One way to make sure you’re blending in and experiencing what the locals do is to use couchsurfing.com or Airbnb to find a place to stay. This way, you’re staying with someone local who can tell you the reasons why they love where they live. Have an agenda, or just get lost. The choice is yours.
- Reflect. After I travel, I like to decompress, look through photos and really think about the place I just visited. Travel hangover is a real thing, but it doesn’t last forever. It can be cured by planning your next trip!
- Appreciate your home base. Take time to cherish where you live, and embrace the serenity of living in a routine from time to time. Be thankful you have a home base, and a chance to explore while coming home to something familiar. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.
So, that’s my list and you can take it or leave it. But it goes to show that just because you’re “stuck in the work grind” doesn’t mean your life is meaningless and boring. It means you can take pride in what you do and reward yourself often.
(But, if you do hate your job, I think it doesn’t hurt to do some soul searching to see what will make you happier.)
So, ladies, this may not be an exhaustive guide, but I hope I’ve helped shine some light onto curing your wanderlust while keeping your job.
Do you have a different method? We would love to hear it! Shoot us an email with any ideas.
Have a great week, boss ladies!