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How to Travel the World While Working Full Time

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By Becky Mahan

Travel reportedly reduces stress, increases joy, and all sorts of magical things. But for many people it's a difficult thing to do - and the two biggest concerns are lack of time and lack of money. Having money to travel is another issue (and a different article), there are plenty of ways to get around the whole time thing. Think you can't travel because you work a nine-to-five and you're tethered to the rock-bottom 2-week-per-year American vacation time? Think again. These are some great ways to work a full-time job and still see the world:

1. Work remotely

Okay, we know, duh. If everyone had the opportunity (and wanted) to do this, they would, right? Obviously, it's not a reality for everyone to work from a laptop as they traipse the world, but it can be a temporary one. Consider asking your boss if you can work for a week (or however long) out of the office. If you're a good employee, your work environment allows it, and your boss is awesome, it just might be your ticket to a tropical island getaway - without missing a beat of the work routine. Just be sure you're disciplined enough to get a day's work done while sipping Mai Tais by the pool - so you can have your evenings to explore.

2. Weekends are your friends

If working remotely is just not an option, then do what you can to maximize your paid time off. Master the art of weekend travel: head to the airport or hit the road right after work on Friday (if you can come in earlier and get off earlier, even better), then return late night Sunday or early morning Monday. You won't have time to fly around the world in this amount of time, but you can score a decent couple of days in a new city.

Take up residence in one of America's most beautiful small towns or a hip mid-sized city for your weekend retreat.


3. Be smart about your vacation time

As obvious as this one sounds, studies show that American employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation (say what?!) and about 40% of Americans don't even use their vacation time. Not only should you be USING this time off (it's important for your mental health, and thus your productivity and overall performance at work), you should use it wisely. Bookend those holidays and weekends - they're already days off. If you've got a holiday weekend with the holiday on Monday, consider using a vacation day for Friday - or two for Thursday and Friday -- and voila, you've got a 5-day vacation that only uses 2 of your precious PTO days. The week between Christmas and New Year's is golden, too: many companies already take these holidays off (usually two days for each holiday, given Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve), so with a little maneuvering, you can slot in minimal vacation days between these holidays and the weekends for a nice long getaway.


4. ...and remember, you don't have to go far

Vacation doesn't HAVE to be in an exotic, far-off land. You can have just as memorable an adventure in a town you've never been to - even just an hour away. Don't burn yourself out (or waste precious time) on a weekend getaway that uses up half the time just getting there. Pick a place just a few hours' travel away for a weekend trip, and save the farther places for longer vacations. The point is to get out and see new places.

Have more vacation time during the summer? Or are you lucky enough to have a job with summers off? Here are 9 summer vacations that will change your life.

5. Don't rely on others

It's already tricky enough trying to arrange your own vacation time; don't rely on others' schedules to make it happen. If your travel partner has a similar vacation schedule, you both want to go to the same place, and you can sync up, then great - but don't make your trip contingent on it. Don't be afraid to go alone if it means that or staying home.

Read our editor's post on safety tips for solo female travelers.


6. Consider different benefits

If you have the opportunity to ask or negotiate the terms of your benefits package, consider asking for time instead of money. Do the math, and weigh a small percent salary increase against a couple extra days of paid vacation - which would you rather have? Similarly, when starting a new job, negotiate for the extra time off in exchange for declining other employer-paid benefits you might not find as beneficial. The worst they can say is no -- and you have nothing to lose.

Don't stress about forfeiting a small salary increase -- you can still travel well on a budget.


7. Take unpaid vacation days

If all else fails, consider taking unpaid vacation time. You only live once.

Trip.com's mission is to find people places to eat, stay, and play that are perfect for them. Make the most of those vacation days and plan the perfect adventure on our mobile app.

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