I Love to Travel But I Also Love My Paycheck



by DIWYY · 22 comments

In the last six years or so, I have traveled to dozens of countries including Tanzania, Nepal and Peru. And I did it all while having a full-time job. Many think it can’t be done but I am here to prove that you can have the best of both worlds: a paycheck and a full passport!

I graduated from U.C. Berkeley on a Friday in May of 2004 and literally began full-time employment the following Tuesday at a popular Silicon Valley company. Even though I wasn’t really get paid all that much, when you’re going from making nothing to making something, suddenly something is awesome. After that job came to a close a few months later, I found myself temping at another tech company where my job was solely to be the receptionist. As you would imagine, I wasn’t Follow Me on Pinterest all that busy so I spent most of my time online. A few days later, I had booked a trip to Costa Rica with my brother for the following week. Upon return, I got a job at another small tech company which also gave my plenty of free time as they never seemed to have enough work for me. This time, my hours of web browsing paid off when I won a trip to Antarctica from Adventure Center (the trip itself was organized by Peregrine Adventures).

I settled into a more permanent role in 2005. You know, the kind of job with 401(k) matching, stock options and very nice healthcare benefits. Once I got settled into my role, about 9 months or so, I decided it was time to start traveling again. First stop, New Zealand with Contiki. Once I came back, I was ready for more – Galapagos in springtime, Peru in the summer…now you’re starting to get the picture, right? Like my company’s fiscal calendar, my holidays became quarterly. While I have become more fiscally conscious in the last year or so as utility bills, student loan payments and the urge to build a nest egg have crept up, my sense of adventure has not come to a screeching halt. Instead, I am much more creative in my saving and planning.

Want to travel and work like me? Check out my tips:

1)      More or Longer? I have opted to have more, shorter holidays than just one or two longer ones. By having a milestone to look forward to every 3-4 months, I feel like I am more productive at work and happier in life. The ability to do a “mini-refresh” periodically also helps immensely.

2)      Utilize holidays, if possible. Have a bank or public holiday randomly in the middle of a month? Build your holiday around it as a way to use one less, precious vacation day. Try to travel a few days before and after it so you don’t incur the inflated holiday rates.

3)      Save money, even if it’s not cool. I was lucky enough to live rent-free for a few years after college which allowed me to fund my travels. My mom was quite alright with this arrangement since I was using my money to see the world. Sure, it wasn’t the coolest thing in the planet when I was out on a date and the elusive, “So, where do you live?” question came up but when I can talk about that time I was standing on the Equator in Quito, scuba diving with sharks at the Siam Aquarium in Bangkok or standing on the Great Wall of China, I was feeling much cooler.

4)      Make extra cash. If you’re determined to travel, you’ll make it happen. I worked part-time at a local drug store on weekends as a cashier for a while, I babysat long after my teen years had passed and I sold anything humanly possibly on eBay and Craigslist. If there is a will, there is a way. While the amounts might not be life changing, that extra income can easily turn into your spending money for your next holiday.

5)      Find an awesome company with an awesome boss. While this one is not innately easy, when you find a company that values work-life balance and a boss that appreciates your urge to see the world, awesome travel experiences seem to come naturally. How can you find this out? Ask around – either to friends or on message boards like LinkedIn – to find out which companies offer generous paid time-off, sabbaticals or flexible work environments. During the interview process, try to weave travel into the conversation. Aspire to work abroad? Ask your potential boss if they ever have. If someone comments on your study abroad experiences (which I definitely recommend including on your resume), ask them if they studied abroad. Usually, you can quickly get a sense about the people you’d be working with. If they were a traveler in their younger years, they’ll more likely to help you have similar experiences.

6)      When you’re in the office, be a rock star. When you proudly announce you’ll be taking two weeks off to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro and scuba dive in Zanzibar, you want your boss and colleagues to see it as a well-earned break, not another attempt at evade work. Put in your fair share and maybe even offer to help a colleague so that they’ll be more likely to help back you up when you are out. Also, rock stars end up with larger bonuses and more stock which all translate to more travel funds.

Have another tip for balancing work and travel?  Post it here!

Kristina Wegscheider is one of the co-founders of Do It While You’re Young as well as a Human Resources Professional. Her personal motto is to prove that you can have a paycheck and a full passport.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Branham 1

Great write up! I have worked FT for years and have done lots of traveling. It isn’t easy but save vacation time and money and plan wisely. It definitely helps to have an understanding company and boss to work for. Even if you can’t take long holidays, I really like #1 and may try to do more of that myself! I did that this weekend and came back to work today. The downside of this though – it makes me want to quit my job and travel more! But there goes that paycheck thing! :)

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DIWYY Kristina 2

I know what you mean – shorter holidays means more days coming back to piles of work. But I feel it’s worth it! I try to share workloads with co-workers so we can help manage workloads when each other are out.

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Tightrope Traveler (Tina) 3

Thank for sharing!

I agree with you – it is totally possible – as I’ve been doing so the past 3 yrs. =)

But is there a way to live a blanced lifestyle with working full-time AND traveling-full time? As this is my aspiration!

I’m in search of living a balanced lifestyle making $$$ and discovering international must-sees!

Would love to hear your thoughts/ recommendation on this!

Thanks!
-Tina

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DIWYY Kristina 4

If you can snag a work with international traveler, that would be ideal. I have a co-worker who travels for work quite often and always tags on a few extra days to explore the city in-depth or visit somewhere nearby. After all, work has to pay to get you to and from, right? Might as well throw a few days in there and then indulge a little more on the room and board.

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Tightrope Traveler (Tina) 5

What do your co-worker do?
Because I’m looking for a job that allows me to travel! ;)

Can you share any tips of ways I can obtain such a job =)

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DIWYY Kristina 6
Brett 7

Sort of a tie-in with number 5, but be sure to let your bosses know that you are willing to travel for business. It’s surprising how many people, especially in the US, do not want to do business travel. Be very open and volunteer / make sure they know you are willing to travel, and when they have a trip that is needed and no one to go, they may come to you and ask you to make the trip. Once you start doing this regularly, it’s not that uncommon to be able to add a couple personal days at the start or end of the journey to help you get to some otherwise unreachable destinations without necessarily having to pay for the flight yourself. And be sure to check your company’s travel policy, some companies let you keep the frequent flier miles / hotel loyal points earned on your business trips…

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DIWYY Kristina 8

Great advice Brett! I definitely try to volunteer myself at every chance I get! I went to Chicago for a conference a few years ago and tacked on a few extra days to see the city – definitely worth it since the “business trip” was spent in the inside of a hotel meeting room!

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Sean 9

Wow, why make travel so complicated? Pick up your ruck, walk down the road, and if you need money…. well look for a job. No Berkeley Tech degree or 50,000$+ plus a year job necessary. I’m just saying you make it sound like you need piles of money just to move around a bit; not at all the case.

If this was written to be more of a two week summer vacation thing, then just disregard my last.

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DIWYY Jerri 10

Thanks Sean – We all have different travel styles. Kristina travels way differently than I. She plans her adventures. On the other hand, I’m inclined to just pick up and go like you said.

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Runaway Brit 11

I totally agree that travelling with the security of a paycheck is great. You don’t have to worry about running our of money and you can splurge every now and then on a nice meal/cocktail. I am a high school teacher so I get 14 weeks of holiday a year which is great for travelling.

I taught at an International school in Vietnam for 3 years too which was great for weekend jaunts to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand or Kuala Lumpur. Great times!

This year I have quit my job to go travelling. Even though I know I’ll have a great time, I sure will miss that salary!

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DIWYY Kristina 12

I completely agree with the security part – it is nice knowing that I can dip into my savings if I find something I must have or an experience I must do.

I have also found perks with my company’s benefits – our travel insurance covers both business and personal travel! When my luggage was lost, they were able to help me quickly locate it and arrange for transport to me – and that service cost me nothing!

Have fun on your travels! Are you doing RTW?

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 13

I absolutely think it’s possible to do both and I couldn’t advocate it more!!!

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DIWYY Kristina 14

Thanks for the support Andi! Where is your next adventure to?

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Turner 15

Good tips, though frankly I’d rather “waste” money on my own place rather than live with my parents, even at the expense of travel. Too awkward.

Reporting from South Korea.

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Alouise 16

This is a great post. I think there’s a lot of advice for people to quit their job and travel the world. And if you’re not getting anything out of your job, if you dread going to work then I think it’s fine to follow that. But I think there’s a lot of people who like their jobs, and still want to travel. For me I can’t travel all the time, but when I can travel it makes me appreciate it more.

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DIWYY 17

Thanks Alouise! I completely agree which is what prompted me to write this. I think more people should try to find work-travel balance!

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Shereen 18

I love this post, since so many people are all about RTW travel and backpacking across continents. I need my job and love my dog and family. I would just like to travel a little bit more throughout the year. Usually, we do a big trip and then maybe a few weekend trips. One day I might get a job that is more understanding about me taking more time for myself. We have to make up for those people that are sad and never go ANYWHERE.

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Vanessa 19

I completely agree! I love travel, but I also like my house, my dog & my family. Often people say to give up nearly everything to travel, and if that works for them, fantastic! But that’s not our style.

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Glenda 20

I feel that this is very unrealistic in my career. I would have to change my career to be able to have a work life balance, which I am really considering :)

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Aliah 21

I love this article! I’m a college student and its weird because while I am planning on my future career, I also want to plan in plenty of time to see all the world has to offer. I think the best option for me is to teach. I know I would enjoy it and the work schedule with a break in the summer is the perfect way for me to be able to travel as well. I always struggle with my two personalities: the part of me that wants to drop everything and travel and the part of me that wants a stable home and to be around to see my little brothers and sister grow up.

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