After graduating from high school, Kay Rodriguez’s mother bought her a flight to London, England and told her to figure out the rest from there. After traveling in England for two weeks solo, it was pretty clear that Kay had developed a strong love for solo travel.
After this trip, Kay knew she had to make travel a priority throughout college and now while working in a management consulting job. Six years since that first trip to London, Kay has traveled to over 30 countries and five continents, allowing her to meet dozens of amazing friends and people, and inspiring her to start two travel blogs. I chatted with Kay to find out how she manages to keep travel and priority even with her demanding career, here’s what she had to say…
Tell me a bit about what you do for a living.
Earlier this year, I made the leap from a very demanding management consulting job to work in business strategy for a large and well-known media company in Washington. Day-to-day, I analyze revenue and website traffic data, perform a ton of market and competitive research, and provide recommendations to senior leadership on next steps and potential strategies for our online platforms.
Do you have a certain amount of vacation days per year with your job?
Yes, I get 15 days plus two “floating holidays,” which are basically vacation days that don’t roll over.
How often do you try and travel within a year?
I typically travel at least one to two times per month. Sometimes I’m gone every weekend. Last year, I traveled to 12 different countries with my vacation days and, on top of that, took over a dozen domestic trips within the United States.
Do you ever feel limited to how often you can travel because of your job?
Yes and no. With 52 weeks every year, that means every person has 52 weekends they can use to travel. That’s 104 days, not including holidays and paid time off! Because I take advantage of a LOT of those weekends, I actually feel like I get to travel fairly often. However, I know that’s not feasible for people who have commitments back at home.
What I find more difficult is traveling at the level of depth that I typically enjoy. I always feel pretty rushed when I take weekend trips because it’s often not enough time to see a place fully, meet locals, and appreciate offbeat and ‘under-the-radar’ attractions. When you’re working, though, you have to make good use of the time you have, and although it sometimes doesn’t feel like enough, it’s better than not traveling at all.
Do you find it hard to unplug from work while traveling?
Not usually. My employer is very understanding of the need for vacation, and therefore I’m able to set expectations about connectivity and availability upfront. Some of my colleagues prefer to be connected to their work emails while traveling. I typically opt to disconnect as completely as possible.
Why is it important to you to have a career but also incorporate travel into your life?
In my early years of my career, I feel like I still have so much to learn. Knowing how to run a business effectively is something that will continue to serve me for many years, and I’m glad I’m getting exposure to this early-on. However, like I mentioned before, travel is one of my greatest passions in life and one that keeps me refreshed and open-minded. It’s an education in itself. My career and my travels work hand-in-hand, and I get to learn about the world in very different ways through each.
What inspired you to start a travel blog?
I started my first travel blog in 2012, while I was still in college. In the summer after my freshman year, I sold my car and used the money to travel to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Guatemala. During that summer, I started a blog to share my photos and let my friends and family know about my various adventures. At the end of the summer, I had over 500 people following me on WordPress. Instead of stopping at the end of the summer, I made it a priority to continue traveling during every school break.
Fast forward five years, and here I am! Not only do I run two travel blogs, but I also work full-time in the digital media and publishing industry. Learning about writing, publishing, and running a media business has consumed all aspects of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
If you had a piece of advice for someone that is trying to maintain a career & also see the world what would it be?
Make travel your top priority. If you know exactly what your travel goals are each year, you can find a way to make your career and your vacation days work to achieve them. Seeing the world costs money and time, so if you’re willing to stockpile your vacation days, travel on weekends, and max out long holidays, you can see a lot of the world, even if you work in an office every day.