15 Ways to Maximize Travel with a Full Time Job

Who says you can't travel if you work full-time?

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Quitting your job to travel the world forever might seem glamorous, but it’s not practical for the vast majority of people. However, you can still see the world if you inhabit a corporate office from Monday to Friday every week. To maximize your adventures while working, you have to get a little creative with your working arrangements and your time off. Here are some ideas for how to maximize travel with a full time job.

1. Work remotely

Working remotely can be the easiest way to travel with a full time job. In today’s working world, employers are becoming more and more flexible with working arrangements. 37% of professionals have worked remotely sometime in their career, with several of those people working remotely full time or almost full time. If you’re good at being productive when you aren’t in an office and your boss is supportive of flexible work arrangements, then working remotely might just be the best option for you.

2. Take more weekend trips

Blue Suitcase
Photo Credit: Drew Coffman (Flickr)

For people who work all week, weekend trips are the best kind of fun. You can take off right after work on Friday afternoon and return to your city on Monday. Though nearby locations work best for weekend travel, it’s not impossible to go abroad for a weekend if you play your cards right and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of sleep.

3. Hug your holidays

By using your vacation days around long holiday weekends, you can maximize the impact of your limited time off. For example, if you have 10 days off, you can get almost 3 full weeks off of work if you strategically plan your vacations around holiday weekends. Try it this Labor Day!

4. Buy red-eye flights

If you don’t keep an eye on it, travel from point A to point B can burn through many of your precious vacation days. The best way to avoid spending entire days traveling is to take red-eye flights whenever possible. Yes, it means you have to sleep on a plane. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. Of course, red-eyes suck. However, by taking red-eye flights, you avoid spending full vacation days in transit and can spend more of it on the ground in a new and exciting place.

5. Jump on opportunities to travel for work

In our international economy, many companies have operations in several locations around the world. If your company is one of those, try requesting to get involved with work that enables you to travel. Sometimes that requires a role switch, but sometimes it just starts with an open conversation. Call a meeting with your boss and present a couple of ideas on how you can start working on projects that enable you to travel with a full time job.

6. Request a sabbatical

Briefcase - Rear
Photo Credit: Myles Tan (Flickr)

Some companies offer programs where employees can take a sabbatical after working for a certain amount of time. A sabbatical is essentially a short-term break, which is either paid or unpaid, but after which you can return to the company in your same role. These breaks can be a good time to travel for a bit longer than your current vacation days can otherwise afford.

7. Attend a trade conference

Several industries host trade conferences around the world, where participants can learn new skills and network with other professionals. Look for one that pertains to your industry that would potentially benefit the company in one way or another, and try pitching the conference to your boss. If you can make a good case about providing value, it’s a good opportunity to attend. The worst thing that can happen is that your boss says no.

8. Take off the whole week of Thanksgiving

If you’re American, you can probably already guess why I have explicitly called out Thanksgiving. Not only do most employers give 2 full vacation days during this week, but November is also a good shoulder season to travel to many international destinations.[ For just 3 vacation days, you can plan a trip for a full 9 days during the week of Thanksgiving. It’s worth the sacrifice of turkey and cranberry sauce for the trip of a lifetime.

9. Get a job abroad

If you like working in an office but still want the chance to explore new places long-term, try looking for a job that fits your resume in a city abroad. There are plenty of opportunities in the international work force, especially if you have a few years of experience to show your credentials.

10. Don’t ask, politely inform

Photo Credit: Anthony Auston (Flickr)

Many people make the mistake of asking for time off and then accepting “no” as an answer with frequency. Some bosses and supervisors are less accommodating of personal vacation requests. However, if you frame your request as a notice (“I wanted to let you know I’m planning on being out of the office for 5 days in September”) instead of as a question, it is often easier to get approval.

11. Take unpaid leave for long-term travel

Many companies offer the opportunity to take a “leave of absence” for personal reasons, typically unpaid. If you have a sizeable savings and have a good relationship with your HR department, ask what your employer’s policies are around taking unpaid leave. Some allow a month, while others may let you take up to a year. You’ll never get anything you don’t ask for…right?

12. Strategize your vacations

Is there a time of year when your work is a bit slower? Or when lots of people in your company take vacation? If so, try to plan your trips around the seasonality of your work. It will be a lot easier to take the time off if there’s not a lot going on during that period anyway.

13. Work out of another office

Perhaps your employer has offices around the world, and you’re planning on traveling to a city that houses one of them. Try asking if you can work out of that office for a week instead of coming directly home. This way, you can continue to explore a new place, but you’re still also working from an approved company office.

14. Scope out flight deals

Photo Credit: Travis Olbrich (Flickr)

There’s no “offer you can’t refuse” better than an amazing flight deals. Keep an eye on fare sales, error fares, and cheap flight deals to make sure you grab these deals when they arise. It’s easier to justify a crazy weekend trip or extending a holiday weekend if your flight was a killer price. You can also frame this trip as a “chance of a lifetime,” and cite the flight price to your employer, when you ask for time off.

15. Just go

It’s so easy to feel paralyzed when trying to plan travel around a full-time career. There is never going to be a time that’s perfect to get up and go. However, the world won’t stop if you take a few days off. Decide on some dates, put in your vacation notice, and start planning your trip. Don’t worry – you won’t regret missing out on extra office time in favor of an adventure in a new and exciting place.

Featured image credit: twentymindsomething (Flickr)

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Kay is a full-time working professional located in Washington DC who takes every spare vacation day to get outside and explore the world. When she travels, she loves visiting the most iconic and naturally beautiful destinations in the USA and abroad. You can typically find her wandering the streets of a city, running through a park, taking ridiculous self portraits, or hiking a mountain somewhere. Connect with Kay: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


  1. I feel like I could’ve written this article! My husband and I consider ourselves experts at managing our leave and people are always amazed at how many vacations we fit into a year. 🙂

    Two more tips:
    Tip 1: Don’t waste vacation days on “rest days” to catch up on sleep. That’s what the next weekend is for. Who cares if you look like a zombie at work. 🙂
    Tip 2: Transportation at night or early in the morning. Don’t waste your whole day flying.


    • Great tips, Lindsay! Thanks for those. It’s amazing how manageable vacation days can be if you play your cards correctly 🙂