The Secrets to Travel Often With a 9 to 5 job – Interview with Helena Bradbury
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Not everyone has the opportunity to travel whenever and wherever they please. You may be restricted by your job and the amount of time you can take off, or by your location and how far you can travel.
Today I’m speaking with Helena Bradbury, who is a traveler and photographer from the UK. Working a 9-5 job at a publisher in Oxford and London doesn’t stop her love for the outdoors, having adventures, and traveling!
She wants to show people they can travel solo and on a budget while having a full-time job. Her blog offers plenty of 48-hour guides and inspirational photos which will get your feet itching!
What we talk about in the episode:
We have a chat about how to get reasonably priced flights in peak times, how Helena gets around the crowds, how to travel on a budget, how to travel often with a 9 to 5 job, and she also shares how to get most out of a weekend trip.
If you’ve been wondering how to travel the world when you have a full-time job, you’ll love today’s episode!
If you enjoyed this episode, I would be so appreciative if you rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts. It will help other travellers find my podcast and I may even read it out on my next show! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” then “Write a Review.” I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Snippets from this episode:
(Has been edited for readability)
How do you use weekends efficiently to make the most out of your time?
I do find that I have to plan them very well. I’ll try to get flights that are on a Friday right after work and then return as late as possible on Sunday evening. Then I tend to prioritize what I’m really interested in doing and plan my weekend around those activities.
I’ll plan a route around the city and to try and hit as many spots as I can that I’ve planned into my itinerary. I also try to make the most of all the daylight hours, which means I’ll get up at sunrise to get any photos I want to take and be at any attractions or any places that require tickets at 8 am or at 9 am that I’ve booked in advance.
Once I’ve done those main tourist attractions first thing in the morning, then I have more time to wander around areas of the city that are less time-pressured, and I can explore the architecture or the shops or the old town areas and cities. I’ll do that later in the day when there’s less of an issue of crowds and queues.
How do you get cheap flights on weekends?
It’s more expensive to fly on the weekend. If I chose to fly on a Wednesday at 2:00 pm, I could probably get it cheaper, but I know that that’s the price I’m going to have to pay for the time I have off work. There are tricks I do to cut down the cost as much as possible. The tool I use the most is Google Flights. I will type in somewhere that I’m really interested in going, and I’ll find out what the flight schedules are like for the times that suit me. Once I find the flights, you turn on the “track flight” toggle button.
I’ll track the flight for months sometimes. Getting those alerts as soon as the price has changed is so useful. Because you know what the cost of the flight has been like previously, you can see that it’s a good price and probably the one you should go for. If you’re six weeks out and the price has dropped to the lowest it’s been in the last three months, then it’s probably the flight to buy.
Another tip I have is that I have flown super early on a Saturday morning which is way cheaper because who wants to get a flight at 5:00 am on Saturday morning?
Do you recommend using your annual leave in one block or spreading it out?
I know that being in the UK, I am really fortunate that I do get a good holiday allowance. I get 21 days of annual leave plus bank holidays, but I also use most of that to see my boyfriend in America, so that tends to be used in about three blocks for when we visit each other for a week and a half to two weeks at a time.
I honestly do think it depends on the kind of traveler that you are. Sometimes I visit places and wish I’d taken some time off to stay there longer and explore more. Obviously it doesn’t mean I can’t go back at a future point, but I think it does depend on how you want to use your time off because for some people, taking it all off in one big hit for two weeks is exactly how you want to spend your holiday with a nice relaxing two weeks off. It very much depends on the person, and it is fine to do it either way.
What advice would you give to Canadians, Americans, and Australians who want new travel experiences without paying too much or flying too far?
I’m a really big believer in you don’t have to catch a flight to travel. I really think if you look around you in your own country, there are so many different things on offer that people forget to explore because it’s just on their doorstep. Whether it’s in their own country or whether it is only a short flight away, it’s so ingrained into people now that you need to get on a flight to have some kind of experience and to have a holiday, but there’s so much to see around you, and I think people should definitely explore their backyard a bit more.
How do you afford to travel when flying on weekends and peak times?
It’s a lot of planning and prioritizing. I do not earn a big salary by any means. I very rarely buy any additional things like clothing, and I’m conscious of how many times I’m going out for dinner or how many drinks I’m buying on the weekend. I try and budget in that respect on the day-to-day.
In terms of when I’m actually traveling, I massively cut costs on accommodation and food as much as possible. I will pretty much always stay in a hostel. They’re just so cheap and always in a good location.
If I get a flight on a Saturday morning instead of Friday night, then I’ve cut down on another night of accommodation costs as well. I also take a lot of my own food with me. Packed snacks stop me from buying things while I’m out during the day. If I want to treat myself to a meal in the evening, then I feel less guilty about doing that because I’ve not bought any other food throughout the day.
What tools or websites would you recommend so people can easily book a trip or travel on a budget?
For people who are starting out taking trips, one of my favorite websites is Weekend.com. They basically are a website that pairs a hotel or some sort of accommodation with a flight just for a weekend. It’s literally made for people who are looking into only traveling on the weekend, and because it makes this package for you with the flights and the hotel, it makes it easy for people who are maybe a bit daunted by that first big busy weekend trip.