How to Make the Most of Time Off for Traveling

Are you trying to travel more frequently but have a limited amount of time off? Or do you have work flexibility but you’re unsure how to best maximize the time you have? Below you’ll find 7 tips that cover how to make the most of whatever time off you have.

I was recently looking back at our travels last year, and Teddy and I traveled over 10 weekends without using anytime off. We did a lot of Friday evening drives after work to make the most of the time we had. Any paid time we had, we used intentionally for longer trips that we couldn’t do in a weekend like our Northeast and Southeast road trips.

Traveling looks different for every person. The tips I have below won’t work for everyone as it will depend on your season or stage of life, your budget, and the time off or schedule you have. Take what’s helpful for your situation and leave the rest.

Tip #1 – Plan in advance.

Look at what days you (and your partner or friend) have off and see which coincide. Make the most of the time off you already have without having to take more time off. Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, and New Year are all times I’ve taken trips in the past without having to use any additional time off.

Tip #2 – Start your drive on a Friday evening for a weekend trip.

If we are going somewhere about 2-4 hours away, Teddy and I will pack Thursday night so we can leave right after work in a Friday to get to our destination. That way we have a full Saturday and most of Sunday to explore and don’t have to take time off.

Tip #3 – Make the most of an evening flight.

When I lived in Florida, I would book a 6, 7 or 8 PM flight to the western states where the time zone is 2-3 hours different. I would leave right after work and head directly to the airport. Then I’d board my flight and arrive in say Phoenix or Vegas around 8 or 9 pm. I was tired, but I would try to sleep on the flight so I’d be ready to go in the morning. I’d recommend this more if you are trying to budget your time off well for a longer trip. It can be tiring if you fly often for weekend trips.

Tip #4 – Extend time off over holidays.

If you’re already off on a Monday, taking off 4 days off on Tuesday to Friday instead of what would normally be 5 days Monday to Friday really saves time. It can seem small, but if you do this 4 times (use a holiday during the week and then take off the other 4 working days) you have saved yourself 4 days leave over those weeks. This is best for someone with more time off or flexibility in their job, but it works. Instead of using 20 days to take four, one week long trips, you can use 16 days and take four one week long trips. And then use those 4 extra on whatever you want!

Tip #5 – Adjust your schedule.

Depending on your job, you may have the flexibility to a shorter week, work remotely, or bank time in advance before you travel. If you work longer hours, but 3 or 4 days a week, you can use those extra days to travel. I used to work in a role where I worked 10 hours, 4 days a week and had off on Fridays. This meant I always had a 3 day weekend which is ideal for traveling. Or if you work remotely, depending on your company, you may be able to work anywhere as long as you have a great Wifi signal. Or, if you have a job where you can work weekends or extra hours ahead of time, this can give you flexibility to then take time off down the line. Each of these are ways depending on your job that you can benefit from an adjusted schedule while working.

Tip #6 – Make the most of the plans you already have.

Maybe you’re visiting a family member over a holiday. Take a day or two extra and explore the area or drive a few hours to somewhere that appeals to you. This past year, Teddy wanted to go to a Penn State game in Iowa. I said I’d go, but only if we could make it a road trip to visit some places we’d not been to before. We each took some time off and were able to visit 4 states over that long weekend and also go to the Penn State game in Iowa City.

Tip #7 – Take unpaid time off.

Depending on your job, you may be able to take unpaid time off. If so, and you’re in a place where you have margin to do this, you can use this to travel. I have heard of this being very flexible to not as flexible at different companies, so talk to those you work with first and make a decision that’s appropriate for your responsibilities.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, not all of these tips will work for everyone. They don’t even all work for me. But a few do, and those are the ones I use. Most specifically, I try to maximize holidays, as well as Friday evenings or evenings in general for drives or flights. We also tend to do a lot on our trips to make the most of the time as well. Do what works for you and leave the rest for someone else. Whatever you chose, I hope you have the best adventures!

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