A love of travel was instilled in me at a young age (14-month-old me took her first flight as an immigrant to Canada!) and since becoming an adult, I’ve made it a priority to travel as much as possible. Working while in school full-time made that challenging, but I found and continue to find ways to travel. Read on to find 10 of my best tips for travelling with a full-time job or as a full-time student.
1. Study Abroad
I can just about guarantee that taking a semester or a year to study abroad will be the highlight of your degree. Most, if not all, universities offer some type of exchange program. Some even come with pre-approved transfer credit, eliminating the risk that the courses you take might not count towards your degree. Even if they don’t count, you might take a little longer to finish your degree, but that’s a rather small obstacle considering the benefits. Studying abroad means immersing yourself in a new place and possibly a new language and culture. You’ll meet people from every corner of the world, meaning you’ll have connections across the globe. Depending on the program, you might even get extended weekends or holidays for travelling!
2. Take advantage of long weekends
Canada has a long weekend nearly every month, which means that once a month we have a chance to get away! Travelling doesn’t have to mean spending weeks in an exotic location. Save your vacation days and make the most of the days that you already have off. Check out a national park. Go on a road trip through towns that are barely a speck on the map. Catch a cheap flight somewhere you’ve never considered going because it’s so close to home. Get a group together and go on a ski trip. Leaving town over a long weekend is one of the best ways to feed your desire to travel as you await your next trip or if you don’t have any big trips planned yet.
3. Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
If you’re lucky enough to be a citizen of one of the eligible countries (sorry, Americans ), a Working Holiday Visa allows you to work pretty much anywhere that will hire you for up to a year. The goal of the Working Holiday Visa is to foster an understanding for different cultures through cultural exchange. The visa functions as a bilateral agreement, so Australians are free to come to Canada on a WHV and Canadians are free to go down under. Check out your government’s website to see if you are eligible for a Working Holiday Visa.
4. Be prepared to be spontaneous
Keep your eye on flight deals and be open to spontaneous trips. It’s always good to be prepared if your friend wants you to come along on a hiking trip or you find a cheap ticket for a weekend getaway. Have a bag ready with the essentials so you don’t have to stress about packing. You never know when the opportunity to travel might come up!
5. Stretch your vacation days
If you live outside of Europe and don’t get a cool 4-6 weeks vacation each year, you’ll want to make the most of the time you’re given. Instead of using up all your vacation days in one go, consider tacking on a day or two to a long weekend or work trip. A few mini-vacations like these per year will help feed your need to travel.
6. Take unpaid leave
Some employers will let you take unpaid vacation. If you’re okay with not being paid for the length of your trip, this could be a great option to make more time for travel.
7. Join a club that lets you travel
If there’s one thing I regret about my university experience, it’s that I didn’t join enough clubs. (Correction: I joined about a half dozen each year; I just never followed through.) Not until it was too late did I realize that participating in certain clubs may have afforded me the opportunity to travel with a bunch of really awesome like-minded people. Be sure to check out the clubs fair at your school to find out about travel-related groups. Ski Club, Outdoors Club, and Rotary Club are a few examples, but there are surely many more!
8. Research conferences you’re eligible for
Whether you’re working or studying, why not combine your love of travel with another interest? Conferences are a great way to improve your skills, keep up to date with advances in your field, network, and share ideas. Do some research to discover what kind of conferences are available to you. Not only will you be investing in yourself, but you’ll get the chance to explore somewhere new!
9. Volunteer abroad
Voluntourism is a controversial subject that I’m no expert on, but it certainly can be done ethically. The most important thing is to do a ton of research before you commit to a program. Ensure that the volunteering you do will benefit the people who need it most and not those who try to exploit them. Nomadic Matt has a great article from an expert that goes through the steps you should take if you’re interested in volunteering abroad. If done correctly, it can be a rewarding experience for you and for those you’re helping.
10. Explore close to home
If you’re itching to travel but can’t get away, be a tourist in your own town. I know there are attractions in my city I haven’t been to for no reason other than that I live here. Even if you think you’ve seen everything there is to see, dig deeper. Venture outside the city into the surrounding areas. Ask friends and colleagues for suggestions on unconventional things to do, see, or eat. Spend the day riding the metro and find something to do at each stop. While you may not be going very far, you’ll be escaping monotony by discovering something new about the place you call home.
Whether you’re a full-time student or working 9 to 5, travel is within reach. You just have to be creative and find what works for you. Have you used any of my tips before? Will you be using them in the future? Do you know a tip I haven’t listed? Let’s start a conversation – leave me a comment below!