Adjusting work-life balance to make more time to travel

October 24, 2012
An inviting cottage on Martha's Vineyard, Massachussets

An inviting cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Here are some tips from an expert on how to make more time to travel while you are still working

The demands of work and/or caregiving (either for children, elderly parents, or both at once) can be so consuming that they allow little if any time to travel. After all, time is finite and no one can do it all. Whether you are male or female, there are always tradeoffs when it comes to work-life balance. But you may be feeling like you are at a place in your career when you want to adjust the amount of time and level of effort you allocate to work—to have more personal time for travel or other leisure pursuits.

Often quoted in newspapers and magazines, Pat Katepoo produces a blog called, where she advises readers on how to negotiate more flexible work arrangements with their employers. Her most recent post caught my eye: Enjoy Time Off for Travel Without Quitting Your Job.

Here are some of Pat’s tips:

1) Plan more 3 or 4-day getaways

A long weekend is generally too short and costly for an overseas trip but a 3 or 4-day jaunt, by air or car, can provide a real break in the everyday grind. You might plan to take a 4-day cruise that departs from a port close to home. Plans like this are easily achievable by taking a day off (Monday or Friday) attached to the weekend or by adding another vacation day to a three-day holiday weekend. If you do this frequently, and don’t have sufficient paid leave, this might reduce your income up to 10%. Would it be feasible and worthwhile to take the cut to have more time to travel?

2) Permanently reduce your schedule to a 3 or 4-day work week

You probably need to think long and hard about this one for two reasons: 1) It would likely result in a substantial loss in pay, and 2) workloads aren’t always reduced proportionately when a full-time employee cuts back to 3/5 or 4/5 time. But would it work to stay at your job and cut back your hours to allow for more frequent trips?

3) Request/negotiate an extra week off per year

Katepoo says this strategy generally works better for workers over age 45 rather than younger ones but you might be able to sell your boss on the idea of an additional vacation week per year. She notes that the average vacation for American workers is between 10-14 days a year although it is likely to be longer than that for baby boomers who have been working with the same employer for many years. She suggests asking for up to two weeks more of vacation, not clumped together with your existing leave, providing a good rationale for why it wouldn’t comprise productivity. Katepoo estimates that might reduce your income by four percent.

4) Go for Broke: Negotiate a six-week sabbatical

If you have been at your job for some time and are highly valued, a six-week sabbatical could enable you to take an extended vacation. Depending on the kind of work you do, many employers see value in work-related immersion vacations, voluntourism, or adventures abroad, for example.

Katepoo’s website and publications provide helpful strategies and even wording you can use to obtain more time off—and more time to travel.

Other articles on this website that suggest ways to find more time to travel:

  • Reply
    October 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Or you can be a travel writer and then travel and work are the same thing.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I find that 4 day getaways are just not optimal. Unless you stay close to home, you spend 2 of those days traveling most of the day. It’s just not relaxing for me at all. If I can’t go for at least 5 days, I just don’t anymore.

  • Reply
    Living Large
    October 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve always wanted to take a sabbatical and just travel for a period of time. Maybe someday! We do try to take a few small vacations per year, 3-4 days at a time.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Just like everything else in life, there are “seasons.” Best, Irene

  • Reply
    Alisa Bowman
    October 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I like this idea. I want to travel more with the family and we’re working out some ways to do that before the kid grows up and we’re in an old folks home.

  • Reply
    ruth pennebaker
    October 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I’m married to an academic and have to say they’re on to something vis a vis sabbaticals. You simply need to get away sometimes so you can be reinvigorated.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Lots of great ideas here that I will pass on to my adult children.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Huh, you might be interested in a recent WSJ article–it was in the Marketplace section yesterday, I believe. The article focused on businesses that allow employees unlimited paid days off (they don’t even keep track). You could definitely travel more with that arrangment!

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