It's funny when people ask me "How do I do it?" Or my other favorite response is “Whoa, I could never!" To all the people who bless me with their questions and comments, I want you to know that there is no excuse good enough to hold you back from traveling. Even though I have many obligations, I still find time to book a trip. Hopefully how I manage my schedule can help you book your next trip! Some may view my lifestyle as stretching myself thin, I just see it as making the most out of my time here on Earth.
So, let's go back to the original question: How do I balance work, school, and traveling?
Even though I love to travel, I’m just not ready to quit my job to travel the world. I have a career goal that I take very seriously. Therefore, I do have a 9-5 corporate job.
PTO: Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited paid time off (PTO) and I can’t really work remotely because of the field I’m in, but I don’t let that hold me back! Since my PTO is limited, when booking trips, I always include the weekend. Those two extra days can always be used to extend a trip. Since I’m starting to increase the number of trips I take, I make the trips shorter. When I went to California I only missed 2 days of work, but I was away from Friday night – Wednesday night. Even though I would love to take a week off for every trip I can’t. Therefore, I make my trips about 4 – 5 days long depending on the destination. Of course, two of those days would be the weekend so I only need about 2 PTO days for my trip.
Office Holidays: When I don’t feel like using PTO, I wait for the days that my job is closed due to holidays. Sometimes this doesn’t always work for budget travel because those holidays are usually when flight tickets are the highest.
Redeye: Another tip that helps is booking redeye flights. Being able to work during the day, fly at night, and land at your new destination in the morning is the best feeling. I love getting a head start to my day. When I return from trips, I don’t take the day after off. Those post trip relax days really add up and I can’t afford to lose days that way. Thankfully my mother has raised me to be super productive so when my flight from London landed at 1:00am, I was still at my desk by 8:45am.
Balancing 3 classes and work is hard enough. Throw in traveling and everything gets hectic for me.
Time Management: Commuting to 3 night classes after work got annoying very quick, but that wasn’t what bothered me the most. It was the assignments and papers that drove me crazy. Every time I booked a trip it just happened to fall around the time I had papers due. This schedule left me with 3 choices. Do the work before, while on the trip or cram it in after. Even though I always plan to complete the papers before, I somehow end up cramming the papers in a few days before there due. I don’t recommend this at all, it’s such a nuisance. When I went to London for spring break, all of my papers were due when I came back. I also had an exam to study for before I left. My goal was to have the papers done before the trip. My new goal was to do the papers on my flight. The result was a large dose of caffeine and completing the papers a few days before they were due. Some people call this procrastination, I call it living. Is it procrastination if I know the papers will eventually get done even if I just don't know when? (Can I also add that I got A’s on my papers!)
Attendance: Skipping class is hard to manage because I can only be absent, so many times before the professor takes points off. I always save the maximum number of absences the professor allows for my trips. I also try to book my trips when the school is closed (spring break and national holidays). The less classes I miss the better, because playing catch up isn’t fun. I always make sure I have the contact information of another student in class so we can exchange notes and help one another out.
Online Classes: To avoid the headache of absences, take online classes! You can take the class with you regardless where you are. Just make sure you have all the supplies needed before you head off. When I went to California, my book didn’t come in time so completing the assignments was extremely hard, but I managed.
Using money as an excuse is something I will never understand because traveling is not expensive.
Flexibility: Travel become expensive when you’re not flexible. Usually, when I book a trip I never pick the destination first, I let Skyscanner pick it for me. I just travel where it’s cheapest for the dates I want.
Budget Accommodations: Thankfully hostels and Airbnb’s have allowed me to not waste money on overpriced hotels. My Airbnb for Toronto cost $64 a night compared to a hotel I found for $190 a night.
Food: Eating can also be affordable if you cook most of your meals. Who says you must eat out all the time? Basic groceries are all over the world. You can eat out once a day instead of three.
Save: Not spending money on stuff I don’t need helps me travel a lot. For example, I don’t eat out a lot, canceled my gym membership, and don’t party every weekend. Little hacks like that can really have a positive effect on your wallet. I also have a saving accounts that is set up to automatically deduct money from my paycheck so that I can always have money to travel. When I book flights, I always want the best deal. I try to be super flexible by keeping my dates and destinations open so that I can spend the least amount of money. Sometimes the redeye flight will be more expensive, but when you have obligations like me you will pay the extra fee so that your flight can accommodate your busy schedule.
Transportation: I never take taxis and I’m sometimes hesitant to Uber. Those bills really add especially if you are traveling alone. My go to mode of transportation are my two feet. They can take me anywhere, I see a lot, their free, and I get to squeeze in some exercise. When I hear something is 5 miles away, I have no problem walking it. Call me crazy, or just call me your typical New Yorker. If I don’t feel like walking then I take public transportation. It helps me explore and live like a local.
Just Book It
It's not easy to have everything work together, but it's fun to try! I won't lie to you, I do get tired, stressed, and sometimes cry. The whole balance thing is a struggle, but it’s a challenge I love to tackle. I really enjoy what I do and embrace having the natural energy to wake up and show up for life. Not many people can do this, and spend their whole life complaining about it. The minute I start committing to morning coffees (#TeamTea) to wake up is the moment I know I need to find something new to do. I’m truly thankful for all the travel bloggers who share their tips and success with the world. It really helps me manage my trips.
Melissa is a human resource professional and a full-time student who always makes time to travel. Her life changed when she studied abroad in London and visited 8 other countries. She currently uses her travel blog to show others how convenient traveling can be, regardless of work and school. You can find Melissa on Instagram at @LissTheTravelist and read more about her travels at LissAbroad.com.