How I used to travel like a freak, while still employed! 1

Before I started to travel the world in June 2014, I used to be a corporate employee too, like most other people around me. I did the 9-to-5 chore, and frankly, I did enjoy it. If you are one of those people who know me in real life back then, you will also know that I still used to travel a lot back then, at least once a month. And you might have also seen the multitude of questions that pop up on my Facebook/twitter feed.

“Are you being sponsored for all these trips?”

“How do you get all these leaves, man?”

“Give me your Job!!”


Do you even work


The thing about travel is that, everyone wants to do it, but are restricted by various factors that control their life. Even me. If I had a choice, (and an endless cash supply despite having no job), I would have travelled throughout the year. But sadly, that was not the case. I had a regular job, I had to support my family, I didn’t use credit cards, I did not have a single penny of inheritance or savings on which I could fall back every time I get the travel itch, and worst of all, I had only 18 days of leave a year, working in a workaholic Singapore! Then how the hell did I keep travelling?


The truth was, there were so many hacks to travelling throughout the year, even when employed. So, to answer once and for all all the questions that I used to get about this topic, I simply decided to do a blog post, and lay my life out to explain how I do it.


Preach, baby! Preach!


1)     Want or need?

First of all, you really, really, really must want to travel so hard, that you devote your life to achieving it. If just because you want to be at a place that a friend has been to, or because his FB pictures are making you jealous, don’t start booking your flight yet. You need to really want to see that place, else you will not have the motivation or the inclination to plan a trip properly. In other words, ask yourself if you are tourist or a traveller. If you are the former, the below points may not necessarily apply to you.


2)     Money

Aint this the biggest problem of them all? So lets tackle this in detail:

a)      Work hard

Yep, you heard me! You need to have a stable job, to be sure that you earn enough to support your travel itch. If I am not travelling, you will find me working 12 to 14 hours everyday, ensuring that I don’t miss out on any bonuses, that my boss is happy (this will be covered in an upcoming section in detail), and that I am in line for any career growth that is possible.

b)     Save for a rainy day

I am not going to go in-depth into this, as there are planning of financial management experts on the internet already. So, here are my personal favorites items for saving:

      • Put away a particular portion of your salary each month, for some rainy day. Best to try a concept called ‘term laddering’. (if you don’t know what that is, check with a financial consultant
      • Want to live free? Then, be single! No other explanation needed. Period.
      • Save on your weekend expenses. It’s statistically proved that more than 50% of your non-essential expenses for the week, are actually incurred during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, if you know how to minimize your expenses on those days, bingo! As for me, I don’t club, I try to live healthy and avoid alcohol (which isn’t working very well right now, though!), and would prefer to hang around with friends than do expensive shit.
I lived on tea and Simit in Istanbul. Partly because I was broke, and then because I was saving!

I lived on tea and Simit in Istanbul. Partly because I was broke, and then because I was saving!

3)     Plan now, travel later!

Unless you are a rich sonafagun, you must learn how to plan for your trip efficiently, well ahead of the actual travel. Lets say you have unexpectedly received 2 days of public holiday this week. Would you plan something to travel on those dates? I don’t, because the entire country would be doing the same thing, and the prices are going to be sky-high. I would rather spend those 2 days at home, and plan for a cheaper trip 3 months down the lane.

a)      Fly cheap

Try blindly booking the best flight that you can, and you will become bankrupt in no time. I use fare-compare sites. My personal favorites are skyscanner and Both have got me some incredibly cheap travel options in the past.

The next point is only for Indians. We are obviously the lucky folks who don’t have options in most countries to travel without visa. So, here’s my advice, first see the countries that you can go without a visa. And there are plenty of options out there. Hell, you could go to Madagascar, Seychelles, Jamaica or even south Korea (only Jeju Island though ;-)) (

Or, even if you required a visa, there are certain countries which let you get that visa online. Check out my list here to help you with those countries.

Once this list is expleted, I will look to conquer the rest of the world 😀

The Maldives is visa-on-arrival for me!!!! Well, on second thoughts, it is VOA for everyone. Duh.

The Maldives is visa-on-arrival for me!!!! Well, on second thoughts, it is VOA for everyone. Duh.

b)     Sleep cheap

You’d be a fool to not use during your travel, if you have a biased notion of safety on the platform. Couchsurfing is the best thing that has happened to me, reducing my travel expenses tremendously. If you want to travel, and accommodation costs are worrying you, you should check out the website. Plus, the chance of meeting some amazing people across the globe, is too good to pass on.

If you are facing troubles finding a couchsurfing host, maybe these tips and tricks will help you out!

c)      Live cheap

A few tricks during your travel can help you a long way in reducing the costs amazingly.

      • Make an ABSOLUTE RESOLVE only to use public transport in the place that you are visiting. No taxis. Even if the local population does not understand English, there will always be someone to help you out.
      • Do not eat at restaurants! My favorite trick. When travelling, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I just visit a supermarket, and buy random items, check for the nutrition information, and just ensure that I have enough nutrition for the day. This can be through fruits, processed foods, cookies, plain bread etc. Are you travelling to eat or to see a place?? (note: exception is made only when I want to try out any of the local delicacies)
Because I am living cheap in Warsaw, I am tempted to make you my dinner for tonight! Really!

Because I am living cheap in Warsaw, I am tempted to make you my dinner for tonight! Really!

4)     Managing a job and travel

a)      Plan your leaves well

Got only 18 days leave in a year? Who cares? There are 90+ weekend days, 10-15 public holidays also in a year. Get a calendar of the public holidays, and plan your next trip so that it mixes public holidays, weekends and an intelligent mix of late flights (for leaving) and early flights (for returning). That’s the only thing you need to travel at least once every month.

b)     File your leaves early

You are not the only one who want to take a leave around a public holiday. So, is the entire office. So, ensure that you file your leaves early. In my case, my leaves for the entire year are filed in the very first month of the year. Try doing that 😉


If you don’t get it, I’ll scream it again. KEEP YOUR BOSS HAPPY! He/She decides your leaves, your pay, your bonuses, your time off, everything! I don’t think there is any boss anywhere who would have a problem with you travelling, unless there is pending work to finish from your end.

d)     Groom the people below you

As long as the people who work under you, are capable of doing their regular job without you, you have nothing to be bothered about. And neither does your boss.

e)      And lastly, be ready to carry a laptop.

Yeah, true! When you plan a travel months in advance, things tend to go crazy at work a week before the actual trip. If it does, always be ready to carry your laptop with you, and work 2-3 hours everyday. Why? Because you have to KEEP YOUR BOSS HAPPY! So, that you can take the next trip without any obstacle from him/her.


Note that many of these tips do not apply to me anymore, since I am not employed on a 9-to-5 job anymore. But, if you are, hopefully this will help you out!


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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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