How You Can Work 9-5 and Still Find Time to Travel

How You Can Work 9-5 and Still Find Time to Travel

Unlike a seemingly majority of travel bloggers out there, I’m not location independent. I don’t get paid to travel the world through fancy press trips, and this blog certainly isn’t my main source of income.

And I’m happy with that.

You won’t find me selling all of my belongings and living the nomadic lifestyle anytime soon—or probably ever.

And while I find it very romantic and commend those who do live that lifestyle, it’s just not for me, and remember what I said about following your own dreams?. I like having a routine, I want to settle down and have a family, and strangely enough, I like working the mundane 9-5.

People often tell me how ‘they wish they could do what I do’ and ‘they wish they could travel often’– yet I’m not really doing anything that different. Yes, I may be living in a foreign country on the other side of the world, but I still work 9-7 every Monday to Friday, I pay bills, I buy groceries and I occasionally go out on the weekends.

So what’s the main difference?

I make time to travel.

Just this past year I’ve traveled around Hong Kong, Macau, China, Thailand, Singapore and Japan, all while maintaining a full-time job.

Yet somehow, everyone still seems to have this notion that it’s impossible to live a life of travel AND work the typical 9-5. But I’m here to show you it’s possible to have both.

Travel does not have to be made a lifestyle choice, but it can still be made a priority.

So here are some tips for how you can work 9-5 and still travel:

1. Make use of Long Weekends and Public Holidays

Grab a calendar and mark off any days you have off– mark your normal weekends, holidays, long weekends, etc. All finished? Now look and see where you can extend these holiday periods. This will really help give you more time to travel without using many vacation days.

For example, when I marked off all my public holidays I noticed that I could have a solid block of 10 days off, while only having to use two vacation days. Sweet deal right?


Look for when taking a vacation makes the most sense.

2. Gain Additional Vacation Days

Running low on vacation days? Find ways to gain more. If you are putting in a lot of overtime or are working public holidays, ask to be given additional vacation days rather than overtime pay.

3. Take Unpaid Leave

Just because you’re out of vacation days, doesn’t mean you can’t take any more vacations. Most companies are okay with their employees taking unpaid leave– just be sure you’ve budgeted beforehand so that you don’t find yourself in a bind financially later on!

4. Take More Weekend Getaways 

Who says travel has to be long? It’s possible to travel short distances thanks to weekend getaways. Visit a nearby city, state or even country for just 2-3 nights.

Remember that trip to Singapore I took last January? I went straight to the airport after work on a Friday and got back late Sunday night just in time for work to resume on Monday.

Philippines - Apr 2014

Weekend in the Philippines? Yes please!

5. Rollover Vacation Days

Often employees will be given money in lieu of their unused vacation days, but see if it’s possible to rollover the vacation days to the following year. This can give you also double the vacation days, which is perfect for far away destinations– and it gives you extra time to save more money!

6. Extend Business Trips

Going on a business trip for your company? Talk to your boss about extending the trip for an extra day or two in order to explore the area more. Promise to return inspired and well-rested to boost your productivity.

7. Work Remotely

Thanks to the internet, it’s become really easy to work from virtually anywhere. If your company is worldwide, see if you can work temporarily in another country’s office. If your company doesn’t have offices across the world, see if you can negotiate working virtually short-term. This would allow you to work anywhere in the world where you can access the internet. Who wouldn’t want to do work while lying on the beach?

Phuket - Nov 2013

I’d love to work somewhere with views like this everyday.

8. Take a Sabbatical

Didn’t get to take a year off after college to travel? That’s okay, do it now! More and more people seem to be taking sabbaticals lately, and many employers in the corporate world are even encouraging it. Usually sabbaticals range from just a few months to a whole year, and then you’ll return to your job as normal afterwards. It’s really a win-win situation for you and your boss.

9. Work Abroad

If none of the above sound good, why not take the leap and work abroad, I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds. This opens your options to experience a new country and culture for a longer period while working– and gives you unlimited opportunities for travel during your nights and weekends. There are many opportunities for working abroad; and while they may not all be in your ideal career path, at least you’re in a new exciting destination!

Hong Kong

Every day is an adventure working abroad.


How do you fit travel into your work schedule?




  1. April 11, 2014 / 12:48 am

    I love being an expat and teaching overseas! I seriously don’t know if I will ever be able to go back to teaching in Oregon. I usually say I will return home to teach when I want to settle down with a family…but I see more and more blogs popping up with families living and working abroad.

    • Beth Williams
      April 17, 2014 / 8:04 am

      I agree, I’ll be headed back to the US soon, but I feel I might just pick up and leave again shortly after :)
      MAYBE when I’m ready to have kids I’ll settle somewhere.

  2. March 16, 2014 / 4:46 pm

    I agree that travelling and working full-time can be easily done, especially if you live in an Asian country.
    However, I’m amazed how you manage your life. Maybe you can give me some advice because obviously I’m not good with my time management.

    I work full-time as an English teacher in Japan and I do travel in every free minute, just like you.
    AND I have a blog (not a travel blog, but a blog about Japan in general) that I try to maintain and update regularly. And that’s about my limit. I can barely write one post per week.

    You update more often and on top of that you’re in a relationship. Do you ever sleep??
    I think you’re amazing. Tell me your secret! *gg*

    • Beth Williams
      March 17, 2014 / 8:22 pm

      Are you working through JET? I’m actually thinking of re-applying for JET (or I guess to any other teaching positions) as I really miss living in Japan!

      Right now I teach English in HK, and days are long– 10 hours, but usually I’m only actually teaching for 5-6. I pretty much spend my 2 hour lunch break blogging and replying to e-mails… and then go right back to blogging after work!

      It takes a lot of discipline, but I try to be strict about it so that I can take the occasional night off or to have free time on the weekends to spend with the fiancé (oh, and sleep!). :)

      • March 17, 2014 / 10:24 pm

        No, I’m not working through JET.
        Actually, I’m a non-native English speaker from Germany, so that wasn’t an option for me.
        I work in a regular eikaiwa. :)

        It surely takes discipline. I’m really impressed! :)

        • Beth Williams
          March 18, 2014 / 1:32 pm

          How do you find the eikaiwa? A few of my friends are working in those as well, and I often consider it. Not sure if I really want to do JET and chance being placed in the middle of nowhere ;P

          • March 19, 2014 / 10:08 am

            I have no experience being an ALT but from all I heard, I think I prefer eikaiwa.
            You have smaller class sizes (usually between 2-9 students) and the majority of them is motivated. ;)
            You teach them at least once a week, so you really get to know your students. If you stick around a few years, you literally see them growing up! ;)
            I also like the fact that we teach any age group from kindergarten up to adults. It never gets boring.

            Personally, I also like the working hours from afternoon to late evening as I’m not a morning person. *g*

          • Beth Williams
            March 25, 2014 / 3:52 pm

            I do like teaching a range of students. Here the gap isn’t quite that wide, but I teach between the ages of 2 and 14.

            Hm, yeah it’s really the working hours that concern me of most eikaiwa positions! Right now in HK I work from 930 until 730 at night, so working these 10 hour shifts is killer– especially while having to go home and work on my blog for another 5 hours ;)

            If I could find an eikaiwa with a good schedule, I’d totally apply right now as I’m leaving HK in 2 months. Eeek.

  3. October 1, 2013 / 9:28 pm


    This is us too!!

    we would love to quit our jobs and travel full time but unfortunately with a mortgage and lots of bills its not possible. We travel as much as possible!
    Sadly my work is not hugely of unpaid leave – who knows why! im not there ant they dont have to pay me!!! oh well!

    Glad to know we arent the only ones out there :) (not that we are the only 2 bloggers who work and travel!)

    • Beth Williams
      October 7, 2013 / 10:39 am

      My work isn’t too big on unpaid leave either, but we can get away with a few days here and there (which I mainly use to tack onto public holidays)

      I would love to make the switch to freelance so that I can be location independent, but it’s hard. Mortgages and bills are just no fun!

      • October 7, 2013 / 10:49 am

        I agree! Bills sucks!

        Sadly my unpaid leave needs to be approved by my managers, manager (almost one of the CEO’s of the company), which is silly im sure he has better things to do!

        • Beth Williams
          October 8, 2013 / 3:54 pm

          Wow, that’s really strange! No wonder you’d never get any unpaid leave!
          I hope you at least get a lot of paid leave (and have an easier time getting it approved)

  4. October 1, 2013 / 10:01 am

    Thank you for all of the helpful tips! I work a full time job and my bf works freelance, so we’re always looking for more ways to travel more often!

    • Beth Williams
      October 7, 2013 / 8:59 am

      It can be challenging to travel with a full time job– especially if you don’t have many vacation days. I would love to start switching over to freelance, still full time, because being location independent would be amazing for travel purposes!

  5. Paul Skalski
    July 23, 2013 / 9:18 pm

    Looking for work from home regardless if it’s in India, America, or the any country may be trying.

  6. July 20, 2013 / 7:09 pm

    Hi Beth, I just stumbled across your blog and I absolutely love it (especially the Kit-Kat thing – I never knew there were so many varieties?! – what’s your favourite been so far?)

    Thanks for a really helpful post :) – I’m just about to graduate from university and am trying to work out what comes next (employment -argh) but still want to travel. The tips here were really useful.

    • Beth Williams
      July 26, 2013 / 11:28 am

      Hi Georgia, thanks for your comment and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog. I just graduated last year, so best of luck looking for employment (always a scary thing!). It’s definitely possible to travel while working… especially if you’re working abroad. I definitely recommend taking a year off to teach English abroad– that way you still get work experience and paychecks ;P

      As far as KitKats… my favorite has been the Yubari Melon (basically an ultra-sweet honey dew flavor) :D

  7. July 20, 2013 / 4:58 am

    I seriously take unpaid vacations every time we travel (so does my husband because he’s freelance). I plan ahead for that unpaid time, too, because I expect it to happen so much.

    • Beth Williams
      July 21, 2013 / 2:19 am

      Great to hear I’m not the only person who takes unpaid leave. :)
      I think many people are scared to do so, but so long as it’s budgeted for, there’s no problem!