I hear a lot from people that they are surprised we’re able to travel as frequently as we do and still have full time jobs. And I’m always surprised by that because it’s so possible to work full time and be able to travel if you make it a priority. Before I get into some of my tips for how to balance a career and travel below, I should preface this post with what Nick and I do for a living as each career will be a little different. Nick and I are both in a unique position in that we are solely responsible for our jobs, meaning no one can cover for us if we’re not there. Therefore, we have to always be “on” when we travel and don’t have the opportunity to shut everything off completely. Nick runs a web/ecommerce division for a company in Portland and he is the sole person in that division, meaning he still has to be available for calls and emails while away. I own my own design interior design business, meaning I am the only person in charge of all the projects I have going on and as well, need to always be available. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an amazing travel experience and balance still doing your job well while you’re away. Here are some of my best trips to balance a career and travel!
If you know you’re going on vacation, plan ahead and get as much major work done as possible before you leave. I try to have all my projects in somewhat of an “auto-pilot” mode while I’m gone so it lessens the work for me while I’m away. Of course, sometimes things come up like one year when Nick’s company’s website went live a week before our vacation to Europe which is basically his entire job. But we still went and he just worked a little more than usual on that trip and it turned out fine. But as much as possible, plan ahead so that while you travel you won’t have as much to worry about.
In an age where we are always “on,” find ways to have moderation and balance.
It’s super important for our minds and stress levels to find a way to not be always “on” in terms of work and communication with people back home while traveling. You have to figure out what works for you, but when we travel we generally get up in the morning and answer emails. Then go out and explore all day and then answer emails in the evenings so we get the best of both worlds while traveling and have some moderation.
On the day you leave for vacation, be “on vacation.” Don’t go in the office or check emails – take the day you leave totally off and get in the travel mode.
One thing we really try to do that helps set the tone for the whole trip is to start the day we leave in vacation mode. This helps if you have a morning flight but once you head to the airport, don’t check emails or worry about work, take the travel day to fully immerse yourself in your travel mode and it will be easier to balance everything then once you’re on the ground someplace.
During vacation, answer emails as needed in your downtime but don’t change schedules around for work.
As I mentioned above, we check emails and do any necessary work items in the mornings and evenings when we travel when we are in our hotel anyways. This way we have the entire day free to see the place we’re in. While we definitely still work while we travel, we always make our trip the priority and deal with work in our downtime. Don’t schedule your trip around your work as that’s no different than when you’re at home!
Tell coworkers to email or text only, so that you don’t have phone calls coming in and you can deal with items as needed on your schedule.
We always ask that if people need to get a hold of us, to text or email as it’s easier to deal with that on the go. We always have data on our phones when we travel so we could answer a quick email or text while we sit at lunch somewhere while on the go and can take care of it right then instead of a long drawn out phone call which interrupts your trip more.
Travel over Weekends if you can.
One thing that helps a lot is to plan your trip where it overlaps a weekend. That way you can figure on at least a few days of the trip where people won’t be in the office back home and therefore won’t need you.
Let your brain have a break from work a little bit and don’t obsess over it.
It’s important for our jobs for us to have a clear head when we come home from vacation and it’s healthy for us to take a break every now and then. So be sure to remember that when traveling and don’t obsess over work that can easily get caught up on when you get home. Enjoy the trip!