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Student loans, cell phone bills, and medical insurance… What do all of these things have in common? Yes, they cost money, and money is hard to come by as a recent college graduate. Getting a job right out of college is pretty important, and for the vast majority of people, entry-level positions don’t allow a lot of flexibility in terms of vacation schedules or working remotely. A lot of college students fear going into the working world because it will inhibit their ability to see new places and experience traveling abroad, with only a few days of vacation each year. I’ll admit, coming out of almost a year of travel and entering the working world was certainly an adjustment for me in a lot of different ways, but with a mountain of student loans and other financial commitments, I just couldn’t afford to take off and travel right out of school. Perhaps you’re in the same situation, and if you are, there’s still plenty of opportunity to get out there and see the world, you may just have to change your perspective on travel slightly.
There’s a terrible misconception that going to work in an office every day during the week means you can no longer do the things you love. However, as I’ve learned through almost a year of working, this definitely doesn’t have to be the case. In my first year of working a corporate job, I’ve traveled to Costa Rica, Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Belgium, as well as many domestic destinations such as New Mexico and Washington DC. You can travel and work a full-time job by sticking to a few easy strategies.
So don’t quit your job to travel and do this instead:
Live Frugally (Even If You Don’t Have To)
This goes without saying, but if you want to travel, you have to have money. After graduating and getting your first job, it’s natural to use that new disposable income to buy material things like clothes and nice electronics. While those things are nice, if travel is a priority, you should make sure to set aside a certain percentage of your paycheck in a “travel-only” bank account. Cutting back on buying extra groceries, going out to eat, and unnecessary clothing can help you live more frugally and thus save more money for travel. It’s easy to get tempted to spend money when you have a steady paycheck, but if you truly love travel, put that extra cash away and use it on an amazing adventure.
Plan Trips Around Long Weekends and Holidays
If you enjoy slow travel but feel like you don’t have enough vacation days to do so, try sandwiching your weekends and planning trips around holidays. Taking a full week off between weekends actually gives you a 10-day vacation, so you have ample time to travel while only using up a week’s worth of vacation days. Planning around a long holiday weekend can cut your spent vacation days even further. Sometimes it can be more expensive though to travel during holiday times, so it’s important in this case to buy tickets pretty far in advance.
A fantastic week to travel is Thanksgiving week, when you’d only have to take 3 vacation days in order to have a full week of travel. This is long enough to hike the Inca trail in Peru, go surfing in Portugal, hop on a diving liveaboard in Thailand, and much more!
Get A Travel Credit Card (And Pay It Off)
Being an adult means that your credit score actually means something now, so why not help build your credit and gain valuable travel points by getting a travel credit card? Many college students overlook building up credit in college, but it’s actually a very important aspect of your financial future.
There are many credit cards you can get that can help you build your credit and earn you valuable points you can use for free travel. These cards range from hotel points to airline miles to travel reimbursements. Shop around, do your research, and choose one that best suits your needs and travel preferences!
Excel At Your Job
Here’s a secret: if you do really well at your job, you’ll have more leverage to request the things you want do. For example, I met a guy in Thailand who did so well at his employer that they let him work remotely, so he moved to Thailand and now works full-time from there while also getting his divemaster certification.
Being a great employee will increase your chances of getting what you want in the future, whether that’s taking a week of vacation during a busy time or working remotely for a couple of days. Some employers will even send you to international conferences if they deem you a good fit! Being one of the best employees in your offices enables you to fully take advantage of step-up opportunities and everything else your employer has to offer in terms of travel. So don’t quit your job to travel, excel at your job so you can travel more.
Dreaming of going to Japan for a week this year? Then avoid spending money on small trips domestically. Planning on taking a week-long ski trip this winter? Then don’t spend all of your disposable income going to beaches during the summer. If you keep your big travel goals in mind at all times, you’ll be less tempted to spend money on smaller trips. Even if they’re not that expensive, the costs add up and you’ll end up having to sacrifice other things.
Keep constant reminders of your bigger travel plans nearby always, like setting a picture of Japan as your computer’s desktop background. Set reminders on your phone to contribute to your travel savings fund. Request your vacation a few months in advance so your employer knows you’re going to be gone. And once everything is set in stone and you’re on your way, you’ll feel so much better for it.