The other day I was catching up with a friend and she asked me how Matt and I are able to travel so much. “Do you guys have a flexible vacation policy?” were her exact words and I couldn’t help but laugh. Out loud. We both work corporate 9-5s (well TBH Matt works way more than that) and we have frustrated conversations about the lack of flexibility at least once a month.
That said, we have absolutely not let our work schedules hold us back from traveling (you already know this if you follow me on social media). Sure we have to work around the times of year that are best for our employers and sure we can’t spend quite as much time as we might like in each place, but we have made it work – and made it work well.
So here we go, my top five tips to traveling when you don’t have a flexible work schedule…
1. Weekend trips
Number one tip right here because… wait for it… it doesn’t require you to use any PTO! Are you a little more tired come Monday morning? Yeah. Are you running out of underwear by Wednesday the next week because you didn’t have enough time to do laundry when you got home? Again, yeah. But is it worth it? 100%!
Nearly every trip we take is a weekend trip, leaving Friday after work and coming home Sunday. It is not a typical “vacation” because frankly there isn’t enough time for relaxing, but you would be surprised how much you can see and do in one weekend.
2. Wake up early when you travel
You can ditch the idea of sleeping in and ordering room service in your robe. That sounds like a lovely vacation but not the kind we have time for right now. Get up with the sun to make the most of the days you do have. Bonus: cities are typically pretty empty in the early mornings so you will most likely find that you have the whole place to yourself which is always a dream.
If you find yourself exhausted from your early call time, head to bed a little earlier. No need to hit the hay right after an early bird special or anything, but let’s just say our trips don’t involve any late night clubbing.
3. Pay a premium to stay near the areas of town/attractions you want to see
I know it can be hard to fork over extra cash when booking a hotel when you can find one for cheaper that “doesn’t look too far from the city” but I assure you it is worth it. Time is money, people, and when you don’t have much vacation time, you are short on the currency.
Plus, transportation from your hotel on the outskirts into the city center can add up! Spring for the more expensive place so you can make the most of every minute you have. I promise you the hours on the subway with no service add up and feel like a complete waste (talking from experience).
4. Tailor long trips around your work schedule
This isn’t ideal but you have to make lemonade out of the lemons your job gives you.
Figure out the times of year that you are the least busy at work and use that time for longer trips. Even if those times of year aren’t the weeks you would prefer to take off, the truth is that beggars can’t be choosers. The world is such a big place, I assure you there is somewhere you would like to visit at whatever time of the year shakes out.
For example, once a quarter there is a week where my work is not busy and this is the preferred time for us to use PTO. So while the end of March isn’t my ideal travel time (it’s cold in most places on my bucket list), we chose our destination this year based on where we actually wouldn’t mind it being a little cold or overcast. We landed on a roadtrip through Germany, Switzerland, and France and it ended up being our favorite trip either of us has ever taken – no contest!
The bright side: there are tons of perks to traveling during the off-season like reduced flight ticket prices, cheaper hotels, and less tourists.
5. Extend three-day weekends
I assume there are a few times of year that you are afforded three-day weekends at work (Labor Day and Memorial Day for example). See if you can take off an extra day or two on either end and make that a four or five day weekend! This is the easiest way to plan a longer vacation while still rationing your yearly allotment of PTO.
Personally, even though I mentioned that there are a few weeks a year that I am “encouraged” to take time off work, I don’t necessarily want to use up that much of my vacation time. That PTO is precious, honey!!! This is the trick we employ to stretch those vacation days as far as we can.
So there you have it, my top five tips for how to travel when you don’t have a flexible work schedule. It might not be perfect, but it is absolutely do-able and to me, any chance to get out and explore is worth it, even if I have to compromise a bit.
LIKED THIS POST? PIN IT TO PINTEREST!