The notion of you can really only travel if you quit your corporate job and start a digital nomad life can not be more wrong. I don’t even know where it all started but whoever did is probably trying to make him or herself feel better. I tried blogging as a full-time job and I could tell you, it sucked the life out of me. Just like everything else in the world, things that worked for other people doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for you too. You can read more about this on this post: Why Quitting My Job To Be A Full-Time Blogger Isn’t For Me.
So how can you manage to travel with a full-time job? I’ve been doing it for years and these are the things that I follow to do it:
1. PLAN AHEAD.
And by ahead I mean at least a year in advance. I research for destinations I plan to travel including the cost of what I would spend while there. Flights, hotel accommodations, car rental fees or public transportation, activities to do while there and of course I also browse through local restaurant menus so I’d know how much a meal would cost me.
Flight fares and hotel prices are also always cheaper if you book it in advance but I know that not everyone have that luxury of being able to pay for anything in advance because work and life may get in the way. Also, most of the cheap flight fares are non-refundable and it might be too daunting to book it right away specially if you think that it’s way too early to do so. But if you already know where you’re going, once you’re ready to make the commitment you can easily book all of the services right away as you’ve already done your research. Some airlines also release some promotional offers throughout the year so once that’s released, you can easily grab those flights and make your holiday happen.
If I’m not booking my holiday through a tour operator (see below) then I book my hotels in advance on booking.com. You can normally book hotel rooms without being charged for it right away and when I’m very sure that I can go on that holiday, I’ll book the non-refundable, cheaper price to save money.
2. BOOK THROUGH TRAVEL AGENCY/TOUR OPERATOR.
With all the travel websites which any computer-literate person can use to plan their own holidays these days, I thought that travel agent jobs would be abolished by this time. But no, we’re all still here and business is getting better.
My main reason why I prefer to book my holidays through a tour operator is because some of them gives you the option to pay for a minimum deposit amount at the time of booking and pay for the rest of it as an installment. This way, you don’t spend a huge lump sum amount of money in one go to secure your holiday and you also don’t have to worry of the prices going up as the cheap price is already locked for you.
Another reason why I’d actually promote booking your holiday through a tour operator is, if anything happens during your holiday someone will make sure that you’ll be assisted no matter what it is. I remember the unrest in central part of Sri Lanka which happened last year and our ground handler was able to relocate most of our clients who are staying in that area to somewhere else where they won’t be affected by the unrest. I would’ve been extremely stressed if I was in that area with no idea where to go and nobody I know.
3. USE YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE WISELY.
For most countries, annual leave is mandatory for all employees except in the US which I still can’t believe that it isn’t. Anyway, here in the UK we get 22 annual leave days and 8 public holidays. I don’t work on Sundays and public holidays so I plan my annual leave around these days. Let’s take the 2019 Easter weekend as an example:
19April – Good Friday (public holiday)
20April – Saturday – I’ve filed for an annual leave on this day.
21April – Easter Sunday (public holiday/normal day off)
22April – Easter Monday (public holiday)
I’ve only used one day out of my 22 annual leave days on this weekend but I get to have 4 consecutive days off. We also get 2 days off per week so essentially, I can still request for 18th of April as another day off which means I’d get 5 consecutive days off with just one annual leave filed.
Planning your travels a year in advance also gives you the edge of being able to file your leave earlier than your colleagues if that actually matters in your company. They’ll hate you for it but as they say, you snooze you lose. :p
4. SAVE UP.
Planning ahead also gives you ample time to save money for your holidays. The Greek Mister always compliments my money-managing skills but for me, it’s all about knowing your priorities. I can live my life without shopping for a year and I am also not very fussed if our apartment is in its simplest form on the other hand, I cannot live a life without traveling so I really do invest on it.
Every month as soon as my salary comes in my bank account, a fixed amount is automatically transferred to our joint savings joint account and a lower fixed amount is automatically transferred to my own savings account. After setting aside some money for our monthly grocery – the rest of my salary is then divided into: savings for a holiday and money that I can spend for the month. The amount of money that goes to my holiday fund and the money I’ll spend for the month varies each month as I earn commissions on top of my fixed monthly salary.
As an example, say I earned GBP2,000.00 for this month.
GBP500 – joint savings account
GBP300 – personal savings account
GBP500 – monthly grocery
GBP300 – holiday fund
GBP300 – money I can spend in a month for my own personal things
By the end of the month, if there’s a few amount left in our grocery fund and from my own personal fund I transfer these to our holiday fund too. Similarly, if commission isn’t so good and I’m left with only GBP150 in my personal fund for the month – I stick to it. The things I spend my personal fund on aren’t a necessity in my life. Most of the time, I use my personal funds on going for a day trip somewhere near London or eating in fancy restaurants or going to the salon for a bit of pampering. I can skip all these if I don’t have the fund for it, as they say don’t live a life beyond your means.
I use the holiday funds to pay for the flights or hotels in advance or pay as an installment of a holiday package booked through a tour operator.
To make it even more complex if a holiday is already paid in full, my holiday funds will then be used as a savings for our pocket money when we travel.
As an example, let’s say all of our holidays for next year are already paid and my holiday funds will be used as our pocket money for the travel. I am planning to go to Malaysia, Greece and USA with the latter as our big holiday for next year as we’re going there during Christmas time and were staying for 2 weeks. Malaysia is the cheapest destination among the three, Greece comes in second and USA the most expensive not because of the dollar rate but because of the season that we’re going there. We’re also planning to stay in good hotels while there as we do plan to splurge on it.
Let’s take the GBP300 from the holiday fund as an example. So I’ll divide that fund into three:
GBP50 – Malaysia in June
GBP100 – Greece in September
GBP150 – USA in December
If I started this pocket money holiday fund in January 2019 and let’s say the amount saved is consistent, I would’ve saved GBP300 (GBP50 x 6 months from January to June) as part of our pocket money to Malaysia by June 2019; GBP900 (GBP100 x 9 months from January to September) for our holiday to Greece by September 2019 and GBP1800 (GBP150 x 12 months from January to December) for our holiday to the USA by December 2019. Depending on the things we’ll do then all of these may or may not be just an extra pocket money for us.
These funds help us immensely during our holidays and I’m quite proud to say that almost all of our holidays for 2018 were heavily funded by my own savings. 🙂
So really, you don’t have to quit your job to travel the world because you can absolutely and most definitely travel with a full time job. Planning ahead is definitely the most important thing to do because everything else from here follows. It doesn’t have to be international travel, even domestic travel still needs a bit of planning specially if money is a huge a factor. I understand that not everyone earns a livable wage and that no matter how much you save in a month, it still won’t let you travel – if that’s the case, of course your priorities will be different. I’d advise to only travel when you’re not actually sacrificing a very important aspect of your life like food, roof over your head and bills.