How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024

March 3, 2024

Being able to travel more with a full time job might sound a bit unrealistic – But I’m here to tell you that it’s not. With some careful planning and a bit of creativity, it is definitely possible to maximize your vacation days and satisfy your wanderlust while still working full time in 2024.

I first started traveling (and this blog) back when I was taking a “gap year” from full-time employment. And while having that kind of flexible schedule and the limited responsibilities made traveling more SO much easier, it also wasn’t sustainable. I was living back at home and working part-time at a restaurant, and basically just putting those paychecks towards my travels that year. It was a blast. 

However, I eventually grew tired of being broke all the time. 1 year was just the right amount of time for me for living paycheck-to-paycheck and benefit-less, so I re-joined the corporate world as a travel manager.

These days, I’m still navigating the juggling of the demands and responsibilities included with working a 9-to-5, while also being able to check off the destinations on my bucket list. And after a bit of trial and error, finally figured out the ways to best perform the balancing act and get the best of both worlds. 

Working a full time job doesn’t mean you have to put your career or travel goals aside. In this blog post, I’m sharing a few ways to help you travel more in 2024 and maximize your vacation days, without compromising your professional commitments.

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Here are a few ways that you can travel more while working a full time job (& maximize your vacation days) in 2024:

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Zion National Park, Utah | How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024
Zion National Park, Utah | How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024

Create a Travel Bucket List

First things first, figuring out where you want to travel to and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is a powerful first step to traveling more. 

Making a list of your dream destinations allows you to visualize your travel goals and prioritize them accordingly. It will help to give you a sense of direction and purpose, and make it easier to plan out and save for your trips. Use this list as a source of inspiration during your lunch breaks (or on the clock, I won’t tell on you) so you can keep your travel goals in the forefront of your mind.

Start by brainstorming all the places you’ve ever dreamt of visiting. Don’t limit yourself; feel free to let your imagination run wild and allow your mind to wander across continents, picture yourself exploring the wonders of the world, and think about what experiences you would like to have.

Once you have your list, you can start researching each destination more thoroughly. Look for the best time to visit, must-see attractions, local customs, recommended activities, and any other information that could help you determine whether a particular place is a good fit for your travel dreams. This research will not only help you make informed choices but also add depth to your knowledge about these destinations.

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Vacation Days and PTO | How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024

Travel More by Maximizing Vacation Days in 2024

An obvious first option for traveling more while you’re a full-time worker, will be to use your PTO (paid time off). A typical amount of vacation time given by employers will be about 2 weeks per year.

How you maximize these 2 weeks of vacation days, however, is what will determine how much you can travel with it. For example, depending on your travel goals you could use this for maybe one or two 1-week vacations, or you could split it up and take several more shorter trips throughout the year.

Check Your PTO

Maximizing your vacation days first starts with knowing how much vacation time you even have in 2024. Look into your company’s vacation policy and plan your time off based from that allowance. Many companies have specific policies regarding PTO accrual and usage, (and you may not even start accruing vacation time until a certain point into your career) so being aware of your balance helps you plan your time off more effectively.

Roll-Over Vacation Days

Keeping an eye on your PTO balance can also help you maximize your vacation days and avoid accumulating excessive unused PTO in 2024. Some organizations have policies that limit the number of carryover PTO days, meaning any unused days at the end of the year are forfeited. By monitoring your balance, you can ensure that you take the necessary time off and do not lose this valuable benefit.

If your company does allow you to carry over vacation time, this could also be a great tool for any of those bigger trips on your travel bucket list. Any destinations you want extra time in, or for destinations further away where you may lose a day or two on traveling there, you can save up some extra vacation time to use towards these trips.

Ask for Unpaid Time Off

An option that often goes overlooked, but if you’re low on PTO to use for travel, you can always ask for unpaid time off to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about. 

Extend Your Weekends

Another great way to travel more while working full time is to extend your weekends. Instead of taking a week-long trip and using a full 40 hours of your vacation days, you can plan vacations around the weekend to maximize the days off you already have.

Take a Monday or Friday off work to give yourself a long weekend, or even start your weekend early on a Wednesday or Thursday to only use half a week of your vacation time.

Take Note of Work Holidays

There are certain holidays in the calendar year that your company may be closed on, some of which fall on Mondays (such as Memorial Day and Labor Day). Use these freebie long weekends to maximize vacation days and save that extra PTO day for another trip.

Choose Your Flights Wisely

You can travel more by opting for red-eye flights or early morning departures to make the most of your weekend trips. For example, flying overnight on a Friday means you will have the full day on Saturday to explore your destination, instead of using Saturday as a travel day.

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Take Shorter Trips

Let’s say you’re already out of vacation days, so you only want to travel during weekends. Taking shorter trips like this on your days off is another great way to travel more as a full-time worker. 

Check for Direct Flights

Direct flight from Denver to Reykjavik, Iceland | How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024

Time-saving is perhaps the most significant advantage of a direct flight. Without any layovers or connections, you’ll have more hours available for exploring and activities at your destination, and maximize your overall travel experience. And by flying directly, you can avoid spending hours at an unfamiliar airport, waiting for your next flight.

Not only that, but direct flights can also reduce the chances of missing a connecting flight due to delays or other unforeseen circumstances. When you have multiple flights, any delay on your initial flight can set off a chain reaction, potentially causing you to miss your connection. By choosing a direct flight, you minimize these risks and ensure a smoother journey.

It is worth noting that direct flights may not always be available or may be limited due to factors such as the popularity of the destination or time of year. If you cannot find a direct flight for your preferred date or route, consider being flexible with your travel dates or exploring nearby airports. Sometimes, traveling on a different day or considering alternative airports can open up new possibilities for direct flights.

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Cut Down Your Travel Time

In addition to opting for non-stop flights, there are a few other ways that you can cut down on your travel time to make the most of a shorter trip:

  • Packing carry-on only for flights: Not checking a bag at the airport for a quick trip will not only save you time waiting at the luggage carousel, but also eliminates the risk of your bags being lost or stolen in transit.
  • Note the location of your final destination: Depending on where you’re going, sometimes your desired final destination will require some additional travel once you land at the airport. For example, if you’re traveling to Tulum from Cancun, it takes an additional 3 hours by bus when you land in Cancun. In order to cut down on travel time, opt for destinations that are near big airports for shorter trips, or choose to fly into the closest airport (even if the airfare may cost more).
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Travel More to Nearby Destinations

For shorter trips, look into reducing your travel time by opting for destinations closer to you. Save the bigger, far-flung destination items on your bucket list for when you have more travel days to use, and look at visiting the destinations that only require a few short hours to get there.

Traveling to nearby destinations also offers a unique opportunity to support local economies and businesses. By choosing to explore neighboring cities or towns, you contribute directly to the local communities, helping to sustain jobs and local entrepreneurship.

Here are a few ideas on how to find good destinations near you for a short trip:

  • Road Trips: Search for attractions near you and hit the road! 
  • National Parks: A quick trip to a National Park is a wonderful option if you are low on travel days. Search for which national and state parks are near you and spend the weekend in nature. 
  • Direct flights from your closest airport: What direct flights are offered out of the airport closest to you? Anything that ends up being less than a 3-5 hour flight will be a great option for a quick trip.
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Take a Staycation

The easiest way to take a quick trip is by staying local! A staycation is essentially a holiday spent at home or within driving distance from your place of residence. It offers the opportunity to explore local attractions, hidden gems, and cultural treasures that might have gone unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

In addition to saving time on travel, one of the main advantages of a staycation is its cost-effectiveness. With the absence of airline tickets, hotel bookings, and other travel expenses, you can enjoy a vacation that is light on the wallet. This allows for you to indulge in leisure activities and experiences that you may have otherwise deemed unaffordable.

Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about battling jet lag from a turnaround international trip.

Work Remote

Another way to incorporate travel into your work routine is by considering remote work options. Nowadays, many companies offer flexible working arrangements, allowing employees to work from anywhere. Talk to your boss or HR department about the possibility of working remotely while you explore new places. With the availability of high-speed internet and efficient communication tools, it is increasingly feasible to maintain productivity while working from different locations.

Save More to Travel More

Budgeting wisely is another essential aspect of traveling while maintaining a full-time job. With a well-managed travel budget, you can plan and execute your trips smoothly without putting extra financial stress on yourself.

Create a Budget & Cut Back on Expenses at Home

One of the first steps in saving more to travel more is by creating a budget. Take a thorough look at your income and expenses, and identify areas where you can cut back. This may involve reducing discretionary spending, cooking meals at home instead of eating out, or opting for more affordable transportation options. By being mindful of your finances, you can allocate a significant portion of your income towards your travel fund.

Set Aside a % of Every Paycheck

Setting aside some extra money for your travel fund is a good idea if you want to start traveling more. Automating your savings is a powerful technique to ensure consistency. Arrange with your bank or your employer to directly deposit a designated percentage into a separate savings account for you. This allows you to build your travel fund without consciously having to make transfers, reducing the chances of disregarding or forgetting it.

I have my paychecks automated to send 20% into my savings account every pay period, which I use towards booking vacations. 

Travel Off-Season

I personally always prefer to travel to bigger destinations during their off-season – Not only to avoid the crowds during peak season, but also because it’s a lot easier on your wallet. Flights, accommodations, and even activities tend to be significantly cheaper during off-peak times. Airlines and hotels often offer discounts and promotions to promote tourism during slower periods. 

Take Advantage of Work Trips

Work trips can be a great opportunity to explore new cities and cultures and travel more with a full time job. If your company ever sends you off on a business trip, use these travels to carve out some time for yourself to do some sightseeing and local activities.

If your employer allows for it, you could even request to use a vacation day or two and extend a business trip into a personal trip.

Dreamy Bucket List Travel Inspiration | How to Travel More with a Full Time Job (& Maximize Vacation Days) in 2024

Travel More by Being Flexible and Open-Minded

Being flexible and open-minded about destinations is key to maximizing your vacation opportunities while working full time in 2024. Instead of fixating on specific locations, be open to exploring new places, whether they are local or international. By being open to diverse destinations, you can quickly adapt your travel plans to fit your work schedule.

Check for Flight Deals

Keep an eye out for deals on airfare and hotels to spark that sense of wanderlust. When I first started traveling, I was solely a budget traveler and a lot of my destinations were chosen based off the deal I found on airfare.  (My first solo international trip to Thailand only cost me $500 for the round-trip! And I found a one-way to Barcelona for only $165.)

Sometimes airlines will drop last-minute fare deals on flight tickets in order to sell the open space on the plane – Use these to embrace the concept of a spontaneous trip or take a quick weekend trip to a destination you may have not considered before.

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Additional Tips for Traveling More with a Full Time Job

Request Time Off as Early as Possible

First and foremost, requesting time off in advance shows respect and consideration towards your employer’s needs and schedules. By providing ample notice, you give your employer enough time to make arrangements and find appropriate coverage for your absence. Your absence may require someone else to take on additional responsibilities, or your workload might need to be redistributed among your colleagues. Requesting time off ahead of time allows your employer to plan accordingly, minimizing any disruptions to the workflow.

Requesting time off early enables you to have a higher chance of getting your desired dates approved. As many workplaces have a limited number of employees who can be absent simultaneously, popular vacation periods often get booked quickly. By requesting time off well in advance, you increase the likelihood of securing the dates you want and avoid disappointment or having to rearrange your plans at the last minute.

Moreover, early requests for time off provide you with adequate time for proper planning and organization. Whether you need to make travel arrangements, coordinate with family and friends, or simply create a detailed itinerary, having sufficient time ahead allows you to plan your time off effectively. Furthermore, booking flights, accommodations, or arranging transportation early may save you money as prices tend to increase as your departure date approaches.

Free Up your Weekend Time

If you want to travel more with a full time job, you need to free up your time on the weekends. Prepare for your weekend trips by making time for getting your day-to-day tasks done during the week instead. Things like your household chores, grocery shopping, errands, or anything else that you usually save for doing over the weekend.

This will help you free up your weekend time for more adventures (not to mention, avoid the crowds at the grocery store).

You can also free up more of your weekend time by packing your bags on Thursday evening and returning late on Sunday, so you can explore new places without taking any additional days off work.


You don’t need to set your career aside or become a full time traveller in order to see the world. It is totally doable to travel more with a full time job in 2024 with a little bit of planning, creative thinking, and maximizing your vacation days to take more PTO.

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How else can you travel more with a full time job and maximize your vacation days in 2024? Share your ideas with me in the comments below!

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The Gal Behind the Blog

Hi I’m Rylie – Welcome to my corner of the internet!

I’m a solo traveler & photographer turned full-time corporate travel agent – born and raised in Southern California but now based in Colorado.