Balancing Parenting, Teaching + Travel: Interview with JaLacia Powell

JaLacia Powell was born and raised in Texas. She calls Houston home but often finds herself driving to Austin quite frequently. JaLacia is a new mom who loves spending time with her little pageant queen daughter. Aside from mommy duty, she is a business education teacher at a 9th grade campus in the same district she once graduated from. She is active in her sorority, and once had her own blog but has now transitioned to also being a travel agent at Pack Your Bags Travel Agency. Travel has been a huge priority for her, and balancing it on top of her multiple passions and job can obviously have its challenges, that’s why I wanted to chat with her on how she makes time for it all.

Do you have a certain amount of vacation days per year with your job? 

Teachers get about two weeks of paid time off each year (this includes sick time), and each day unused in the school year can be rolled over to the next school year.

How often do you try and travel within a year? 

I try to travel internationally every other year and domestically every other month.

Do you ever feel limited to how often you can travel because of your job? 

Yes! I’m grateful for summers off after summer school, two weeks in the winter, and Spring Break, but many do not realize that if a teacher plans to have a baby or another health concern that requires extended time off, we have to put off our health until these seasons. On the other hand, if a teacher wishes to be promoted to administration, these breaks become shorter as the responsibilities increase. Teachers can squeeze a quick trip here and there when we have a four day weekend. In comparison, those with corporate jobs can take off for a week or two when they wish anytime of the year for the most part.

Do you find it hard to unplug from work while traveling? 

During the school year, yes. I honestly should turn off email notifications on the weekends and during holidays. Sometimes I have to grade papers or add in grades if I didn’t get to finish at work. I’ve taken papers to grade to the airport before – multi-tasking! I’ve also had to communicate to parents quite often late in the evenings.

Why is it important to you to have a career but also incorporate travel into your life? 

After a long week, I am more cheerful when I’ve returned from a weekend trip. I often share some of my travels with my students because many have never traveled or even flown on a plane. Seeing their excitement about learning about my travels warms my heart as I feel that I am encouraging them to be travellers. This is why I have collaborated with EF Tours to host a Language and Service Immersion to Peru in July 2020 for my students. I have also began working on a project that merges education, travel, and college preparation.

If you had a piece of advice for someone that is trying to maintain a career & also see the world what would it be? 

Plan, Budget, and Communicate. The average “9-5’er” probably has to coordinate with their team so that only one person is off at a time. I suggest communicating to a manager the dates you are wishing to plan a vacation with enough time in advance. Speak to your manager before officially request time off, follow up if it’s taking longer than normal to approve, confirm, remind, leave instructions for your team just in case, and inform others you routinely or will possibly communicate with before you’re out so that all matters can be taken care of prior to departing. You are less likely to get email while you’re out as a result. In turn, you will be confident in setting up that automatic “out of the office” email.

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