That pesky little thing called a job
Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Job getting in the way of your travelling goals? Well I hate to break it to you but unless you're independently wealthy, you're going to need to figure out how you're going to pay for all of your adventures. Oh, and your bills. Don't forget those.
I travel for about six weeks out of the year. So it's pretty damn important to me to enjoy what I'm doing for the other 46 weeks.
Would you be surprised if I told you I love my job? Or that one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday night is to put on my pj's and cuddle up with my dog and husband while binge watching Netflix? In my experience, most people view travelling as a way to escape life. I disagree. To quote J. R. R. Tolkien, "not all who wander are lost."
Travelling has opened up mind and views exponentially. I'm much more open to new experiences, people, cultures and challenges. Travelling is a huge part of my life. But it's not my whole life. My dog, my family, my friends, my job, and my charitable work are just as important to me as travelling. (Yes, I purposely put my dog first).
So how do I manage it all?
For starters, I'm extremely organized. I'm not the type of person that does things on a whim. I would be lost without my day-planner (a physical planner that I carry around - call me old school.). And I can confidently say that I have mastered the art of research and scheduling.
Yes, I realize I'm lucky that I have a government job with great benefits. I don't take that for granted. But in 2018 for example, I travelled for six weeks. And only had four weeks of allocated vacation time. So how have I not gotten myself fired?
I'm telling you, a little creativity and planning go along way. Here are six tips to help you make the most out of your vacation time and get a few extra weeks thrown in.
1. Bank time. Talk to your manager or HR department to see if you can bank straight time. My organization allows me to bank up to one week of vacation time per year. By working 30 minutes to one hour extra every day, it doesn't take long to achieve that extra week of vacation time. Totally worth it.
2. Take advantage of overtime. Never, ever, ever say no to overtime. And never, ever, ever get paid out for your overtime. Always use it in exchange for time off. Now I personally don't have many opportunities to work overtime, but you better believe that I make myself available if an opportunity presents itself. I actually schedule my winter vacation around a weekend trade show.
3. Don't travel at peak times. Flights and accommodations are always more expensive if you travel over the Christmas break, Spring break or throughout July and August. Teachers - I know you're cursing me right now but seriously, you're off of work for like 12 weeks out of the year. You're just going to need to get a bit more creative in your planning.
Many of your co-workers will want to take vacation during peak times. Let them! In my experience, work is generally slower during these periods anyways. So suck it up and go into the office on December 27th. Clean out some files and enjoy all of the leftover Christmas baking. And enjoy your three week February vacation that your manager is more likely to approve because all of your co-workers are back in the office.
4. Incorporate long weekends. Not all vacations need to be over a week long. Use your long weekends to visit that friend who's only a three hour flight away. Or rent a cottage over a long weekend for a three night low-key, or crazy party-time (whatever you're in the mood for) mini get-away.
Now be careful with this one, because prices generally increase over long weekends. Again, get creative. I'm flying out to Las Vegas on the Sunday of the May long weekend and returning on the Thursday. Sunday to Thursday packages are always cheaper and by incorporating a long weekend, I only have to take three days off of work. That's a win.
5. Do not waste vacation days. Your vacation days are precious commodities. If you get into the habit of taking Friday afternoons off because you're "tired", you are not going to have enough vacation time to actually use for vacation. If you're tired or need a break take a weekend off from commitments (you can just say no!) and rest. Watch Netflix, sleep, spend time with your dog or your kids and just chill. And please, schedule all home projects over evenings or weekends. Using a vacation day to clean out your garage does not sound like my idea of a vacation.
If you're not feeling 100%, take a sick day! Obviously you don't want to abuse your sick time and I'm not suggesting to do so, but I am suggesting to use your allocated sick time if you're under the weather or need a mental health day. Totally appropriate.
And if your work frowns upon doctor's appointments during work hours, schedule them for over your lunch break. Or first thing in the morning and then stay later at the end of the day to make up your missed time.
6. Un-paid leave. If you are starting a new job or have run out of vacation time, most organizations will allow employees to take unpaid leave. Obviously, if you're considering this option, you need to budget for it. I've taken un-paid leave up to one week per year, and it does suck come pay-day when your cheque is cut in half. But if you can make it work financially, it's definitely a great way to extend your vacation time.
If you're serious about making time for travelling there are ways. So stop making excuses, get yourself a day planner, look through your HR policies or collective agreement, and get started on planning your year of travel.