4 Ways to Make Meaningful Travel Happen with a Full-Time Job

Travel or work? Work or travel? In our current society, it seems these choices are mutually exclusive. It’s one or the other, even if you have the desire for purposeful travel. 

This is particularly challenging for modern-day travelers who want to explore meaningful adventures. Many hope to buck the traditional all-inclusive resort vacation in favor of transformative travel and giving back to the communities they visit. The one large obstacle standing in the way, of course, is a full-time job.

Frustratingly, the old adage of “money and no time vs. time and no money” feels like a life sentence.

Rest assured though, you have options! Here are 4 hacks for making purposeful travel happen even while employed full-time:

  1. Work Remotely

Working remotely or telecommuting, as it’s commonly referred to, has gone from an obscure novelty to a steadily growing trend in recent years. In fact, over 40% of Americans now work remotely at least part-time, up from just 9% a decade ago. 

This occupational option is great for getting things done in your pajamas, but it’s also perfect for aspiring travelers. If you already telecommute, use this flexibility wisely. Take the family on an ecotourism excursion while still making time to respond to important emails and attend meetings virtually. While some may say this takes away from the purpose of a vacation, beggars can’t be choosers – it’s tough to have it all!

If you aren’t a remote worker already, try pitching the idea to your employer and see if they’re open to trying it out, even if just for a few weeks. Oftentimes this working arrangement can reduce company overhead while increasing employee satisfaction. Sounds like a winning combination. 

Working remotely has never been easier with the global rise of co-working sites.

These shared work locations conveniently provide both the tools (think internet, printers, projectors, etc.) and the needed office space (meeting rooms, private desk space, etc.), so you can prep for that big end of the month presentation after a day of teaching English to local communities. Co-working space is available at a wide range of prices. Plan ahead for your destination and budget it into your travel costs.

  1. Have your work pick up the tab

Selling your place of employment on paying for your adventure seems like a pipe dream, right? While bankrolling the entire trip may be a stretch, more companies are encouraging their employees to give back through volunteer travel. This is often done in the form of company-sponsored volunteer days.

Check with your organization to see if your trip gathering data for leopard conservation efforts could qualify as volunteering. This may take some convincing on your part, but remember, your employer can tout your purposeful work as a company-wide accomplishment.

  1. Become a logistics champion

Did you know that where you live can have a huge impact on the amount of paid time off you receive? Those living in the United States, unfortunately, are part of the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its employees paid vacation time. This fact means it’s ever-important to maximize the time you do have off. 

With this in mind, be proactive and look at your company’s yearly schedule ahead of time. Strategically turn a national holiday plus a weekend into a week off without using all your vacation days. Or make that three-day weekend really count by tacking on one more day off. Four days may not sound like much, but it’s enough time for a Havana weekend getaway to experience the vibrant Cuban culture while supporting local artisans.

You could also add a few extra days to a business trip. If work takes you somewhere interesting for a conference, plan to stay longer and make the most of your new surroundings. Exploring more than the inside of your hotel room is a must!

Sure, it may take some thoughtful planning to best utilize time away from work, but your future adventure is more than worth it. 

  1. Negotiate!

We touched on this subject briefly in working remotely, but this topic deserves further discussion. You truly have the power to negotiate!

Work/life balance is attainable if you play your hand well. 

Take, for instance, the fact that organizations spend millions annually for training and onboarding. Clearly, they would much rather keep their current employees (aka YOU) in addition to the time and money it would take to replace you. Countless studies show the mental and physical health benefits of travel, so use this information to your advantage. Your company knows a happy employee is a productive employee. Here are some options to consider when negotiating with your employer:

  • Instead of small pay increases, negotiate for unpaid leave

Your annual review may put you in line for a bump in pay, but if it’s only a minimal increase, why not ask for unpaid leave time instead? Time (to travel) is often more valuable than money.

There’s a reason why university professors take one-year sabbaticals. At times we all need to be refreshed and reinvigorated. Businesses stand to benefit as the positive results of sabbaticals can last long after employees return to work.  

  • Free up more travel time with a compressed work schedule

In many ways, the 9 to 5 work schedule for five days a week feels archaic. If given the option, doesn’t four 10-hour days or even three 13-hour days sound more appealing? This schedule isn’t for everyone, but those willing to broach the subject with employers may be rewarded with more time to seek out sustainable travel opportunities such as dolphin monitoring in Croatia with the Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation.

To be clear, purposeful travel with a full-time job does require sacrifices and some work. But it is possible!

With some creativity and the right strategy, your travels can hit the perfect trifecta – benefiting you, your employer, and the people and places you serve!

Scott Dye is the Marketing Coordinator for Discover Corps, an organization that offers Vacations with Purpose for families and friends including nature & wildlife adventures and cultural explorations in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, Cuba, South America, and the Caribbean. An adventure lover himself, Scott believes travel can change people, perspective and the planet.

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