I want to work to build a good foundation for my career. But I also want to see the world. The issue of work versus travel was one of the main reasons I created this blog because I felt like most of the blogs I follow were focused on long term travel or living abroad and while I love reading about them, I don’t want to do either of those things at this point. So here is a post about the ways I try to balance my wanderlust with my career – it’s really not as difficult as you may think!
The first mistake I believe that people make when it comes to travel is thinking that “it’s not worth it” to go away for anything less than two weeks. In my experience this is completely wrong. I love a two week holiday as much as the next person, but I also love a weekend getaway and I think it’s the perfect way to visit a city or to have a relaxing retreat to the countryside.
As far as I’m concerned, the only difference between planning your destination for a mini break and for a long holiday is that you have to be more aware of travel times. As a general rule, I don’t want to travel for more than about 5 hours if I’m away for 3-4 days or 3 hours if I’m just away for 2 days. Depending on your location in the world, this could be quite limiting in which I case I would recommend a staycation or a trip to a nearby city – even if you’ve been there many times before, sometimes just getting away from home for a couple of days can be just what the doctor ordered. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to live somewhere like Europe where there are a whole host of countries on your doorstep, you’re on to a winner.
Plan your holiday allowance well
This is a big one, because by speaking to other people in my office who have been working full time for much longer than me, it’s easy to see how holidays can disappear on things that you need to do – like trips to the dentist and getting your hair done – rather than being saved for things you want to do.
I also do not understand why some people don’t use all of their holiday allowance – it’s there for a reason and it can actually be more annoying for the company if you don’t take it: they don’t want to pay you extra for not taking holidays but they also don’t want to end up with no staff in the month before the end of the holiday period because everyone is frantically taking pointless days off because they have to. I also believe that sometimes getting away for a few days can give you new perspective on what you’ve been working on and you can come back to work relaxed, reinvigorated and ready to go! So for God’s sake, take your holidays and do something fun!
In the past month I have been on trips to Gullane, Newcastle, Prague, Paris and London. For all of these trips I have only used 3 days of my holiday allowance. I have done this by making sure that all of my trips are over a weekend (either Friday to Sunday or Saturday to Monday in most cases) and utilising any bank holidays or local holidays as a “free” day off. You may need to plan bank holiday trips in advance though as these can be pricey and busy times. I got round this by planning a trip to Prague, which ended up being about the same price as a trip within Scotland.
Combine Multiple Stops into One Trip
Going on a cruise meant that by taking 11 days of holiday from work, I was able to spend 15 days exploring 9 different locations, none of which I had been to before. (You can see my posts from my Caribbean Cruise with P&O here). This meant I used the same amount of holidays as I would have for my main holiday of the year anyway but I got to see so many more places. I am a big advocate of cruises so you can expect many more allusions to the benefits of cruises in future posts!
I also employed this tactic with my recent trip to Paris, which became a trip to Paris and London. When we were researching the trip it became clear that we could add a stopover in London for one night and actually save money so we jumped at the chance to do this: a return flight would have been £120 but we spent £36 on getting to London and £34 on getting home from there, thereby saving £50 and adding lots more fun! So in the end we spent 3 full days in Paris and then got the Eurostar to London to spend 24 hours there (where we saw Book of Mormon and went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour – both of which I have wanted to do for MONTHS). This worked out so well that I will definitely be considering options like this in the future.
So those are my main tips for balancing work and wanderlust! Do you have any tips for fitting travel around your work commitments? If so I would love to hear them in the comments below.