We all love to travel, but there’s this pesky little thing called work that often gets in the way — and since our jobs generally fund our travel adventures, quitting isn't always the best option. If you’re struggling to find time to travel in between working 9-to-5 every weekday, here are some tips and tricks for you.
Use Your Vacation Days Strategically
A study from the U.S. Travel Association showed that 52 percent of Americans didn’t use all of their vacation days in 2017. That’s 705 million total unused vacation days in 2017. If your employer is offering you comp time, take it; don’t just let it go to waste.
With some strategic planning, you can use your vacation days with weekends and holidays and not instead of. Spread your vacation days around, combining them with weekends and holidays to fit in more trips throughout the year. Here’s an example: Want to take a trip for Labor Day? Leave Thursday evening after work and come back on Monday evening. That’s a four-night trip, but you’re only using one vacation day (Friday). Weekends and holidays are like free vacation days, so take advantage of them.
Set an Alert For Your Airport
With limited time to spend traveling, you can't waste hours sitting in an airport waiting for a connecting flight. Flying direct can save you a tremendous amount of time, letting you enjoy your destination for longer. Stay up to date with new or seasonal routes being added to your local airport, and keep up with all the places your airport can take you.
But direct flights can come with a higher price tag. So look out for flight deals out of your airport. When $75 tickets to New York pop up, be prepared to act on them. Set up alerts for your airport will make your planning much easier, and be able to track flights to specific destinations, or even narrow down your search to certain days of the week.
Travel at Unorthodox Times
Early morning, late night and even overnight flights can help you make the most of what time you do have. Why not leave the office at five pm and be in a new city by midnight? There are 24 hours in each day, so take advantage of every one of them. Heading out on an overnight flight on Friday and doing the same on the way back Sunday can help you extend your weekends. Train yourself to sleep on flights and those redeye flights suddenly become the perfect way to make your weekends last.
Work Remotely - If Only For a Few Days
Remote work is becoming more and more common, and depending on the nature of your job, there’s a pretty good chance you could work remote, at least a few days each month. Even if you can't be a full-time remote employee, tacking on a few work days to your vacation can help you extend your travel time. Travel somewhere new and explore the city’s cafes and Wifi hotspots as you work each day; in the evenings, explore whatever you’d like to see. With portable wifi hotspots, you can even get work done on your flight. One tip — consider traveling somewhere in your same time zone (or just an hour or two off) to make team collaboration easier.
Take Advantage of Work Trips
If your work sends you on business trips, don't settle for spending the time in your hotel. Sure, you’ll have to work during the day, but you can use your evenings to explore whatever city you’re in. Plus, you’re storing up frequent flyer miles that you can use later for your own purposes. Try to arrange travel near the weekends if possible — odds are, if your employer is paying for your flights they won't care if you wait until Sunday to book that return flight. Tack on a few days after your meetings are over to see the sights.
Research and Prioritize
Decide what’s most important to you. Which locations are you dying to visit and which places make you shrug your shoulders? If you don’t have much vacation time, you need to maximize what you do have. Don’t waste any time visiting somewhere you really don’t want to go — instead, head to your dream destinations as soon as possible. It also helps to conduct your research ahead of time and categorize destinations by the amount of time you'll need to enjoy them. Only need a few days to explore Portland? Make it a weekend trip. Need a full week in Florence? Get strategic with your vacation days.
Drive, Don’t Fly
Find some vacation spots that are located a one- to three-hour drive away from you — then hop in the car and go. Driving is much faster and easier than flying; you don’t have to worry about getting to the airport on time, getting through security and finding all of your bags. And let’s not even get started on the potential of delayed flights. If you drive, you’re in control, and you can get to your destination much faster. Do some research on the best places to visit near you. If nothing looks appealing, just jump in the car and start driving — make your own adventure.