learn, live, unsolicited travel how-to's

How to Be a Traveler and a 9-to-5er

Hiking with associates while working in Phoenix.

I know, I know, how dare I? To many an adventurer, the full-time cubicle gig is a slap in the face to wanderlust, but you can do both, I promise. And even afford it. I’m not a miracle worker, but I take simple steps that you too can use to turn a few of your daydreams into reality on the road. Here’s how I travel year round while maintaining a career:

  1. Stick with one mileage program
    It’s easy to look for the cheapest flight every time you need to go somewhere, but dividing your travel between multiple airlines wastes valuable rewards for loyalty. Even if you can’t avoid bargain shopping, use a credit card that earns miles every time you book. Then unexpected flights are a little less painful knowing you’re working toward a free one.

  2. Take advantage of obligations
    We don’t hesitate to book travel for weddings, family reunions, sporting events or visiting friends, but we forget to explore the destination while we’re there. Whether you work the best restaurant into your stay, make time for an attraction or experience, or just instigate a self-guided driving tour, see where you are, make the fare worth the trip. Even on long layovers.

  3. Capitalize on work trips
    How often do you hear someone say they’ve been to a city but only for a meeting or a conference? Walk outside! Play hookie if you have to. At the very most, tack on. Add exploration days to the beginning or end of the trip while the airfare’s covered. At the very least, look for (or ask a local about) real local digs and stop on your drive to or from the airport. You’ll feel much more accomplished no matter how work went.

  4. Never miss a long weekend
    I’ve been guilty of this since college—getting so overwhelmed with busyness leading up to a break I either never make time to plan something and/or use the extra day to rest or “catch up on errands.” Unacceptable dreamers. You only get so many of these a year and I’ve heard you complain about your limited vacation days. Go somewhere, even if for a day trip nearby. Save your staycation for a regular, two-day weekend.

  5. Always plan for your next trip
    Planning ahead to the next place you’d like to go makes your goal attainable with enough time to budget, save, ask for recommendations, and research. Not to mention it gives you a little motivation to keep working and maybe a little distraction when you need to take five. Where are you dying to go? Make it happen, get googling.

It’s that simple. Before you know it you will have incorporated travel into your very busy, stressful everyday life and built up points to continue doing so. You don’t have to break the bank or dramatically quit your job to see the world, but be careful because you’ll want to, trip by trip.

How do you balance work, life and travel?


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