How do you make room for travel in a busy working-life schedule?
There's annual leave I guess. In the UK we're considered lucky to get 28 days off per year, across many countries this is far less, but I can't be the only one left thinking that it just isn't enough to satisfy by inner travel bug? If you've read my other posts, you'll know how meticulously I plan my time off from work, I carefully plan out all my holidays a year in advance in order to make the most of them. Personally, I struggle to work more than ten weeks at a time without a break, I can't decipher what it is but I just run out of steam, I basically start counting the hours until my next holiday, even if it is still three weeks away. Whenever I have time off, I always intend to use it to go somewhere, it feels like a waste not to. My work colleagues are often confused about how I still have half of my holidays left because I seem to be off and about to so many places, in the UK and abroad, so here are a few of my tips on how you can fit travel around a busy 9-5 working schedule:
Utilising weekends for trips away is so easy and doable that I'm surprised I don't do it more often. Luckily for me, I live bang in the middle of three major UK airports; Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham – all of which are around an hour away. This tip may not work so well if you live some distance from airports, but there's always the euro-tunnel and ferries you can use to venture into Europe. If you intend to use your weekend to visit somewhere, I'd always recommend visiting a smaller place that will be doable in the two days you have since it would be a shame to rush. Also if you're in the position where your work can be flexible, you could always ask for a couple of hours off on the Friday to allow time to travel, if not, using one day's holiday to take the Friday or Monday off is never a bad idea and can give you more time to explore.
Incorporate bank holidays into your week off
Now, this may only apply to people in the UK, since I'm not sure if other countries even have bank holidays, but this is a very important point! A large amount of us are annoyingly forced into taking bank holidays off as part of our annual leave, me included. If you're not, well I'm very envious of you! Taking bank holidays as annual leave can be annoying, a lot of places are closed, public transport is a myth and wherever you go it's busy anyway, so why not use it to your advantage? One of my favourite times of year to take time off is during Easter, and I will continue to do it every year that I can. Since you already get four days off (Fri-Mon), why not extend your leave? Take the following Tues-Fri off following Easter Monday and all of a sudden you have ten days off work. There's plenty of places to visit at this time of year; jet off to the Southern hemisphere where March/April are pleasantly warm months, or embark on a European city tour (you could easily squeeze 2, 3 or even 4 cities in 10 days). I tend to take all of my extended holidays (more than a day or two) on weeks where there is a bank holiday so I can use them extra days elsewhere through the year.
Choose somewhere easily reachable
Not all of your trips away have to be to extravagant places far away! Whilst these trips are nice, there's plenty to do on your own doorstep. I get just as excited going somewhere in the UK for a day or two as I do jetting off to the Caribbean for a fortnight. Again this maybe UK biased, but there are so many beautiful places across England and Wales (I've never been to Scotland so can't give tips here) such as Snowdonia or the Welsh Coast, multiple national parks across England, the warm southern coast and idyllic medieval cities, honestly there's plenty to see and you can often be amazed by what's out there. If the UK really isn't your cup of tea, there's many other places in Europe, why not head to Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels or Paris? All you need to do is hop on a plane or a train. People often forget how many destinations are only a short flight distance away. Take Ireland for example, from leaving home, travelling to the airport, waltzing through security and landing in Dublin, only three hours had passed. Places in England alone can take double that to reach (yes, I'm looking at you Cornwall with your horrendous traffic congestion problems)!
You may have to give up other important events
Until the last year or so (since I got a full-time job), I would always ensure I was home for birthdays, Christmas or other important events, I would even feel incredibly guilty for going away on my own birthday or anybody's because I associate it with a family gathering. Over the past year I've learnt that its okay to skip these events and that you can't live your life around them. My birthday has always fallen on or near the August bank holiday meaning I've always refused to travel somewhere over that weekend, sacrificing one of the few bank holiday weekends to spend it at home instead. Although its nice to be at home for such occasions, you can always arrange something else for another weekend, it's really only another day in the calendar and why give up visiting a brand new place for something that happens every single year? It's also more cost-effective to travel on days like Christmas or New Years so I guess that's another reason to do this!
Plan any work trips for a Friday
This is a great one my boss actually shared with me, and whilst it may not be beneficial to some, it may help others. I recently started travelling across the country for my job, and whilst it can be super annoying, sometimes you get to go to some nice places, for example when I had to go to Wiltshire/Dorset. I had to plan this trip months in advance so decided to arrange it for a Friday. This meant I could travel up on the Thursday night, attend to my work commitments on the Friday, and then I could spend the weekend in a beautiful place! I'm certainly glad I did this and was finally able to explore the southern corner of the UK, something I wouldn't really have been able to do any other time since it's a four-hour drive on a good day. Learning from this, I am definitely considering doing this for all long journeys in the future and would recommend everyone does the same when given the opportunity!
So these are my five tips for travelling when working a 9-5 job. I've so far found that it works just enough to satisfy my travel bug. Of course, given the opportunity and unlimited money, I'd give up my job in a second to travel every corner of the world, but until then, follow these tips and I'm sure you can travel just as much as I do with some small adjustments.