Balancing Travel and a Career

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

For the past 8 years, I've been balancing my love of travel with college and then with a career in finance. For the past 3 years in particular, I've travelled internationally and domestically using just my weekends and allotted vacation days away from the 8 to 5 cubicle. While balancing travel and a career may seem daunting (especially for my readers working for American companies that have yet to embrace the European take on annual vacation days), it is all about focused planning.

Defining Priorities

Prioritizing is an often overlooked component of trip planning, in my opinion. This step is particularly important when you have a limited amount of days off work to begin with. Spend some time prior to requesting days off work for the year to decide which family and friend events (graduations, weddings, holidays, etc.) you absolutely can't miss… and which events you may be able to part with in favor of a trip to a new country or city. After your "can't miss" events are on the calendar, count up how many days you have left to travel.

Making the Most of Your Vacation Days and Holidays

While you have that annual work calendar open, go ahead and check which days you get off as paid holidays, if any. Paid holidays are very important for those of us balancing travel and a career: often these fall on a Friday or a Monday, which means a built in three day weekend and one less precious vacation day that you have to use for your trip!

Choosing a Location That Makes Sense

The next step is to consult your back-of-napkin location list. This list obviously doesn't have to be on the back of a napkin (mine isn't even written down) but most travel addicts have several countries and cities running through their head at all times that they're itching to visit. But there is one unfortunate truth for those of us balancing travel and a career: some locations just don't make sense.

Taking into account travel time, narrow down the list. Unless you have quite a block of days to devote to a trip, Asia or Australia may not be the best option if you are traveling from the US (consider how many days the flights will consume, and how quickly you can hit the ground running with 12-hour-time-difference-kick-your-butt jetlag).

Get Logistics Out of the Way So You Can Enjoy

While most world travelers I've met tend to be more easygoing than your average person, picking up a temporary type-A gene when you are balancing travel and a career can make your trip a lot more enjoyable. Go ahead and think about stays and transportation from place to place - when these two aspects are locked in, it is a lot easier to make the most of your time when you arrive.

Are you balancing travel and a career? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments!