The wonderful Sophie Cliff and I joked recently that if there were such a job as “professional city breaker”, we’d really like to interview for it.
It’s not like I don’t love my job. I do. And I have flexible bosses, a generous holiday allowance and a decent enough salary to be able to take trips every now and then. But it doesn’t stop me wondering how I can possibly see all I want to see within the confines of a full time job.
I’m making a pretty good stab of it at the moment, and thought I’d share my top trips for satisfying wanderlust when you have a full time job.
1. Understand your holiday allowance
I have a very generous 30 days a year of holiday allowance (charity sector perks!) plus bank holidays (of which there are 8 in the U.K. per year). Whatever your allowance may be, make sure you know what it is, when you have to use it by and how far in advance you have to book time off.
Then comes the best part – see if you can plan your trips around bank holidays so you get more bang for your buck. By utilising these days and weekends, you can often get away with taking very little holiday days for a much longer break.
2. Get comfortable with the city break
Old me used to book one holiday a year – a mammoth two week long haul extravaganza. At the time I loved my two week breaks, lazing on a beach relaxing and not having to rush about. But the post holiday blues were very real, and with so long between proper breaks from work I got frustrated and sad.
Over the last couple of years I’ve fully embraced the city break lifestyle and it’s done wonders for my mental health and travel ability. It’s also much easier to fit in regular city breaks than bigger trips. If I can take the odd Friday and Monday off work, I can see more of the world and hold down a full time job.
Of course a lazy beach holiday is also nice – but I’ve switched the Caribbean for the beaches of Europe, which are closer to home and require a lot less upheaval!
3. Explore what’s on your doorstep
City breaks abroad are great and all, bit how much of your own backyard have you actually seen? I know that there is way more of the UK (and indeed London!) that I still need to explore and visiting these locations are much easier to manage within a weekend. You don’t have to be at an airport hours in advance, you can pack more lightly and still satisfy your sense of adventure.
Day trips are also awesome, and give you a balance of time to explore and time to get your shit together. I can’t be the only one that has to spend weekend time doing life admin!
4. Be prepared and sort your kit
To commit to a life of travel whilst also holding down a full time job is heavy on the admin side. I was previously disorganised and getting my stuff together for a long weekend break too far more time than I could reasonably manage, leading to late nights and stressed out races to the airport. That is not the way to start a holiday!
I’m managing to sneak off for a break every month, and a big factor in this is being totally organised. I have a suitcase which meets most airlines cabin bag restrictions, a stack of airport approved plastic bags for my liquids and a handful of internal packing bags and containers to make sure its really easy to pack. All of this lives inside my suitcase which is ready to go each time I fly.
This “city break kit” includes:
- A toiletries pack which goes neatly inside the plastic bag which includes decanted versions of my favourite toiletries and liquid make up items. I top these up when I return from holiday each time.
- A pouch which includes spare hair bands and clips, and within which I can chuck the appropriate jewellery the night before.
- Doubles of things like my hairbrush, toothbrush etc which stay in my suitcase for every trip.
- A zipper bag with my European plug adapters, spare chargers and a fully charged portable phone charger.
- A go to packing list for a 2/3 night break which lives on the notes section of my iPhone so I can just throw stuff into the case like socks, pants, tops, and jeans whilst also checking the weather. This means my clothes packing takes under 15 minutes. (if you’d be interested in seeing a copy of this list, let me know in the comments!).
5. Make time to relax
If you are holding down a full time job, sometimes that can be tiring enough without adding the daily toil of life admin AND regular travel into the mix. At the moment I’m travelling fairly frequently, and to be honest it might be starting to stress me out a little ( stay tuned for a post on this!).
Ensuring you have a decent balance of life, work, relaxation and travel will mean you don’t get travel burnout AND enjoy your time exploring even more. Mix up your weekends with travel, day trips and just sitting in your pants watching Netflix and you’ll stay super chill about fitting in your traveller lifestyle.
I’d love to hear any tips you have for fitting travel around your full time job, so please do share them in the comments!