Don’t Quit Your Day Job (How to Travel More with a “Normal” Job)

I’ve read a lot of really inspirational articles about people quitting their job to travel the world.

Some promote their choice through rose-colored glasses. Others do not.

I read stories like this one, and think – “WOW I want this life!”

Almost anyone would.

But really – we shouldn’t.

If everyone with access to a computer and a camera-enabled phone quit their job to become RTW travel bloggers… it would suck.

The world needs us – office workers, doctors, interns, hair stylists, grocery store clerks – and not every job is remote work capable.

What do you do if you can’t quit your day job (or don’t even want to), but still have major wanderlust?

Don’t be put off by the “all or nothing” myth perpetuated by Instagram and Facebook. Balance is best, and a life that works for you, and makes you happy, is what matters most.

In other words: You can have your job and travel too.

Here’s how you do it…

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Learn how to travel more with 4 major (fool proof!) tips for ANY professional hoping to incorporate more travel while balancing work.

You can even travel the world without savings (especially if you work as an expat).

Choose all four (like I did!) of the best ways to travel the world or mix and match for whatever works best for you.

How to : Travel the World and Still Work 9-5

working vaca at an Agoda hotel in Yangon while an expat in BKK, money saved through envelope method

Travel the World Without Quitting Your Job Tip #1

Bargain with your boss

You can’t travel while working a full time job without vacation time. And for most Americans, that means a measly 10 days a year. While you can try to make the most of your days by combining them with national holidays (and I really recommend this!), it still isn’t very much.

Jumpstart your travel abilities by asking for more time.

This can be so scary, I know! But if outright asking for more time is too overwhelming or seemingly impossible depending on your work situation, start with one of the following options:

Working Vacation – Offer to work while on vacation (if possible with your job type!). While this isn’t ideal, it can be a great way to at least get your foot in the door, and may be the ONLY option if you work in a very busy career where your company literally can’t function without your input. It can serve to open up more possibilities for more vacation time in the future. You can show your boss that you are responsible and reliable even while away on vacation. If it goes well… you could even eventually propose converting your position into full time remote-working.

Swap Salary for Vaca – You can always earn more money, but you’ll never have more time. Learn to live on less (tips below), and the extra salary can be used as a bargaining chip. This is especially useful in small and struggling companies, who might have more employees than necessary at the moment, and could use money in the bank more than employees at their desks.

Split Scheduling – Especially useful for people who work on shifts, want to travel frequently, or don’t get very much vacation time. Split scheduling can free up a lot of time for travel, if you’re willing to forego typical weekend downtime. Offer to work 10 days on, 4 days off or get really ambitious with 20 days on, 8 days off. The upside to this arrangement is that you don’t cut into your salary, nor your vacation time.

Maracui Caiprinha Rio de Janeiro Brazilsplit scheduling – 20 days of work leaves 8 days for nothing but this

Travel the World Without Quitting Your Job Tip #2

Curb your spending

Campo Fiori Romesay NO! to malls and don’t bring money to markets

If you spend less, you’ll need to make less money (making swapping salary for vacation time in Tip #2 more appealing!). The following strategies have worked really well in helping me curb what was once an out of control spending habit. I use them all, see what works best for you.

Minimalism – Unsure where to start? Think minimalism is all about owning less than 10 items or giving all your stuff away to charity or (worse yet) living in an uber stark modern all-white spacious condo? Luckily, the Minimalists have you covered. With a compelling writing style and easy to follow suggestions (that you’ll actually WANT to try), the Minimalists expound a pleasant philosophy for scaling back your possessions and your spending, making your travel plans more achievable.

Budget – Set a fairly strict but do-able budget. And stick to it. It’s as easy as that. If you’re having problems, try to set up a challenge with a friend (compete to see who can save a larger percentage of their salary), or even a challenge with yourself (how much money can you save this week?). Make it visual, make a chart, celebrate your victories.

Envelope method – Make an envelope for each week (or each expense category, such as food, entertainment, housing and refresh each month), and once the money has run out for that week, it’s over. Overspending early in the week means Scrooging on the weekend.

Grocery Shopping in Rome is Cheapthe money in my envelope goes further with groceries than with eating out – healthier too!

Travel the World Without Quitting Your Job Tip #3

Travel cheaper

20130502-052553.jpgeat local, stay local

Once you’ve got the vacation time and saved the money, it’s time for the travel. But don’t blow a year’s worth of work in a week. Follow these tips to stretch your travel buck.

Budget apps – The largest portion of your expenses will likely be in two categories: air travel and accommodation. Get familiar with Kayak and Skyscanner for booking your flights. Make sure to check out airbnb and Agoda for booking your accommodation. Sometimes, you can find cheaper hostels if you show up in person without prebooking, but when you’re traveling on a limited work holiday of maybe one or two weeks, it can be better to save time and stress and prebook.

Off the trail travel – If you can travel during low season, there will be less tourists and you can save up to 50% on accommodation and activities, if you don’t mind a bit of rain in Southeast Asia or cooler temps in South America (double check the weather for low season in your location of choice). Traveling to smaller towns and less well known destinations can also save you a lot of money, as tourist-track cities and sights have rising prices to match their popularity.

Live like a local – Take cheap local transportation, like buses and trains, wherever possible. You’ll have a more authentic experience on top of saving a ton of money. Street food and local restaurants are a huge bargain over restaurants and hotel food, and are usually more delicious as well!

20130502-052824.jpgget off the beaten track and take local transportation

Travel the World Without Quitting Your Job Tip #4

Live as an expat

Bangkok Apartment Silom Bedroommy home base while I was an expat in Bangkok was the perfect jumping off point for SE Asia weekend travel

Moving away from your home country and into somewhere new automatically means you’re traveling, even if you’re keeping your exact same schedule and activities.. you’re in a new place. You’ll see so much even if you travel out of your new city on the weekends and public holidays.

You get the best of both worlds: travel AND work at the same time!

You’ll be exposed to new ideas, a new work environment, and likely even a new language and totally different culture. Living as an expat is my favorite (and chosen!) method of incorporating more travel into my life.

Bonus: International work is a major resume booster, and you will likely pick up new skills that you otherwise wouldn’t.

Just go – Combine international job searching with a vacation. Unless it is a huge international firm that will be paying your relocation costs, most companies are more likely to hire you if you are already in the country. Schedule a few interviews, do some networking, and you may just end up staying.

Look online – Craigslist is a great source for companies looking for foreigners abroad. The Expat facebook groups in major cities are also usually full of leads (Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro especially).

Work as an English teacher or freelancer for extra cash (or a main gig) – If you are a native English speaker with a degree and/or TEFL, you can get a job teaching English almost anywhere in the world, even with little to no experience. If this isn’t your cup of tea, Elance and other similar freelancing sites offer almost unlimited potential for editing, translating, social media, and design work.

View Rio Brazil Homethe view from my Elance desk in Rio

The above tips are relevant for anyone who has a job that covers their expenses and has a genuine desire to travel. You can make it happen. I did!

Just do it!

Don't Quit Your Day Job - How to Travel More with a "Normal" Job

Do you have any other tips for traveling while working a “normal” job?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. May 19, 2015 / 3:08 am

    Hello from Become A Traveller! I totally agree with what you say here, quitting job and just going to chase your dreams is often not the smartest idea to do, I have been through this several times and each time it was followed by hardships, I think planing your adventures is important. I plan to write a post soon on similar topic, I might refer to your as we share the thought.

    I like your blog very much and therefore nominated you for Liebster Award: Please check it out, I would be delighted to read your answers! Let’s stay connected!

    PS: Finally managed to list you on my travel blog directory as well 😉

    • May 20, 2015 / 2:24 pm

      Great! Please let me know, I would love to read your post and please feel free to refer to me in anyway.. Thanks so much and I was nominated for Liebster last week as well, I’ll add your questions to my previous post and let you know 🙂

      And thanks so much! I love the travel directory idea!

  2. May 21, 2015 / 12:12 pm

    Great post. I’m currently in Chiang Mai now on a year long career break and have meant a few people that have talked their bosses into working remotely. Also a good point on the minimalism. As I prepared to travel for the year, I started purging a lot the material things in my life which ultimately I realized that I didn’t really need. Thanks for the post. Cheers

    • May 21, 2015 / 12:15 pm

      Thanks! I think the minimalism aspect actually helped me the most, more than anything else. Not wasting time or money.. Means I have more of both to spend on something I actually care about (like travel!) rather than house decorating trinkets from Target (most addictive American store everrrr) or another pair of shoes or a dress I’ll wear once

  3. Laura // Bottled Air
    June 8, 2015 / 8:12 pm

    I think this is a wonderful article. I’m really getting a bit tired of people telling everyone to quit their jobs. I mean, if you hate your job, yes you should absolutely quit it. But if not, why does everyone have to become a professional travel blogger?!

    I’ve been ‘travelling’ for about three years now. Parts of those years were really just me being an expat somewhere.Teaching English is such a great way to travel and really experience the culture of a place. That’s why we’re probably gonna go to England next year and get a proper teaching certificate for primary school before heading down to Africa. I really love teaching and I want to be able to contribute to society and give back. I think it’s important to find something you love and do that if it makes you happy! 🙂

    And yes, there are so many ways to save up more money and travel cheaper!.

    • June 10, 2015 / 4:39 pm

      Thanks so much!
      Yes I think it’s about living better – changing whatever in your life is holding you back. Doesn’t necessarily have to be your job. But maybe it is!
      I love being an expat as a way to travel. You get so much deeper into the culture.
      Congratulations! I have some friends in Thailand pursuing their masters – they found their love for teaching, too! Such an amazing (and underrated!) profession.
      It’s all about love! Doing what you love and living a life you love – whatever that means to you 🙂

  4. June 12, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    This is a great post! Sometimes I get hung up on thinking life would be so much better as a full time traveler, but in my heart of hearts I don’t really know if it’s something that would work for me. My home base is D.C. and it’s a city that that I truly love, so I like knowing I will be back at some point. I’m lucky to have a job that lets me work remotely so #4 is my mode of choice. I’m living in a small town in Brazil that isn’t glamorous travel, but has given me the opportunity to see many other parts of Brazil and learn a new culture and lifestyle (the portuguese, not so much yet). Such great tips!

    • June 13, 2015 / 10:22 am

      Thanks so much!
      Remote work can be awesome and such a balance of both sides that opens up so many opportunities and options!

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