How to Juggle a Career and Backpacking
Traveling when you’re a student is relatively easy. With 3 to 4 months off in the summer, you can take your backpack and travel to a few countries. This however becomes more difficult to accomplish when you work full-time. Sadly, in North America, we are limited to 2 weeks vacation per year (compare to 4 weeks in Australia or the U.K). When you start with only 2 weeks of vacation time, you’ll have to work a few years before those weeks slowly increase to 3 and then eventually to 4 weeks. So as a young career-oriented person who enjoys backpacking- what can you do?
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! It may be difficult to negotiate your vacation weeks when you’re straight out of school but one thing for sure is that you can try to negotiate your extra weeks after one year of employment. If traveling is a priority for you, you can accept a lower increase in salary for an extra one (or two) weeks of vacation per year. It’s all about priority. But do remember that vacation weeks are negotiable, just as your salary is.
- Maximize your public Holidays: Every country has public holidays and if you’re looking to travel, take your vacation at the same time as a public holiday. You’ll use up less vacation days for the same amount of time off. What I normally do is travel during the Christmas season. Yes, prices are higher, but most companies do give employees a few days off between Christmas and New Year so you can easily leave for 3 weeks and use 2.5 weeks of vacation.
- Find an internship or job abroad: If you’re looking to start a career but want to be away from home, you can always consider an intership abroad- paid or unpaid. You’ll be required to spend lots of time searching and patience is a virtue to land an intership that’s directly related to your field. But definitely worth it if you want to live abroad for a few months. Finding a job directly related to the career you’re in can be a little more difficult. Generally, companies will hire very senior people to work abroad. But if that’s your goal, you should work on getting solid corporate experience in your home country and keep on applying to jobs abroad. You never know!