We all wish we could travel more, but unfortunately for most people this really isn’t an option if you have a full time job. Well in this post I hope to shed light on some ways you can travel and explore even if you’re still working full time. I’m now adapting to being back working full time myself, but still love to use the spare time I have to see new places and experience new things. So until the next time you get a chance to do a big travel trip, here are some tips on making the most of the time you have.
1 – Do a group tour
I’ve written about my experiences with Contiki Tours in other posts, but I’ve also travelled with a company called GAdventures in Africa. The main thing that stands out is just how much you can do and see in a very short period of time by going on a tour. I also found to my surprise, that there are a good amount of people on these tours still working full time jobs. Not to mention it takes all the hassle out of organising and planning everything.
The first Contiki Tour I did was whilst I was still working a full time job, and it was actually booked pretty last minute on a whim. It was a 2 week road trip in the USA that went from New Orleans all the way across to LA, stopping at loads of great places along the way. Every day was something new, we saw and did so much in such a short period of time that I would have never been able to do myself. To list some highlights, we partied in limos in Las Vegas, went on airboats to find alligators in the swamps of New Orleans, strolled through Elvis’ house in Memphis, saw an NBA game, had a helicopter ride over the grand canyon, followed in Forest Gumps footsteps in monument valley, had a hot air balloon ride in New Mexico, checked out the mountains of Colorado, attempted a 72 ounce steak in Texas, visited the Kennedy museum in Dallas, and I could go on and on… All this in just 2 weeks.
Yes group tours might be more expensive, but if you’re still working and using you’re allocated holiday, remember you’re still being paid whilst you’re out there. I could do all of the above because I was still working and had the funds to be able to do more expensive activities, which will likely not be the case if it’s part of a bigger longer travel trip. If you’re strapped for time and want to do loads with it, my number 1 tip is without a doubt to go on a group tour.
2 – Long Weekends & ‘Micro Adventures’
If you’d rather do more frequent trips but for less time, then consider long weekends. Public holidays (although yes may be more expensive/busy) are great for this, this is because with a long bank holiday weekend you just need to use 1 days worth of holiday allowance, and you’ve got yourself a 4 day mini break. You’d be surprised how much you can do and see within this time, and it makes such a difference having that short break and change of scenery.
Second is to try out some ‘Micro Adventures’. You may wonder what I’m on about… well these are mini adventures and trips that you can take even in the middle of a full working week. The idea is inspired by a guy called Al Humphreys and his book ‘MicroAdventures’ (which is proudly on my bookshelf and his site is linked here). If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a really inspiring guy who’s cycled around the world and written about it, and now encourages people to use the small time they have and do exciting things with it. I actually discovered him after hearing him speak at a work event. The reason he spoke is because one of our work teams had previously gone with him hiking and camping out in the woods, all on a weeknight, all being back in work bright and early the next day. Our office was based in Central London not the countryside. So it really shows, there are always lots of ways to be inventive with your time if you have the willpower to do it.
3 – Get Organised
By this I mean know the time you’ll have to take off and plan in advance when you’re going to take your holiday time to travel. Let’s assume you get 20 days of holiday per year (this is the legal minimum in the UK, but I understand other countries have different amounts). Actually block out when you want to travel in advance to make sure you can when you want to. In the past I’d often end up just taking one weeks proper holiday or trip each year because I’d ended up using the odd day here or there, which when you added them up had used up the majority of my holiday days. Whereas when chatting about it to a friend at work, they said they always made sure to do a weeklong trip every 3 months. We both had the same amount of holiday to use, they were just more organised in actually planning out when they wanted to use it, so got much more out of it each year.
4 – Explore your own country
I’m always amazed at the things I discover close to home that I completely took for granted. It’s often only when you have a guest that you’re asked to show around, that you actually end up going to great places not too far away that you may not have even been to yourself. Since I’ve been back from my big trip and now I’m working again, I have less time to travel. However with my girlfriend being Canadian and wanting to show her as much of the UK as possible, it’s made me go to lots more places that I previously would have just taken for granted that I would visit ‘at some point’.
So many of us have big grand dreams of travelling across the world, when we haven’t even fully explored our own backyard yet. I’m sure within a few hours of where you’re based there are lots of places you haven’t discovered or been to before. I personally still haven’t been to all the cities and places I could in the UK myself. So if you’re strapped for time and cash, this is a great option.
5 – Go deeper in exploring your local and surrounding areas
So yes this isn’t specifically travel, I know, and may not be that adventurous… However, similar to the above, I think so many people want to travel to experience new and different things but haven’t even fully experienced all that they can outside their own front door. All the pictures in this post are of places I’ve been since I’ve been back home that are maximum a few hours drive away.
I was once walking with a friend along the Embankment which is one of my favourite parts of Central London. He was from the north of England but lead me to a cool little spot that I’d never seen or been to before, it had loads of little quirky shops and bars and was just generally really great. When I asked him how someone from nowhere near knew these cool little hidden spots I wasn’t even aware of, he gave me some great advice. It was simply to walk more. This was purely because by walking from place to place and exploring around a bit, you’ll end up discovering some really interesting places along the way.
Have you got any ideas for making travel work whilst working a full time job? Comment below, I’d love to hear them!