How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time

A full-time job shouldn’t stop you from satisfying your wanderlust. The Local spoke to Travel After 5 blogger Alline Waldhem to find out her tips and tricks for travellers who only have 25 days of annual leave.

How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time
Photo: Alline in Lisbon, Portugal

Feel like your day job is thwarting your travel plans? Keep telling yourself you don’t have the time (or cash) to take a trip? Where there’s a will, there’s a way, says travel aficionado Alline Waldhelm.

“It’s really a mindset. I love to do it and, on average, I travel somewhere once a month. In the summer, I fly every single weekend.”

Alline, who is originally from Brazil, caught the travel bug when she first visited Germany 12 years ago. It’s a trip that changed her life; she resolved to live in Europe one day and sure enough returned several years later to study in Munich before settling in Vienna.

“I always really liked traveling to Europe. When I was living in Brazil, I managed to come four times before moving to Munich to study German,” she tells The Local.

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Photo: Alline in Budapest last year

Although she works full time as a financial analyst, Alline doesn’t let her job get in the way of her adventures. In Austria, she explains, overtime is discouraged so it gives her plenty of time and the flexibility to take a flight on a Friday evening and return on the Sunday night.

“It’s actually really manageable,” she says. “For me, it’s so important to have these breaks. Of course, you don’t disconnect from your life in two or three days but that’s not the point. There’s so much to explore; you might be physically tired but it’s a mental break and you go back to the office on Monday with a lighter mood.”

While she reserves the bulk of her annual leave for travelling back to Brazil, she still takes a couple of weeks over summer to plan a longer trip. This year, she’s heading to Costa Smeralda in Sardinia – “The beaches are unbelievable and I want to explore more parts of the La Maddalena archipelago” – before spending a week in the south of Portugal which she describes as “full of history and culture, welcoming people and delicious food.”

Photo: Alline in Sicily during summer 2018

Where to find travel inspiration

When looking for new places to travel, Alline often turns to her most trusted resource: her friends and ex-classmates who are scattered across Europe. Or, if there’s a specific city or country that she is keen to visit, she’ll follow news sites like The Local or Time Out to keep up with local events. She’s also an active member of Facebook groups like European Travellers #WhereToNext? that are dedicated to travel tips and inspiration.

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When Alline is feeling really adventurous she’ll use a feature like Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search to find the best deals on cheap flights. It’s how she stumbled on a great return flight to Larnaca, a pretty port city in southern Cyprus, last Christmas. Often, she starts with the destination, whether it’s a recommendation or her own find, and then pads out the trip once she’s booked.

She believes it’s still possible to ‘get off the beaten track’ even if you only have a couple of days to explore. In her experience, the best way to do this is to not plan too rigidly. Instead, pick a couple of things you really want to see or do and then play the rest of the trip by ear.

Photo: Alline in Lake Garda

“I try to be spontaneous. I really enjoy arriving in a city and just walking around and seeing what people are doing. I don’t plan every minute because usually you can meet someone and they suggest something to do. Leaving your time open means you may run into something more interesting or discover something different along the way.”

Find out how to discover your own life-changing place

The best advice she can offer full-time workers who are keen to travel more is to think logistically when booking flights and hotels. For short weekend trips, Alline mostly sticks to Europe and limits flight time to under a couple of hours so that the journey itself doesn’t eat too much into her precious exploring time.

The same goes once she’s touched down at her destination.

“Take London, for example, there are five airports and some of them it takes hours to get from the airport to the city centre. So I always find the airport that is closest. If it’s a small saving but it means I I lose an hour getting to the hotel, that’s something I won’t do.”

Alline adds that although you may be able to find a nicer hotel further out of the city “it’s not doable” when you only have a couple of days. Instead, she advises staying somewhere that may not be as plush but is more conveniently located. This way, you won’t “lose time, which is very precious on a short trip”.

Finally, she says: “Always be half ready to travel”. Alline always keeps a bag packed with the essentials like her passport, camera and tripod. This way, it only takes half an hour to pack so she can set off at short notice.

“If you have these things in your suitcase, you won’t forget anything. Everything is in the same place, half the work is already done.”

Alline’s top travel tips

  • Keep a bag packed with all your travel essentials

  • Check flight comparison sites to find new destinations 

  • Ask friends who live locally for insider tips

  • Look to Facebook groups and local news outlets for inspiration

  • If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, take a ‘bridging day’ to turn it into a four-day weekend

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Lufthansa.

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What’s on: Seven unmissable events in Switzerland this August

As summer continues, many festivals and other fun events take place throughout the country. This is what is happening in Switzerland in August.

What's on: Seven unmissable events in Switzerland this August

While all the other events are regional, one takes place in all of Switzerland:

The National Day, August 1st

On this day in 1291, the foundation of what would eventually become Switzerland was famously laid.

The official celebration takes place on the Rütli meadow in Uri, where  representatives of the three founding cantons – Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden – came together on this day in 1291 to swear the oath of allegiance and sign the Federal Chapter (and no, William Tell was not there).

During the official ceremony, the current Swiss president (this year it is Viola Amherd), addresses the nation and the Swiss national anthem is sung.

Elsewhere in the country, including in your local community, there are bonfires and fireworks. In some places, children parade through the streets with lanterns bearing the Swiss cross and their canton’s flag. There are parades with people in traditional costumes and with yodelling choirs, alphorns and flag-throwers.

The Great Alpine Festival, Riederalp, August 4th 

If you want to see something ‘typically Swiss’, then this annual Alp Festival will deliver, as it focuses on various customs and traditions of this Valais mountain community.

The highlight of the day is the grand parade through the village, featuring  various bands and beautifully decorated floats 

Floss Festival, Basel, August 6th – August 24th 

This open-air music festival, featuring local and international acts, takes place on a floating stage on the Rhine, with 50,000 spectators watching the artists from seats set up on the steps of the Kleinbasel river bank.

This link will show you how many seats are still available for each concert.

Locarno Film Festival, August 7th – August 17th 

This annual open-air event is Switzerland’s most famous cinema festival, which takes in the city’s Piazza Grande.

About 8,000 seats, along with one of the largest screens in the world, are set up for film enthusiasts.

This year, 18 films, including six world premieres, will be screened.

You can purchase the tickets here

Zurich Street Parade, August 10th

Touted as the World’s Largest Techno Party, it is a lively, high-vibe event with  thousands of music fans dancing on the streets of Zurich to the sounds of electro beats.

The 2-km parade starts at Utoquai in Zurich’s Seefeld district before rolling around Lake Zurich.

Zurich will also host two swimming events, which will hopfully bring a welcome relief in the midst of hot summer:
Zurich Limmat Swim, August 17th
As they do every year, swimmers from across Switzerland will gather in Zurich at noon to swim in the Limmat river where this activity is normally prohibited throughout the year.

If you’d like to snag one of the  tickets to this event, you will need to be quick. because only a limited number of spaces is available so the tickets tend to sell out quickly.

They go on sale three days in advance of the event from 5 pm sharp.

The alternative date for the swim (in case of bad weather on the 17th, is August 24th).

Zurich Seeüberquerung, August 21st

The second swimming event in the city is its annual Seeüberquerung (lake crossing).

The competitive event is reserved for good swimmers only, who will cross the distance of 1.5 km, starting at the Strandbad Mythenquai and ending at the Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen.

Ready? Go! Swimmers leave the start of the annual Lake Zurich crossing swimming event . Photo: Michael Buholzer / AFP

Tickets, which cost 25 francs per person, will go on sale on August 19th at noon.

READ MORE: Do people really swim to work in Zurich?