How To Get Time Off For Long Distance Hikes And Travel

So you want to hike the Camino de Santiago, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail or any of the other amazing long distance treks in the world? Well I am certainly with you. This wonderful cartoon from Boots McFarland sums up my weekly state of mind perfectly:


So how do you find the time? I have my eye on the 500 mile Colorado Trail next but I want to do it all at once, which would take about 30 days. The problem is, like most people, I still have a day job, although I suspect when my next book is published I will become a full time writer, able to walk whenever I please. So how do you get the time off for trips that last longer than a typical 2 week vacation? I decided to find out how other people do it, by running polls on some of the most popular hiking forums around the world and I am happy to share my results with you now.

I asked the simple question, How Did You Get The Time Off To Walk Long Distance Treks? Here are the combined results from about 100 respondents:

Retired Already – 17%
Between Jobs/Unemployed – 1%
Quit My Job – 2%
Flexible Boss – 14%
I Work For Myself – 25%
Independently Wealthy – 0%
Saved All Of My Vacation Time – 15%
Student On Break – 5%
Educator On Summer Break – 11%
Other – 10%

Some of the “Other” responses included things like, religious accommodation, teaching English overseas so employed by others but flexible and I am in a band so I can walk when we are not busy. Most of the “I Work For Myself” folks said it can be a little stressful working for yourself, and then spending weeks on end in the wilderness, away from the internet, and not earning income, but it is well worth it. Some other interesting responses:

“I am taking vacation time and two weeks unpaid leave. Between the Camino budget and saving to cover the 2 weeks unpaid it has been it has been an interesting winter.”

“In order to do another – longer – pilgrimage, I quit my job. Not good for the money but I thought ‘you may only get one chance’.”

I have friends that are married and decided to quit their jobs as nurses to hike the Pacific Crest Trail last summer. They quit their jobs in Seattle, knowing that the demand for nurses would make it very easy for them to find another job when they finished the 5 month trek.

I would fall under the “Flexible Boss” category. When I first hiked the Camino de Santiago in the summer of 2014 I simply told my boss, I am going to do this, I will be gone for 30+ days. I was willing to quit to do so. He gave me the time, promising my job when I returned, but I had to do it unpaid, without using my vacation time.

Tips For Taking The Leap

  • If you have a location dependent job, sit down with your boss and ask for the time you need. Chances are it will use up all of your vacation time and you will probably have to take a sort of ‘leave’ but it can be well worth it if you value travel and these types of experiences. I thought for sure I would get a hard no, but I didn’t.
  • If you don’t love your job then use this time between quitting and starting another, to travel outside of the 2 week vacation.
  • When it comes time to ask for a raise, instead of asking for money, ask for this as a benefit you value.



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