In collaboration with Kemi from Musings and Adventures, she brings us amazing travel tips for those of us who work a regular 9-5 job.
Here are her 10 Tips on Maximizing Travel with a 9-5:
Travel and Work Culture
If you’re like the rest of America, you have the standard two-week vacation which isn’t enough to satisfy your travel wanderlust. It doesn’t help that many Americans fall into the trap of sacrificing vacation and personal time on the path to career success. Wrong!
For years, Americans used up less vacation days than European peers and in 2016, we left 662 million unused vacation days.
Still, a 2017 study found that we’re getting better at using these days but men plan and use more vacation days than women. No surprises here and I don’t want to embark on a discourse about sacrifices women make in their lives for work but this informative study can be read here at Project: Time Off.
These tips might not resound with our European cousins who get as much as 30 days (what the flip?!) but maybe they can see how creative we get with our PTO. So here goes.
I sing this from the mountain tops. If you reside in a town or city, explore the closest major city and experience it like a tourist. Many of us go to towns and cities but never experience them the way they should be. We run through and out instead of seeing it all through fresh eyes.
Act like a tourist, hop on a tour bus or grab a map and do a walking tour the way I did in Philadelphia’s Historic District here. Not only did I experience a new city but it was a cheap bus ride using Wanderu and spent 10 full hours before returning to NYC.
You don’t even have to leave the state like I did and you can experience another city within your state in a day. As it gets warmer, I’ll begin with Hudson and make it a day trip or a weekend getaway for self-care, which is tip #2.
The same tip goes for staycations far from your abode. You can leave after work on a Friday or come in early, do an 8 hour shift (if applicable) and leave at 3pm to beat rush hour. A full Saturday and part of a Sunday does wonders to the body and soul. Some folks plan ahead and take either or both Thursday and Friday off to fully experience rejuvenation.
*If you’re in the corporate world and get floating and PTO days separately (like I do), make sure to use up your floating days first.
If you ever leave, you’re paid remainder PTO but not floating days. Tip from a veteran colleague.*
If you’re in Sales or any position that requires frequent travel, take advantage and stay back an extra day or weekend. Of course, it’ll be on your dime but you know that already. For example, if you finish on Thursday, stay two days and leave on Sunday. See? You can experience the local culture at your leisure.
My manager takes full advantage of this and always volunteers to travel. He was in Florida during one of the chilly snaps we had in NYC and we were green with envy when he talked about walking along the beach. Green! Lol.
This is an overlooked one as some retreats incorporate a day or two for employee bonding and sight-seeing.This is a great opportunity to spend 8 hours exploring a new city before returning to the crew.
There is a work group within my company with an annual retreat and the last one was in Mexico. I’m trying to get my manager to get me in but you know how the corporate world is. Don’t get me wrong, the group is identical to my career path and I want to get more involved, improve my hands-on experience blablabla…you get it 😉
Break it Up!
You can experience more if you strategically plan your travels in chunks. For example, I prefer leaving on Wednesday to take advantage of the weekend and return on a Sunday. That’s 3 vacation days out of your miserly quota.
Play around with days to maximize your getaway and get the best bang for your buck regarding travel costs.
Do this method every quarter and by year end, you would’ve taken 4 vacations. People might think that you won the lottery not knowing that it’s all strategy, like backgammon. Lol.
Alternatively, you can take 7 days off and travel twice a year. Of course, everyone’s work and life situation differs so do what suits you best.
Most people travel in summer because schools are out and kids tag along. This results in a lot of empty offices for at least 2 weeks.
I hear that some jobs deny summer vacations if a lot of people are booked to travel or it’s a first-applied-first-approved situation.
If you’re without children, travel off-season when destinations are much cheaper and less crowded.
In most firms, January is the quietest month of the year as the big bosses are on vacation too. Take advantage of this and plan a vacation.
I did this in January 2017 and went on a girl’s trip to Havana where the beaches were devoid of tourists, and visas, flights and accommodation cost us $300 apiece. Read here on my carefree Cuba trip.
If your vacation days accrue at year end, it works out best because you can spend 2 weeks away.
Unlimited Vacation Days
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS! *Clears throat* sorry for screaming. My colleague has this and I was initially green with envy until I heard the caveat: “…at manager’s discretion.” Of course.
I had visions of monthly getaways or a full travel month every quarter. I mean that’s what “unlimited” means, no?
Still, he’s mapping out cities well ahead of time: D.C. weekend for Easter and a 2 week summer in Florida.
That’s all he’s taking. Tragic! I prefer a raise to unlimited vacation days if that’s what it entails.
The best way to maximize travel time is by visiting cities adjacent to the main city you’re booking. For example, if you have a NYC trip planned, spare a day to visit Philly or Connecticut.
There are convenient buses and trains to these states because most people live here and commute to Manhattan.
The same strategy applies abroad too. Every major Euro city has high-speed trains to near-by Euro cities. For example, train rides from Paris to Brussels or Copenhagen to Malmo are available and affordable.
I recently squeezed in a day trip to Malmo and Lund from Copenhagen on a recent vacation and said post is here. The trip was the equivalent of $34 return from Denmark into Sweden over the Oresund bridge made famous by the Hulu Original series, The Bridge, which is a Danish serial murder mystery. I’m the only one who watched it?? Oh, ok then.
You can plan ahead and visit for a day, depending on distance, or stay overnight in affordable digs. See? You can squeeze in an extra city and country into your itinerary for cheap. Always make sure you know entry requirements of the city you want to squeeze in.
If you have a partner or spouse as an airline employee, you are lucky. Many airlines have generous travel perks for employees and a designated beneficiary.
Andre, a pal of mine, travels monthly because his wife is a long-time Delta employee.
They’ve been everywhere and experience great adventures that make me green with envy. Sigh.
They did Florida and a fortnight before that was Mexico. He’s looking at a cruise for April and who knows where else next? They pay only taxes and surcharges which are cheap in comparison to a full-price ticket.
This is rarer for travel experiences but some volunteer sporting or NGO events enable you to see a local town or city for a tiny fee.
A colleague did a bike-a-thon from NYC to D.C. for climate change action and the group passed through Amish country where they slept in a field and met Amish families. This was a new experience for all of them and they will never forget it.
Another colleague is a cyclist and bikes miles into rural New Jersey where the landscape is picturesque. As part of a group, they bike across NYC and Long Island to small villages and towns.
I hope these tips have inspired you to be creative with the PTO we get.
Travel doesn’t have to be international; it can be local or regional with adventures within and it should be enriching.
**All words, links and pictures used are courtesy of Kemi from Musings and Adventures. You can follow Kemi on Social Media here: Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Much appreciation to her for this collaboration.