How to Travel with Limited Vacation Time

The internet is full of travel bloggers who live on the road long term, and I love reading their stories and seeing their pictures. I think that living abroad would be the ultimate adventure, and I hope that I have the chance to have that adventure someday. However, that day is not today.

Today, I worked 8 hours in my Nashville office. While I probably stared at a computer too much and definitely sat too long, my work had a direct impact on people’s lives. Figuring out creative ways to help small businesses may not sound quite as exciting as spending the day drinking from a coconut in Thailand, but I actually think of both as adventures…. just different types of adventures.

Unfortunately, my adventure here in nonprofit micro finance land offers limited vacation time to pursue my adventures abroad. So how do I balance my day job with travel?

Never Underestimate the Power of a Weekend

My top tip for using the least possible number of vacation days on an international trip is simple: utilize your weekends. A 10 day trip abroad only needs 6 vacation days if you take a Friday off work and take Monday through Friday of the following week. If possible, fly out Thursday after work and take further advantage of your free time that evening without using any additional vacation time.

Combine Holidays with Weekends to Really Stretch Your Limited Vacation

Aside from the holidays that you are planning to spend with family, see what holidays you’ll have off during the year. Do any of those holidays fall on a Friday or Monday? If so, you have a built in three day weekend right there for a short trip, or an option to use less vacation days for an international trip. My upcoming trip to Austria, Germany and Hungary includes two weekends and the Good Friday holiday.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

Just like most things worth doing, travel is a choice. The true plight of having limited vacation time is that travel has to be balanced with all your other obligations outside of work (weddings, graduations, holidays with family and that staycation you really wanted to take so that you could get some work done on your apartment). At the end of the day, travel has to be a priority, or you'll find those limited vacation days slipping away as they are used on other obligations throughout the year.

Do you have any additional tips for balancing work with travel? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!