How to Travel And Work Full-Time

(This is part two of Life-Travel Balance Week. Check back all week for more tips!)

Long-term travelers have all the time in the world, but not necessarily a ton of cash. When you’re working full-time, however, it’s easy to watch your bank account fill up but feel as if you don’t have the time or ability to travel. Sometimes it’s the guilt factor: that you don’t feel as if you can really “leave” even when on vacation. Other times, it just doesn’t seem worth the effort: how much can you really see in Thailand when you only have 10 days off and that (expensive) flight requires two whole travel days?

Since I moved to New York City in 2012 and started a full-time position in marketing (with 15 allotted vacation days per year), I’ve visited my hometown in California twice and traveled to the Bahamas, Las Vegas, Jordan, Iceland, Portland, San Francisco, Montreal, Miami, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It’s not always easy, but I’ve made travel a priority without sacrificing my beloved fixed life. Here are my tried-and-true tricks on how to travel and work full time.

Make it a true weekend escape

A Girl Standing in Front of the Golden Gate Bridge - How to Travel and Work Full Time

There’s a reason why The New York Times has a travel column—and now a book series—around 36 hours in a new city: that’s usually just the amount of time you have in a new city on a weekend away, once you factor in travel. While I usually read those columns with a grain of salt and a chuckle—the itineraries are notoriously over-scheduled—it’s still a good reminder that you can have a great experience away without taking too much time off work.

To really enjoy it, look for new places close to home. I recommend staying within four hours travel time (factor in rush hour traffic when driving and getting from your front door to the airport gate when flying) or opting for Thursday night travel or a Sunday red-eye. Splurge on a fancy boutique hotel to get that feeling of escape and luxury without going too far when you travel and work full time. Go on a weekend yoga or meditation retreat to truly relax and recharge.

 Take advantage of holiday breaks

Christmas Liquor on the Beach - How to Travel and Work Full Time

I’m super grateful that I have a small family that is understanding of my unquenchable desire to travel. My parents told me that if I was going to spend the money on a plane flight around Christmas, I might as well go somewhere with a beach—and so I did! I spent the week around Christmas in Puerto Rico last year, and it was wonderful to get a vacation without using up all of my vacation days. Flights around this time are notoriously expensive, but you can save by going on off-hours or traveling on the holiday itself. One tip: book early, and stay somewhere with Wifi so you can FaceTime into the family celebrations to not feel so far away. Better yet: talk your family into celebrating somewhere tropical!

Add onto work trips when you travel and work full time

The View of the Sea and a City from the Plane - How to Travel and Work Full Time

My job doesn’t require much travel, but whenever the opportunity comes up: I take it! I have to travel for trade shows, and whenever possible, I add in a couple of extra nights. The flight costs the same for my employer, and I pay for my extra nights in a hotel or expenses once my “work” is over. The flight is a big financial expense and time spent traveling is often difficult to justify with work; this is a way to reap the benefits without the negative so you can travel and work full time. Now I’m always looking for new cities that it makes sense for me to visit on my company’s behalf—especially ones I want to visit myself!

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

A Girl Standing at Horseshoe Bend - How to Travel and Work Full Time

Sometimes, a weekend just won’t cut it. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for extended unpaid leave so that you can head to more far-flung destinations or spend some time deep-diving into a city or country. Pitch it as personal development, and time it during the slow season. I’ve had a few friends who have taken five weeks off to explore Europe, and have the luxury of returning home to a waiting job and apartment. You never know until you ask!

Treat every day like a vacation

The Travel Section of the New York Times and a Cappuccino - Treat Everyday as a Vacation When You Travel and Work Full Time

One of my favorite parts of living in New York City is that there is always something new to try. One of the urban myths that floats around—I’m not sure just how correct it is—is that you can eat at a new restaurant in Manhattan every day for 12 years and still not have tried every one. There is always a new restaurant, a new exhibit, a new show: it’s impossible to get bored here. Because of that, I try to treat every day here like I would in a new city: walk a different route to work and pay attention to the architecture, duck into a coffee shop to drink a latte and people watch, take a food tour in a new neighborhood.

Granted, this isn’t as easy in small towns or even other big cities. But I find that it’s more of an attitude than anything else: an eagerness to try new things instead of getting sucked into a routine, an appreciation for the beauty that surrounds you, an ability to enjoy the here and the now instead of wistfully daydreaming for another place at another time.


Do you have any tips on how to travel and work full time?

After living in France and Australia and backpacking through Europe and Southeast Asia, Christine Amorose “settled down” in New York City where she works in marketing, is training to become a yoga teacher and still racks up plenty of frequent flier miles. She writes about travel, fashion and creating an intentional lifestyle at 

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How to Travel and Work Full Time

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66 thoughts on “How to Travel And Work Full-Time”

  1. Great tips Christine! I never thought of it this way. I try to do 1 overseas trip a year but then I’m budgeting and stressing all year to have money for the trip, and I cram so much into the trip that I never get to have a RELAXING holiday. I’m going to take one big 10 day trip and a few relaxing long weekends from now on. Luckily in Australia we get 20 days of leave, but it works out to 16 or 17 with Christmas closure.

  2. Great tips! I always sum it up with “live within your means so you can travel beyond your dreams.” For those of us unfortunate souls on a limited budget AND limited vacation days (why can’t we be like Europe with mandatory 4 weeks PTO?!), asking for unpaid leave on top of PTO is necessary. But it can be done!

  3. Scott at VacationCounts

    Yes, we all can’t quit our full-time jobs and ditch the career path to travel the world. OK maybe once or twice in our lifetime, but for now the goal is to find, make, and even demand more time off work for travel.

    Everyone should at least try the employer negotiation tactic, especially when you are changing jobs. While you can’t always negotiate for a higher salary, you might be more successful asking for an extra few days off each year (paid or unpaid).

    Treating every day like a vacation day is another piece of smart advice. I call it “Work-Life-Vacation Balance.” Treat time not working and time not handling life’s responsibilities as “vacation” time. Balance all three to maximize your time off from both work and life for travel opportunities. Vacation time can be had close to home or even for only an hour or two during the work day if you get in the vacation mindset.

    -Scott, VacationCounts – Take More Vacation Time Off

    1. Love that last bit about work-life-vacation balance! I’m also huge on timing job changes so that you can squeeze in a nice vacation in between end and start dates 🙂

  4. Yup, it’s tough going on trips when you’re into that 9-5/Mon-Fri work schedule. Your idea of maximizing week-end trips by staying close to home makes sense. I’m sure within a 3-4 hr. travel time there’s a resort or some exciting spot you could enjoy spending time in.

  5. I love this! Full-time travel and a nomadic lifestyle are not for everyone. It’s all about your personality and preferences. If you need some stability and routine in your life, you might be happier working a regular job and traveling occasionally.

  6. Great tips! I must admit it’s hard to combine full-time job with travelling, but as you have proven it’s doable. I agree with going on short weekend trips. You can relax, do some sightseeing and charge your batteries till the next journey!

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