How to Maximize Travel with a Full Time Job

People often wonder how I am able to travel as much while maintaining a full time job. The average Kenyan employee will get anything from 20 – 30 days off work annually. Last year, I used my 26 leave days to take 2 international trips and about 8- 10 local and regional trips. If the system won’t give us all the days we need for vacation then we have to find a way to beat the system. If you have been wondering how to travel more, keep reading for 15 awesome and feasible ways on how you can do it.

Pit-stop at The Great Rift Valley View Point, Kenya

  1. Make Travel a priority

This sounds rather obvious but really, for you to travel more travel needs to be a priority. I personally wake up every morning to go to work to get enough money for my next destination; I calculate value of money based on where I can go and what I can experience. When you make travel a priority then you can set travel goals and this becomes something to inspire you to reach your goals. Just like buying a car, a house, getting a promotion, etc, make a vision board, see all the places you want to visit and by when and make goals to make them happen. Each year I choose one destination that I either wanted to visit as a child or one of  the places that I recently totally fell in love with from different inspirations . I pin the photos, follow Instagram pages of these places and it becomes part of my daily thoughts and reaching that goal hence becomes practical.

  1. Plan Ahead

Of all the tips, this is the most crucial. It’s all in the planning and the earlier the better. Once you’re over the New Year Resolutions phase and you get to real planning then that is the time to set travel plans. Study your calendar, your desired destinations, bank holidays, your finances and see what is possible. Making plans at the beginning of the year helps as you can start saving early enough. In the beginning of the year, I set to increase my number of international trips to 3 from 2 in the past few years. There are those holidays like Easter and Christmas that are already set so you can easily plan with. Some people are lucky to be in companies where they close their offices in December but if you are not part of the lucky ones knowing when you need your leave days early is perfect.  You can get them approved way before your co-workers request – Hello to never working in December!  The general rule of thumb is that the earlier you book the cheaper it is.  So get planning….

Soaking some little winter sun in Cologne, Germany

  1. Say Yes – Spontaneity

Planning is great but being a yes man is even more awesome. I have a running joke with my colleagues where every time someone asked us to join on a trip or weekend away– my answer is always, “YES -my bag is packed, when we leave?”  With such a mentality and vibe, people are more inclined to ask you to join as they know you would hardly ever turn it down. There are constraints like having to work, money, family and other things that could hinder one from saying yes  but remember for you to excel in all these parts of your life, you need to be happy and if Travel makes you happy then saying Yes would be the best thing to say. So, whose ready to join in for 13th – 14th May, destination to be confirmed 🙂

  1. Take Staycations

You would be surprised what you have right in your backyard. This may not even need you to take any time off from your work. It could be anything from having lunch and chilling at Rolfs Place or having a tea tasting, tour and lunch at Kiambethu. This may seem small but they really increase your appreciation for your Hometown and work great as fillers for your Instagram 🙂

Enjoying our patio with a view at Maili Saba, Kenya

  1. Maximize on weekends and bank holidays

Most people work half day on Saturdays, I am on the lucky ones who work only Monday to Friday meaning every weekend has potential to cure a little bit of the ever growing wanderlust. Don’t fret just because you have to work Saturdays that’s why we all live for long weekends and bank holidays that fall on Sunday – Monday is free – YAY baby…On each particular month I can tell you all the holidays coming up for the next 3 months. Why? Because offers flood the market a few weeks to the holiday but if you book your mini getaway prior to it, you are likely to get a better deal. Extending holidays like Easter where you leave before and return after can also save you some bucks as the prices for everything double up on the holidays themselves.  So what is my plan for 1st June? I will take 2nd June off and have 4 day weekend, possibilities are endless with 4 days.

  1. Leave late and Wake Up Early

This is a tricky one unless you have convinced your body that it’s 16 and never tires. When I take my leave days, I would plan for a night flight right after my last work day and book a ticket returning Sunday night before I am to resume work on Monday.  Well let’s be honest 5/10 times I burnout in 3 days after resuming work  and get sick and then take 2 sick days off to “heal”. – This is actually cheating but ohh well it works :). When on the actual trip I maximize every minute from waking up at 5am to seeing Angkor Wat sunrise in Cambodia to joining a Pub Crawl in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. Every minute counts. As much as it may look appealing to cramp so many things into one trip, remember to take a minute and enjoy the time. It’s not just about ticking things off the list and off to the next.

Christmas  – sailing La Fairy Sails Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam

  1. Negotiate more vacation days

This would vary depending on the structure of your organization. One way to do it would be during your work review time whereby you could ask for more paid leave days over a financial benefit especially for the times where you know the financial benefit is not looking likely.  Most companies may be willing to consider it as it’s easier to part with time over money. You will not have more money but you will have more time to use the money you have to do something you love – WIN – WIN

  1. Take a non paid leave

This is one of the most daring but most gratifying things I have ever done. I took a yearlong sabbatical and explored the canals of Amsterdam, The Christmas markets of Koln, had my Holy Grail moments at Machu Picchu and made some of the very coolest friends ever. This was on the longer side of duration of time but you can negotiate with your employer to take 1 or 2 months off and forgo your pay for those months. You would need to rove to your employer that you are valuable enough for them to let you go and not replace you.  There so many options of minimizing on your expense such as volunteering your skills in exchange for food and bed, or looking into Workaway , CultureGoGo or  WWOF where the biggest expense [accommodation] is catered for.

Big Accomplishment smile at Machu Picchu, Peru

  1. Attend work conferences in other cities ( extend business trips)

Depending on your line of business you may have business trips or be needed to attend conferences, workshops, etc in other cities or countries. For my work this doesn’t apply –my work involves making everyone’s travel dreams come true from my lovely office space. Anyway, if you travel for work, why not take the opportunity to explore the area you visit. If it happens to align with a destination on your wish list, you can extend your stay post work and have some extra time for play. You could also take the initiative and find a conference or workshop that’s genuinely in line with your work and would be beneficial to you and the organization and happens to be in a location you would love to visit and carefully pitch the idea to your boss.  Would my boss approve me to go market Kenyan tourism in Greece – food for thought?

  1. Roll Over unused leave days

There times you don’t use your leave days for one reason or another. Like when I return from my unpaid leave I had some 10 paid leave days in arrears and rather than let them slide, I talked to HR and was able to utilize them the next year. So if one year you have fewer obligations and have great plans for the next year roll over the days to the next year and enjoy.

The stunning canals of Amsterdam

  1. Set Up a Bank Account for Travel

We all have numerous life obligations like rent, loans, car payments, mortgage that often end up being our excuses for not travelling. Why not set up a separate account for travel where you put US$100 (Kes 10,000) or whatever amount is manageable for you? It’s best to do a standing order so you will not have the excuse of “forgetting” to deposit the monies. Keeping your travel goal in mind and cutting back on other unnecessary expenses will help you reach your travel destination goal.

  1. Work Overtime 

Working overtime can apply in 2 different ways; one is working more hours for more pay or working longer hours so as to take some time off later. Either way, this can enable you to travel more. For my industry working overtime come with the territory so we get no extra money for it. However, I am able to get a Friday afternoon off after working for extended hours. This would therefore give me 2 ½ days for the weekend.

Breakfast with Encounter Mara at Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya

  1. Use Travel Hacks

Thanks to the world we currently live in there are numerous apps that check travel trends and advice you when to book, where to book, how to book etc. If your aim is to travel more, these apps should be your friends. Some of my favourite apps are Hopper and Kayak for flights, Booking.com for hotels and Skyscanner for where to go and when.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Go Alone

I have traveled alone for so many years because I enjoy it but also because it can be tough to find the perfect travel partner who will match your travel style, travel period, availability, flexibility etc. If you are open to travelling alone, it’s one less barrier to millions of travel joys awaiting you. I have finally found a great travel partner whom though we’ll not be together on all trips, I foresee many trips together – more on that on a different post.

  1. Just Do It

Soaking in some sun at Diani Beach, Kenya

Stop the excuses, save the money and JUST DO IT

To More adventures

Love & Love,

~Lea~

For more adventures with me

8 Comments

  1. Harriet

    Reply

    Thanks Lea for the,I ogle at your photos from all those destination, you inspired .e to want more for my life and shake it up ….thank you for being you and sharing your passion.

    • Lèa

      Reply

      Harriet I am so glad to be an inspiration and now with this tips you can now start having amazing photos as well. Thanks

  2. Ingrid

    Reply

    Dear Lea I simply loved your article! So well written, original and very very interesting! I have always valued your zest to live and travel! I just hope one day you visit my beautiful country, im sure you’ll find it like nothing you have seen before!

    • Lèa

      Reply

      Thanks querida Ingrid. I am so glad you liked the post. My dream for visit Mexico and having Oaxaca cheese , staying in a Hacienda, listen to mariachi as I stuff my face with great delicacies is all so real . The list is endless but I know one day it will happen.

  3. Reply

    Hi Lèa,

    great tips! I especially like the “just do it” because so many people love talking about how they need to go travel but then they stay at home (nothing wrong with that) and just do household chores or netflix. Even at home, there is so much to explore, to go away for the weekend, etc. Also, you idea with extending biz trips is really good, too.

    • Lèa

      Reply

      Thanks Annemarie, let’s keep doing IT and writing about it, I am sure we do inspire atleast one person to get up and GO.

  4. Reply

    Thank you Lea for such a positive and upbeat post. I loved the easy actionable steps. I too have a travel account. Another advantage of my no-fee travel account is that it’s at a different financial institution from my other everyday-use accounts. It has the funds I estimate I need for my trip. It gives me greater peace of mind that my other accounts and ATM card for those accounts aren’t affected if my travel account is fraudulently compromised in some way.

    • Lèa

      Reply

      Anne yes you are totally write my sisters cards have been stolen twice whilst travelling, she finally went on board with different pre paid card. Its one the best things that happened. Keep travelling 🙂

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