With a full-time job, I spend at least eight hours a day working—often more. Then there’s the commute and the time I take for vacation, holidays, and weekends.
To successfully continue travel writing with a full-time job, planning time off is key.
While we all have the same 24 hours in a day, each of us determines how we spend it differently. The same is true for our time off.
According to Project: Time Off, Americans forfeit over 658 million vacation days annually. If you’re not using those vacation days, you should be. That’s where I get the most of my travel writing done.
I get 26 vacation days, 10 holidays, and 52 weekends each year. I use them wisely for travel writing.
Here’s my method.
1. Planning ahead
Throughout the year, I keep a list of places I want to see, along with activities and events I want to schedule for the following year.
In December, I lay out the next year, so that no time off goes unused.
I leave a couple of days for unplanned personal emergencies and I avoid taking a vacation during extremely busy times at work. Still, with a little planning, I can take my accrued vacation time and not affect my company schedule.
When you make your plan, consider the best time to go to a location and schedule those times as your anchor dates. For example, this year I planned to go to the wildebeest migration in Tanzania with Great Escape Publishing. That was an August event so those weeks went on the calendar first.
After that, I look at date-specific events I can attend. Are there festivals or events that happen on a specific weekend? Write those on the calendar next.
Planning ahead also helps when you’re working with Visitor and Convention Bureaus for creating individual FAM trips. They appreciate the advanced planning and are more willing to work with you when they have adequate time to make arrangements. Six months in advance isn’t too far ahead.
Don’t forget travel media shows and conferences. These are often scheduled a year in advance, so they are easy to plan.
2. Make time for writing
After planning the travel, the next step is planning the writing. (It’s important to remember the writing part of travel writing!)
Since I’m at the computer all day for my job, I tend to do all my major writing on the weekends when I’m fresh.
I don’t overcommit or accept tight deadlines. That takes away the fun.
Evenings after a day at the office are a good time to explore local shops and try out local restaurants. They’re also good for less taxing jobs like editing and research.
3. Take manageable steps
Remember, even if you don’t have a full-time job, you can’t do it all at once. Plan your work and work your plan! Success will come.