How I Manage to Balance Study, Work and Travel
Even with the numerous cutbacks to my spending I have made, there is no way I would have saved as much as I have without working my butt off. In fact, given my obsession with food I probably often spend more than some of my friends.
The reason I have been able to save enough for not just one but probably a bit for a second RTW is because I’ve also made sacrifices with my time. Whether that means giving up my weekends to work or spending late nights in the library catching up on study time I have missed while being at work.
A common question and concern I often get from friends and family is how I manage to not just keep on top of university study but actually achieve some good marks. Others have also asked me how I can manage to travel while still studying- it’s often presented as either/or situation on many travel forums I post on.
Given I’ve just finished the end of another semester, with my last exam on last Friday, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to explain exactly how I manage to keep on top of everything.
1. You need to prioritise travel
I was super bad at saving during my first year at university. My saving and financial decisions only became better when I actually set myself a goal. I knew I wanted to go away for a long period of time and I knew I would have to save quite a bit of money in order to do it.
Saving for travel while studying is never going to be easy. It’s not surprising that an increase in my work hours and the subsequent increase of my travel savings also coincided with a bit of a drop in my social life.
I suddenly wasn’t going out every Thursday night, I wasn’t buying tickets to the events run by the various clubs and societies on campus, and I wasn’t participating in debating events as much as I would have liked.
However every time I declined yet another event invitation on Facebook I kept reminding myself about amazing nights out in Europe or cheap drinks in Central America.
You can’t expect to get something for nothing and if you aren’t passionate and determined enough about your travel goal you aren’t going to get very far. Make that decision to travel, set a time when you want to travel and a budget of what you want to save and you are half way there.
2. Get organised
Funnily enough whenever I take on more hours of work it seems to coincide with an increase in my marks.
Last semester I worked the most hours so far, increasing my work hours from 15 hours and 5 days a week to 30 hours and 7 days a week. However last semester was also one of my best semesters in terms of results and actually the most on top of things I have ever felt during my time at university.
It seems strange but I think the reason this occurred is that working so much meant I had to really organise time for studying. Instead of putting something off and saying I’ll do that study tomorrow, or I’ll read that law case next week, I suddenly had no time tomorrow and had to get stuff done straightaway.
This meant I was more determined to stay in the library and finish that essay until it was done, or get through the weeks’ readings during my day off rather than leave it for next week and actually never do it.
Establishing a study timetable and actually keeping a diary for the first time in my life really helped me organise my spare time around studying in ways that I never had before.
3. Find a job that you enjoy
No matter how much I love travel and am determined to save I don’t think I could ever have stuck to my stringent work schedule if I was working in hospitality.
My career in hospitality lasted all of a month and was characterised by exhausted nights and dreading the days I was working. Some people love the industry but it was just not for me, probably because I have pretty bad back pain and standing on my feet all shift isn’t especially appealing.
Both of my jobs very rarely leave me feeling drained. Sometimes nannying can leave me feeling a little bit shitty if the kids decide to give me a hard time but mostly it’s easy going and just another part of my routine.
I’m also lucky enough to work with a wonderful bunch of people at Carsales (a website where I work in their call centre helping customers with their problems) which makes going to work every weekend actually lots of fun.
Don’t stick around and keep doing a job that you hate. If you have a crappy boss or if you are left feeling totally emotionally and physically drained after a shift then it’s probably time to try and find something else. Working lots of hours for travel is so much easier when you are enjoying going to work.
4. Use ‘empty’ time
By empty time I mean time you wouldn’t otherwise be doing anything- i.e. when you are in the car, when you are on your lunch break.
Last year I was listening to Spanish listening exercises while driving- this gave me about another 2 hours of Spanish study I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
When I’m nannying and the kid is at his piano lesson, or football training I make sure I have my textbooks and a fully charged laptop so I can use this extra time to get some study done.
Spend a whole week writing down everything you do and how much time you spend on it. At the end of the week you’ll probably be able to see times where you could using extra time to study.
5. Try not to sacrifice sleep
Extra or empty time does not count the 8 hours a day you should be sleeping. The minute you start regularly sacrificing sleep to work or to study is the minute you will burn out!
What are your tips for managing a healthy work and study (or even life) balance? Comment below!