Did you set any New Year’s resolutions for 2016? Do any of them include breaking away from the office to travel more? Are you struggling to travel more while managing your career? Today we are sharing with you our 7.5 tips to balancing travel and career.
Wow, crazy to think January 2016 is 80% over. We had a whirlwind last couple weeks of 2015 and start to 2016 doing one of our favorite things….travel! More on that in the coming weeks.
Since 2008, we feel we have successfully managed to maximize our limited vacation days by breaking away from the office for travel experiences while not sacrificing career success. We are proud of this considering that, according to this article, American’s are only using 51% of their eligible vacation time. Let’s reverse this trend in 2016 and not use careers as an excuse not to travel!
Here are our tips to ensuring you travel while not sacrificing your career.
1. Plan Your Big Trip Early
We try to go on at least one international trip each year. In order to maximize our time and budgets, we like to go for a minimum of 10 days when we travel overseas. It helps to outline any known trade shows or major corporate events that would limit your ability to break away from the office at certain points in time during the year. This way, you know early which months to focus on for potential vacation time. Knowing the months that you can more easily break out of the office will help you choose the optimal destinations based on time of year. Also, having something tentatively on the calendar to look forward to helps us stay excited throughout the year as we anticipate the trip. Planning is key to balancing travel and career.
2. Travel during popular vacation time
We find there are periods throughout the year when there are larger numbers of people out of the office thus making it easier to take time off as well. Lately we have found that the time around 4th of July has been a perfect time to break away for 2 weeks without getting too far behind on work. As a bonus, we get a “free day” without having to use a vacation day since there is a paid holiday. Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and Labor Day are great options to plan around as well. As we have continued to find career success, this tip has becoming increasingly more important to keep our goals on track for both travel and career.
3. Communicate your Plans!
Once you have the general time of year for your trip, communicate your plans within the office so they are aware of your desires for both travel and career. You can easily weave this into conversations where appropriate so the team is aware in advance of your time off. Block the days on your calendar early. We find that advance notice of your extended time out will set expectations with your managers, co-workers and customers so they are anticipating your time off and trying to avoid conflicts. We have been doing this for so long, that co-workers are now anticipating our trips. I don’t even have to be as proactive as they are asking us “Where are you traveling this year?”
4. Mooch off your spouse
Is your spouse traveling for work? Fly to meet them at their destination and really blend travel and career. There was a period of time when I had an annual work trip to NYC. Brian LOVED flying out with me and being a solo traveler while I worked. He would stay in the hotel with me and have a great location to explore from. He loves traveling as a party of one as he was able to get into many restaurants, matinee Broadway shows and even a few tapings of Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman.
5. Extend a work trip in the work destination
We love this option to help keep costs down a bit for both ourselves and the company. When one of us has a work trip, we’ll extend the trip and the other will fly to meet them on the weekend. The great part about it is you only have to purchase one plane ticket. As a bonus, it’s typically cheaper for the company when you extend the flights to the weekend thus it’s a win-win! We had the luxury of exploring both New Orleans and Barcelona, Spain last year by extending business trips.
6. Celebrate the Milestones
Having a milestone anniversary or birthday? Take a trip to celebrate! If you find your company still frowns upon extended time out of the office, try to go in conjunction with celebrating a major life milestone and you may get more acceptance. The year I turned 30, we decided to take a trip to hike Machu Picchu in Peru. This was difficult because we went in October and it wasn’t around a holiday. Also, we would have a solid 4 days without any mobile devices or way to connect back in. As I was communicating the plans early with my co-workers, I discussed how the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu was a major bucket list item that I wanted to complete as part of my milestone birthday celebration. Making it a bit more personal allowed me to take the time off with support of my co-workers!
7. Road trips to explore places within driving distance
Sometimes you need a quick break and long weekends are the perfect way to do it. If there is a Friday that you can sneak away, try checking to see what destinations are within tolerable driving distance to you. We frequently head to Austin and it’s such a nice way to get away and explore the city or wine country. This year we have a goal of driving farther into West Texas for weekend trips to explore a bit more of the state of Texas! Regardless of your company’s culture regarding travel and career, you should be able to break away for at least a couple of long weekend trips throughout the year.
8. Explore your own city
Mini-tip: Don’t forget to travel within your own city! It is amazing the amount of activities you can find by just checking out your local area. Sites like Travelzoo, Groupon and LivingSocial also make it easy to find and plan for events close to home to give you a break from your daily routine.
What tips do you use to balance travel and career? We’d love to hear other ways you fit in travel without sacrificing career success.
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