Seven savvy tips to hold an office job and still travel

Don’t wait until you retire to travel!

Don’t wait until the cows come home!

If you used to travel as a student, you would find that an office job, five days a week with regular working hours may stymie the travelling spirit in you.

Financially, you have more monetary resources, but time-wise, there’s no more opportunities to take that spontaneous trip to Bangkok, or go on that 6 months university exchange program to Europe.

You may find that your priorities have changed. Instead of using that precious 15 days of annual leave that you have, you’d rather be in the office working to climb up the corporate ladder. Instead of saving to go on that Round the World trip, you’d rather save to buy that new “It” bag from Gucci.

But your love for travel doesn’t have to die as a working adult. With some nifty tips, you’ll find that your new found financial freedom will help you traverse the world, to the furthest corners of planet Earth than you’ll ever imagine.


1. Keep reading

If you can, subscribe to Nat Geo TV, the magazine, or visit the website regularly. It has stunning travel images, which helps you learn more about the quirky places around you. For instance, I always thought Libya  was a semi-war zone. I never knew it could look like that – Reading also keeps your mind tuned to the outside world, be it through newspapers, books or blogs. Current affairs help you shape impressions of a place, based on when you last visited it. I may have visited Delhi in 2012, but my perceptions of the city are ever changing.

2. Write about your travels, past, present or future

There are two things that keep memories alive. Photographs, and writing. Each memory may have changed you, or change your perception towards travel. Continuously recall and pen down these travel stories – don’t let them be lost with age. You will realise how cool you were in the past, and they will help you re-evaluate your priorities for the future.

3. Go on short trips

The biggest irony about working is that you’ve got the moo-lah now, but never the time. Instead of dreaming of big, long trips, be contented with small ones. I went to Lake Toba in Sumatra for three days, and it was nothing short of excellent. Sitting by the steps of the volcanic lake and watching the world go by allowed me to spend some quality time with a good friend, and relax. The short trips help us recharge and renew our our affair with travelling, and that in turn will inspire us to go further.

4. Save money

This sounds like an obvious thing to do, but working often causes us to deviate from our travelling objectives. Instead of saving for that big year end trip, we go to restaurants, watch movies and indulge in perfume and branded goods. It is even harder when all your peers are doing it. It takes a lot of discipline, but constantly remind yourself – the sweetest reward is always at the end. When you finally see the Northern Lights for the first time, or meet that pretty Lithuanian girl you have always dreamt of.

5. Tell the world (especially your bosses) that you like travelling, (to a particular destination, perhaps)

It doesn’t hurt to share your dreams and your hobbies with your colleagues. Good bosses will make an effort to help you balance your work, with your life objectives. So if you ever need to take time off to attend the once in a lifetime Jaipur Literature Festival , or the Carnival in Brazil, tell them, and tell them early.

6. Hang out with like-minded people who like to travel

The seed to the greatest trips could be sown over a chat over coffee, dim sum, the bookshop or on the bus ride home. The sharing of experiences is always useful, and most importantly, you get a sense of achievement when you relieve the best times of your life.

7. Savvy planning

An ex-manager of mine is a model example of how you can go about travelling while staying relevant to your job. The aforementioned savvy dude booked a flight to London on Air Asia X for an estimated SGD300 a year ago. According to him, he lets prospective employers know of his travel plans before he gets hired. Of course, you’ve got to be good at what you do before you can set these conditions. Nonetheless, it’s always worth a try.

And because you are an office worker, you can afford to take leave during non-peak travel periods where the cost of air tickets and accommodation are much lower. Advice on how to book the lowest cost air tickets, such as flying on a Tuesday and returning on a Monday do have a ring of truth in them, if you have enough annual leave, of course. The tips here are Western centric but can be quite relevant.

* * *

Well, it sounds horrible, but I have concluded that the biggest “tip” to pursue your travelling dreams, is to do well in your job. No pressure, but I have seen directors go on ski-ing trips during the Chinese New Year break. Basically, you earn more, and get more flexibility when it comes to taking annual leave. 

But there are the floaters, who don’t want to check emails while on leave, who don’t mind taking a 3 month break from work to see the world, who want to work hard but pursue the other goals in life that are important to them. And then, maybe achieving the title of a C-level executive may not be as urgent as exploring every nook and cranny of this place we call home. Earth. 

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