Hello all! I’ve recently started to travel so much in the last two years. It’s been my goal after college to see the world and experience different cultures. But how have I been able to do that while having a full-time job? How have I been about to afford it? How do I plan these trips? These are all questions I’m going to be answering! I’m a Software Engineer by trade and optimizing is my speciality! I’ve learned how to optimize, how to save, and design my trips to the T. I hope you enjoy and can use some of my tip and tricks.
How do you travel when you have a Full-Time Job?
If you didn’t know, I’m a Software Engineer in the Seattle area. I’ve been working for around two years so far and it’s been great. Since technology companies are such an integral part of Seattle, it only made sense to go into tech. The job market is great, the pay is greater, and the benefits are greater than great (teehee).
In our current time and age, boasting work-life balance is one of the best ways to get people to want to work for you. My company (which I’m not going to say) is definitely one of them. I get around 15 vacation days, 5 personal days, 10 holidays, and unlimited sick time. This is the main reason why I can travel so much.
When wanting to travel as much as myself, I’ve learned that I needed to know my benefits. Here are some questions you need to ask your employer before planning a year full of trips:
- How many vacation days do you get?
- Are these vacation days allotted at the start of the year or accumulated day by day?
- If they’re accumulated, can you go negative a certain amount?
- How many personal days do you get?
- Can you use these personal days all in a row? How many?
- Is it ok to mix personal and vacation days for a trip?
- How many trips are too many in a period of time?
These are all questions that are important to get answered. Knowing these answers can help you finesse a few trips in a year and maximize the number of trips and their length of days.
I also think if you plan to take more than one long trip, talking to your manager about it. I’ve just finished my three trips that I planned, and they were very close together. In December I went to Japan, February in Hawaii, and April in Greece. That’s a six month span with only a month and a half between each trip. That was definitely a conversation that I needed to have with my manager.
How do I optimally plan my trips?
I love optimization. In my job, daily, I’m always learning how to do things better and faster. That translates toward my planning for trips. I’m wondering how I optimize my vacation time, money and days.
Generally when I plan a trip, I make sure to overlap a lot on weekends. For my Greece trip, I overlapped on two weekends. I left on the 11th and came back on the 23rd. That’s four extra days that I don’t have to take out of my vacation days. Always overlap on the weekend as much as possible!
Is there a holiday? I would also overlap on holidays too! It’s a great way to get paid and not have to use a day of your vacation time.
Besides figuring out how to get the most of your vacation time, I also make sure I optimize and plan my travel time to the T. There’s nothing worse than waiting around with your bags and not being able to go on your way. When I’m planning out my travel days, I make sure it’s as flush as possible with my check-in time. If it’s impossible, I would message your hotel or AirBnB and see if they can take your bags before.
How Can I afford to take these vacations?
People always wonder how I can afford to take these vacations. I have three words for you: plan, research, and save. All of these are necessary if you want to take a trip and have most of the costs be super low. I wrote a previous blog post on how I planned and budgeted for my trip to Italy. There are some great tips there!
I will say, it is 100% ok to not travel more than once in a year. If you can’t afford to travel more, then optimize the time that you do. If you’re going out of the country, then make the most of it by traveling to a lot of different places. Budget out your money for each city so you don’t over-spend.
Planning ahead and buying up AirBnB’s early is also super important. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve last minute booked my AirBnB’s and regretted it. Not only do you not get the best places, but you also don’t get the best bang for your buck. For Greece, I made sure to be proactive with my group of girls in terms of booking. My boyfriend and I didn’t plan well for Japan and we went to some of the AirBnB’s and found they didn’t measure up to what we expected. It’s important to do it soon and do it fast.
I know I’m harping but planning is the key to optimizing your money, time, and vacation allotted time. I hope this has helped you plan your future travels!