How I Travel 10x Per Year With a Full Time Job
I think it’s time I gave a thorough explanation to the most popular question I receive: “How do you travel so much ?”. While I had no idea so many people were interested in this, combined with being careful on how I articulate myself without potentially coming off the wrong way, I put off writing about it. But being that my inbox gets flooded with this question, I will provide as much detail to how I travel the way I do.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that my lifestyle and schedule isn’t like others and vice versa. I do what works for me and this may not work for everyone. I currently work a full time job as a risk analyst for a top tier investment bank. In 2018 I visited Martinique, St. Lucia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, The Philippines, Morocco, Portugal, India and Switzerland. Here are the details on how I was able to pull this off.
Strategically Use My PTO:
In one year I am given four weeks vacation, three personal days and eight federal holidays. In total this gives me thirty days to allocate to travel. I only use my PTO for traveling. I never take time off just to stay home unless I’m sick which is completely separate from my vacation time. I allocate my time by using two or three vacation days along with weekends which turns into a five day trip. Ex: I’ll take Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off of work plus the weekend gives me a five day trip using only three vacation days. For longer trips if I’m going to a place like Asia, I will use five or six vacation days which turns into an eight day trip.
Holidays like Martin Luther King Jr., Presidents Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day always fall on a Monday. I use these to my advantage and take two vacation days (Friday And Tuesday) which then turns into a 5 day trip using only 2 days.
I love a layover that’s over four hours because it gives me the advantage to see another city or country. You will never see me sitting in anyone’s airport for more than three hours. Even if it’s a short time, I’m going outside to explore. I was able to see Hong Kong and Lisbon, Portugal due to long layovers.
Continents like Europe and Asia are very easy and cheap to navigate. I caught a flight from Malaysia to the Philippines for just $60USD (one way). I also caught a flight from Paris to Rome for $40USD (one way). If you’re visiting a place like Amsterdam, you can take a two hour train ride to Brussels and you just knocked out two countries in one trip. If you’re visiting the Caribbean, it’s also a good idea to look into ferry hopping. I traveled to St. Lucia from Martinique by ferry for $90USD round trip.
Evening / Red Eye Flights:
Although it doesn’t always work out this way, my preference is to travel on an evening flight just so I don’t have to use a vacation day from work. As I write this post, I am on a late night (10:50pm) flight to Jordan on a Tuesday. So this means I was able to work a full day Tuesday and only use Wednesday - Friday as vacation days. There goes another five day trip using only three days.
I understand not everyone has this perk at their job. But I use it to my advantage without milking it. If I have an early evening or afternoon flight (say 4pm), I will work from home for half the day and not have to use a vacation day. Or if I take a long weekend I would land home early Tuesday morning and work from home as opposed to coming to work looking like a zombie.
After my expenses are paid (rent, utilities, savings etc.), all of my money goes to travel. Yes, all of it. I make sacrifices that the average person isn’t willing to make. For starters, I don’t eat outside food for lunch. Everyday I always bring food from home. Eating outside every day can be up to $60USD per week which is $240USD per month which is a round trip flight from New York to Miami, Florida. I also got rid of my cable and downgraded only to Wi-Fi with Netflix which saves me another $150USD per month. Additionally, I don’t have much of a social/night life. Bottle service in a club starts at $500. This is the cost of a flight to Asia. Brunch and/or day parties will see me maybe once every three months. All of these things that people do on a daily and weekly basis can easily total up to a trip. Ex: A trip to the Caribbean for three nights will run between $600-$700USd (flight and hotel included).
I don’t really buy designer items anymore. That’s almost insane for me to say being that I was a former label enthusiast who spent over $1000USD on a pair of shoes. This is the cost of a flight to Africa. Or 2 flights to Asia. Or even 3 flights to Europe! The way I allocate my money is very simple: Necessities, then travel. Nothing else. A good idea would be adding up all the spending you do on things you don’t actually need (designer items, night life, etc) and think about where you can go if you kept that money to yourself. You’d be surprised !
The biggest sacrifice I made in 2018 was getting rid of my car. It was a tough choice but on this journey to becoming a full time travel influencer I realized that it was an unnecessary expense living in NYC. That extra $600USD per month back in my pocket has allowed me to take 4 trips in the first 3 months of 2019.
Lump Sums of Cash:
I typically organize my travels a few months in advance (around two to three) when I retrieve lump sums of money. I book flights according to sales I see online (my guide to finding cheap flights will be published soon). In the beginning of every year I receive a bonus from work. I use this to book flights throughout the year. The same goes for when I file my taxes around mid March or April. So when people ask me where I’m going next, my typical answer is “wherever is on sale”.
Generate Extra Income:
Outside of my day job, I am a private math tutor. This helps me finance my travels and I enjoy helping children who struggle with the subject. All of us have some sort of skill or talent that can bring in some extra cash. I encourage everyone to find another way to generate another line of income. Some suggestions are freelance writing, Uber driving, paid online surveys, etc.
Travel Credit Cards:
As a typical irresponsible twenty something year old person, I screwed up my credit. But now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m back on track and I was able to get the American Express Platinum Credit Card. With tons of perks from Priority Pass, airport lounge access, airline credits, Uber credits, 5x points on flights, and much more, I am able to maximize this and get free or discounted flights and hotel stays. It’s important to note that travel credit cards are only good if you pay your bill in full every month. Otherwise the interest payments will not be worth it. You can drop a comment for my referral link for the American Express platinum card if you’re interested. For more tips and tricks to travel credit cards, check out my fellow travelers Ronnie & Sheba Dunston over at Road to 100 countries. They both will show you how they traveled to 100+ countries for FREE using points and miles.
Budgeting for Travel:
There are all types of accommodations for every budget. If you’re a luxury traveler or if your budget allows a three star accommodation, understand the experience is still great. I have recently been getting sponsored hotel stays but before this I was choosing my accommodations wisely according to my budget. There have been times where I did a mixture of both high and low end stays. I’ve stayed in a more luxury accommodation for 2 nights and the rest in an average accommodation just so I can get a taste of the luxury life. I also recommend Airbnb as it can be significantly cheaper. I stayed in a nice Airbnb in Malaysia where two nights cost me $100USD! (See my blog on Malaysia). If you don’t have much to spend, there are also some nice and safe hostels out there that are pretty popular. Always remember to thoroughly read reviews before booking any accommodation.
Local Trips Count:
I once saw someone say that going to Miami is “basic”. I found this to be very ignorant because I’ve been all over the world and Miami is still one of my favorite places to go. I’ve been to Miami 7 times and plan to go again this year. Traveling doesn’t have to be a 20 hour flight to south east Asia. There are countless cities in the world to see, tons of cheap flights and even road trips that can be taken. I took a road trip from New York to Washington D.C. with my sister and we had a great time. These types of trips are equally significant as that long flight to Thailand. It’s all about managing your priorities, finances and time.
Travel is a passion of mine and because I love it so much, I make it happen. Now I know my situation is unique and may not apply to everyone. But I hope this gives everyone a bit of insight on how I manage travel. Feel free to add a comment on this post if you have any other pointers.