It’s easy to think that the only way to travel the world these days is to quit your 9-5 job, pack up your bags and head for the open road with a one-way ticket in hand.
Every internet meme and travel blogger is telling us the same thing – to pack it all in to live your best life on the road. And let’s be honest, we’ve all been tempted when the alarm goes off on a drizzly Monday morning.
Let me start by saying, I have so much respect for those who give up a job they hate to chase their dreams and never look back. I know plenty of them and they continue to inspire and impress me every day with their adventures and nomadic lifestyles.
But the truth is that not all of us hate our jobs and want to up-sticks to pursue a life on the road. Even the most passionate wanderluster may crave the comforts of an ordinary home life and the security and fulfilment of a career they love. And you know what? That’s okay! You’re no less of a traveller, and you’re no less of a dreamer.
Besides, it is absolutely possible to have your travel cake and eat it too.
Yes, it takes some serious planning and a little bit of sacrifice – but if you’re passionate, a life of frequent travel and adventure is 100% possible without having to quit your job or make any drastic changes to your lifestyle.
In fact, there are plenty of perks to becoming a “part-time traveller” with a regular home base.
I was a little late to the travelling obsession, having spent most of my childhood holidays in English-speaking Spanish resorts, eating at the hotel buffet and only venturing out as far as the nearest beach.
It’s fair to say I had no clue about culture or travel – a trait which inevitably continued into my student years when my very limited funds were reserved for the Student Union bar and my very long summers spent paying off my vodkat (no, that’s not a spelling mistake) – induced student debts.
For me, it all started with the classic All-American road trip in 2014. The experience of travelling to new places every day and exploring landscapes and cities that I’d only ever fantasised about had me hooked.
3 weeks later I boarded my flight back to the UK, only to be hit with a SERIOUS case of the post-travel blues.
I had been well and truly bitten by the travel bug. I suddenly wanted to see EVERYTHING and go EVERYWHERE.
Lunch breaks, evenings and weekends were spent obsessively researching faraway places and plotting my hypothetical path around the world.
I searched long and hard online for advice on how I could fulfil my travel ambitions without having to give up other aspects of my life. But all I seemed to find were articles telling me to “quit my job and travel the world”.
I knew that packing everything up to travel wasn’t the solution for me. I liked my home comforts and the truth is the idea of living out of a backpack with a dwindling bank account made me anxious.
On top of this, I had a rewarding career in the charity sector; a partner who had no desire to quit his job to live the nomadic lifestyle; and I’d recently moved to an exciting new city that I was in no rush to leave behind.
The truth I kept coming back to was this – I didn’t want to escape from my life. Far from it. But I also wasn’t prepared to give up my travel dreams.
I know, I know – us millennials want it all, right?
This idea of becoming a “part-time traveller” was one of those light-bulb moments for me. It was the realisation that this didn’t have to be an either/or and that with a bit of careful planning and creativity I could incorporate travel more fully into my lifestyle to create a balance that worked for me.
With weekends, bank holidays and annual leave I worked out that I had 137 free days a year – or the equivalent of 4 and a half months (!) – to get out and start exploring the world. Plus I had the benefit of a regular income to make it happen!
Once I realised that I could balance travel with the things I loved about my daily life, it completely changed my perspective. These days, I’m excited for what each weekend brings – visiting new places and exploring this beautiful world that starts right outside my doorstep.
Over the last year, I’ve travelled to 8 different countries by combining short-haul city breaks with multi-centre holidays, plus a load of local adventures planned in between – all whilst holding down a full-time job.
So believe me when I tell you, quitting your job isn’t the only way to make your travel dreams a reality.
Here’s 5 perks to becoming a part-time traveller:
1. You can earn a regular income and travel how you want
Knowing you have money in the bank (even if it’s not much!) can take a lot of the stress out of travel. I tend to be more of a mid-range traveller but I know if I want to splash out on another cocktail or pay for a room with a view, I can and I don’t have to worry about where my next pay-cheque is coming from.
2. You can make travelling a regular part of your lifestyle
No more counting down the days and weeks until your annual 2-week holiday… No more post-travel blues… What if every month you were headed off somewhere new and packing in a whole load of new adventures closer to home in between?
3. You can progress and develop in a career you love
I wasn’t ready to give up a career that challenges and inspires me, so I’ve worked hard to make travel a priority within my hectic working life. And even if you don’t have your dream job just yet, increasing your travel time is a sure-fire way to motivate you on a Monday!
4. You don’t have to worry about FOMO
Ask any long-term traveller and they’ll tell you that even behind those envy-inducing Instagram snaps, they’re secretly missing out on those special moments back home – birthdays, brunches and even the latest BBC drama that everyone is tweeting about!
5. You can discover new adventures every day right outside your doorstep
There’s nothing quite like discovering a new favourite hangout or restaurant in your own hometown and I guarantee that there’s a whole world unexplored right outside your doorstep. What better way to fill your weekends than to discover new adventures closer to home, whilst counting down until your next trip?
For advice on how to start making your travel dreams a reality, read my guide on 10 ways to travel more with a full-time job or hear first-hand from other part-time travellers who are having their travel cake and eating it too.