It’s been a year since we arrived in London after our 100 day trip. We now have full time jobs, a flat, bills to pay and have unpacked our belongings into a wardrobe. What we haven’t done is slow down. It’s still possible to travel with a full time job. Since December last year we have spent;
- A Weekend in Bruges for the Christmas Markets
- 4 Days in Lisbon for New Years
- A weekend in Hamburg as an add-on to a work trip
- Two nights in Exeter
- 5 days on Fuertaventura at our first All Inclusive
- 3 Days in Brighton
- A weekend in Glasgow as a work trip add-on
- 9 Days in Greece and Albania
- Two Nights in Cardiff
- A weekend in the Cotswalds
- 9 days in Malta & Gozo
- 3 Nights in Cornwall
- A weekend at V Festival
- 9 Days in Portugal
- 4 Nights at Oktoberfest
- A weekend in Nottingham
For those of you who are good at maths you’ll see that thats 62 nights away from home! We’ve managed to do it using only 20 days of our Annual Leave. Coming up we still have a week in Estonia for Christmas and Hogmanay in Scotland for New Years to look forward to!
How do you travel with a full time job?
We get asked this question constantly. Contrary to every piece of advice that you read on the internet about “last minute deals” and “being spontaneous”, we manage through careful planning. We’ve got spreadsheets and budgets, calendar reminders and subscriptions to every sale site under the sun. I’m also a shameless bargain hunter.
Thankfully as we live in London we have tonnes of options for transport and destinations. With six airports (questionably everyone seems to include Southend) and easy Rail Links to the rest of the UK and Europe we’re spoilt for ways to get out. Regardless of how smart you are with your annual leave you’ve also got to be good with your money so that you can afford all the time off you’ve managed to wangle.
Make the most of Bank Holidays and Weekends
The key to making the most of your annual leave and being able to travel with a full time job is making the most of Annual Leave and Bank Holidays. By doing this we are managing to spend 70 nights away from home this year, and used only 25 days of Annual Leave.
The only way to achieve this is through careful planning of when you use your leave days. We make sure that every trip we book covers at least one weekend. For all of our summer trips this year we used two weekends and the week in between. This gave us 9 days out of the country, and only uses 5 precious annual leave days.
Adding one or two days onto a weekend can give you enough time for a quick city break. We used two days leave for a Friday and a Monday and managed to get all the way to Munich and back for Oktoberfest!
You can still travel with a full time job without annual leave. You just have to redefine exactly what travel is. Pick somewhere closer and make a weekend of it. This year we spent weekends in Brighton, Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham, Exeter and the Cotswalds without taking a day off work!
The best weekend of the year to do this is easter! You have Good Friday and Easter Monday off as bank holidays. Using only 8 days leave you can get 16 days away, 4 days leave for 10 days away or just add a couple on for something shorter. The opportunities are endless. Last year we added on a day and spent four nights at our first all-inclusive on Fuertaventura. Next year we’re using two days and spending 6 nights in Iceland!
Pick your travel times carefully
I cringe when I hear of people taking a days leave for a 3pm flight, or coming back on Saturday afternoon to save £50. Every hour of time off is valuable when you travel with a full time job. To make the most of our annual leave we always aim to leave early and come back late. Yes it means you’re tired for work but wouldn’t you rather be tired on company time than holiday time!? You’ll soon forget standing outside Stanstead airport in shorts and loafers in 2 degree weather waiting for the national express because your plane was later than the last train. You won’t forget the whole extra day you got in Albania drinking £2 beers on the beach.
To maximise your time away an outbound flight should always be either after work or before 10am. Flights home always after 3pm – means you have time for one last lunch out before checkin. If your destination is closer to home its worth checking for early morning flights/trains aimed at business travellers. We’ve used these to get home on a Monday morning from Scotland for under £20 or a Eurostar from Paris for £29!
Add onto a work trip
My job doesn’t involve much travel, but when it does I always do what I can to extend the trip. If the company is already paying for flights why not!? We’ve had weekends away in Hamburg and Glasgow doing this, we only have to pay for one ticket instead of two and one of the nights accomodation is already covered. Even if you can’t extend by days, it’s worth booking the later trip home so you can enjoy a local dinner. A dinner in Paris is sure more enjoyable than an overpriced airport sandwich!
Book in Advance to get the best times at the lowest cost
Everyone wants to be able to travel with a full time job. So you’ve got to book in advance to get the best time off. Most businesses will have rules in place as to how many people they have off at a time etc. You don’t want to be the person that works the three days between Xmas and New Years and misses out on a 10 day trip, or the one who comes in after easter. Book your leave early!
Booking in advance not only secures you the time off and maximises your travel on Annual Leave, but also means you can save on costs. Our trip back from Oktoberfest last month was a perfect example. We set a reminder and purchased our tickets online for £29 the day they went on sale. We got the time we wanted, on the day we wanted. No issues.
Unfortunately for us, there was a train crash in Germany which meant that we couldn’t get to Paris in time for our Eurostar (thats a story for another day). So we ended up having to book a hotel with three hours notice in Paris, and Eurostar tickets for the next morning to get us back to London for work. How much are last minute tickets on the Eurostar? Ridiculously priced. We paid £205 EACH for our next day tickets from Paris to London. Thats a 700% increase on the price we could have got them for if we’d booked in advance! Thankfully we get free travel insurance with our bank accounts so got it all back!
This works for both transport and accomodation. That same night in Paris our stay was double what it would have been if we had booked in advance! Free cancellations with booking.com take the worry out of the planning though. Most bookings are fully refundable up to a few days before your stay. If we find a good deal while we’re researching we’ll often book it before flights, worst case scenario is you cancel it and get your money back anyway!
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Make a budget
Using bank holidays and weekendsto travel with a full time job is a catch 22. It means you can travel more with your annual leave, but you’ll pay for it. Friday night flights are always more expensive, bank holiday weekend flights even more so. Before even looking at destinations set a travel budget for the year. With this in mind you can start looking at costs. Looking at it annually also means you can budget some bucket list trips like Santorini (it is worth the €140 a day) and balance them out with places like Albania or Macedonia which cost €66 a day!
Make another budget for when you’re there
Too many times I’ve seen people budget their flights, take the bus to the airport instead of the train to save £5 and book sub standard hotels only to treat themselves to degustation dinners and new friends to rounds of drinks at a local bar. Your budget is important not just to get you there, but also when you arrive!
There is so much information online about destinations and travel. A quick google search will show you the best parts of town to stay in, average costs of dining out and even the cost of a pint in a pub. With this you can come up with a rough guide as to what you can spend on a daily basis. We always try to find the top attractions and see if there are any deals or tricks to get these at a lower price. For example St Pauls Cathedral in London is free to visit on Sundays, every other day of the week it costs £18! Other times you can’t get it cheaper but you can pre-book a ticket to skip the line, in places like the Vatican that could give you back half a day of your holiday!
Ultimately this is what it all boils down to. To travel with a full time job you need to prepare. Looking at things annually really helps as it puts the extra £100 you might spend on flights into perspective when over a couple of holidays it leaves you with enough leave to take another holiday!
We are managing to fit 18 trips into 12 months, with a little planning you can too!