January 27, 2014

Traveling with a Full-time Job

People keep on asking me the same questions. 'How do you do it? How the hell do you still get to travel given that limited time and resources?' 

Hi! I'm Justine.
I'm a twenty-something, graphic designer, working for a company that requires us to complete at least 43 hours a week. That's 5 8-hr weekdays and 3 hrs on Saturdays. I live on my own with a humble wage, and my bills take up more than half of what I earn. I also pay for my insurance, my daily meals, twice a week sessions of Muay Thai, and random food trips with friends. Let me assure you that I've only started this travel lifestyle in late 2012. In 1 year, I've traveled to 3 countries: Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Locally, I've been to long trips such as Coron, La Union, Bicol, Puerto Princesa, and short trips to Baguio, Baler, Bataan, Tagaytay, Pampanga, and Batangas. And most importantly, I don't own a credit card.

So is it possible to travel even when you're working full-time? Yes. How? Let me count the ways:

1. SEAT SALES MATTER!

- It may be time-consuming, but it also saves a lot from your budget. Now that Air Asia has finally flown it's way to the PH, you have more options to fly other than Cebu Pacific. When I first purchased my Thailand ticket, it cost me at around 8k pesos! Then when I waited for a seat sale to book for Cambodia and Vietnam, we only paid 4k. (That's 2k peso-worth of savings). Oh and pray you get to book on weekends. That way you can save a day from your vacation leaves.


October-November is my favorite month for Cebu Pac's seat sale

2. Plan your leaves in advance. 

- Every year, we get to plot our 15 scheduled vacation leaves. We're only allowed to split them into 2. So what I did was to put 6 days for international trips, and only 3 for the other half. That way, I still get to have 6 more days for impromptu getaways. And know your holidays too! ;)

3. Don't hesitate to use your sick leaves

- For those who get to encash their unused sick leaves, it's also okay to use some of it to take a short vacation, especially when you're out of VLs. Nature therapy is better than medical.

4. No credit card? No problem!

- Cebu Pac and Air Asia has other modes of payment besides swiping that thin card. I, myself, am not a fan of it because I hate the temptation of borrowing money without knowing if I could pay all of it in due time. As much as possible, live a debt-free life.



5. Get a sideline

- Since what I earn is enough for all my daily needs and expenses, I make sure to have at least other sources to earn so I can pay for my travels. Freelance work is fun! You get to choose the project you want to do, plus you get to express yourself more than just the daily routine you get from your full-time job. Just reach out, search online (freelancer.ph, odesk.com, limeexchange.com, etc) for the job that fits you, or ask your friends or family for recommendations. You gotta start somewhere. :)

6. Group deals

- Groupon, Beeconomic, Ensogo, CashCashPinoy, Metrodeal... you name it! If you're travelling with your buddies, this is another way to save more without the hassle of DIY from scratch. So make sure to subscribe to these sites.

7. Research/DIY

- Most backpackers find do-it-yourself itineraries cheaper than booking thru an agency. You don't get to pay for the extra service charge, and you get to customize your own itinerary for the tour. In special cases like The Underground River in Puerto Princesa, booking for your permit in advance is highly recommended than on the day itself. Only limited slots are available so you might end up with sold out slots on your preferred scheds.

My travel bible :)


8. Couchsurf or stay in Hostels


At the Circle Hostel, La Union
- You don't travel hours from home just to stay in another bed. Hotels are comfortable but too luxurious for my budget. Hostels on the other hand, are chill, very homey, and inexpensive too! You get to meet other travelers as well. Though I haven't tried Couchsurfing, my friend hosts her place. (Will definitely try that on my next solo trip.)

New friends from La Union
Best memories from trips are made not only from places, but also from the people you meet. :)

9. Save in advance!

- I usually book my international trips, a year in advance. That way I can research, wait for group deals, and most importantly, fix my budget and save up! If you have mid-year bonuses or 13th-14th month bonuses on December, save it! There will always be sacrifices. Instead of purchasing things that you don't really need, allot it for travel. Focus on a goal. Since I don't trust myself with handling money, I let my trusted family and friends keep it.

Click on how the 52-week challenge works
I recently tried the 52-week challenge from Kuripot Pinay. Though this would be my first time, let's hope this thing works. :)

10. Encourage others to travel too!

- Not only will it make most of your tour packages cheaper, but it also brings more fun to the trip! Invite those who have been dreaming of traveling, but always hesitate because of other matters. Traveling solo is empowering, but traveling with friends makes the bond stronger. :)

My travel buddies!
If you're still having doubts on getting yourself out there, stop. Stop with all the what-if's. Stop wishing you should've taken that Indochina trip and yet chose to stay at home. Stop working so much and take that vacation to avoid burning out. Stop spacing out at work because you did not go with your friends on that road trip weekend. Stop saying no because of fear you'd lose money. Start moving. Start booking. Start living for yourself. And start seeing what is beyond of you.