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How to Hike and Travel Around a 9 to 5 Job

Woman in a meadow
Woman in a meadow

I see this question every week: what do you do for work and money that allows you to travel all the time?

 

I am a weekend warrior. I have a full-time Monday to Friday 9 am to 6 pm job and freelance clients on the side, and I only have two weeks of paid vacation time per year. I am not a trust fund baby, my parents don’t pay my bills, and I don’t have a husband taking care of me either.

 

I am a digital marketer and graphic designer. True I can work from anywhere in the world with just an internet connection, but I haven’t mastered being able to do that full time and still pay the bills yet. So just like everyone else, I have a standard in office full time job helping brands with their Facebook Ads, SEO and such, and I make time once or twice per month to get outdoors.

 

Some people are fortunate enough to live right by the mountains, and although the Central Coast in California has some beautiful views, it’s not what calls to me (I do love living here though). The mountains that do call are at least a four-hour drive away from home. But it’s ok! Because I’ve driven up the 101 to the 405 to the 5 to the 14 to the 395 (SoCal you know what I’m talking about) enough times that the drive doesn’t even seem long anymore.

 

I have a 395 (see what I did there) playlist and I mix it up with podcasts. If I’m going solo, I pass the time when I’m getting out of LA in traffic by calling my grandma, siblings, friends, and other loved ones. On the sections where I run out of cell reception and I’ve worn myself out on music and podcasts, I’ll use the time to clear my head and think about what’s bothering me in my day-to-day and come up with solutions. The drive is almost as therapeutic as actually being in the mountains.

 

I leave after work on Friday and usually arrive at camp or the hotel between 11 pm to 2 am (depending on traffic and how much I dilly dally before actually getting on the road). Then I spend all of Saturday and Sunday making the most out of my time, and then I leave around 4 pm on Sunday to be home by 10 pm, bring everything inside from my car, shower, go to bed, and head to work Monday morning.

 

I love the mountains, it’s the one place that challenges me both mentally and physically, kicks my butt and keeps me coming back for more, stronger than the time before. I will move mountains to keep going back.

 

Occasionally I’ll ask for a Friday or Monday off, but I try to keep those to a minimum because I want to save all my PTO for the longer trips. In 2018, I took a week off to hike the High Sierra Trail. It was amazing! If I don’t have enough PTO and need to go unpaid a day here or there, that’s fine.

 

I started by just going a few times per season. In 2017 I made the goal of going to the Sierra Nevada’s once per month. I made it 6 months in the summer and then dropped off in the winter. I made the same goal in 2018 and only didn’t go in February and October. But summer 2018, I also started going twice per month. There were (and still are) so many trails that I wanted to cover, so much I wanted to see and I was having FOMO.

 

At first, that was hard, I was exhausted coming back on Monday and wanted to just stay at home and sleep instead of sitting in meetings. But I hustled because that’s what I do. A few months later, I adapted. Twice a month doesn’t feel like that big of a deal anymore, if I want to come back early from the weekend I do, if I want to go three times, I go.

 

It’s a lifestyle and if this is something that you want to do, move mountains and make it happen. You don’t need to quit your job (unless you want to).

 

Have your cake and eat it too. Be a weekend warrior.

Comments:

  • Jen

    March 7, 2019

    I love that you’re a weekend warrior! I too have a 9-5 job and I definitely don’t use my weekends to the fullest. But if you can do it then so can I, so thanks for the inspiration.

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  • Vanessa C

    March 14, 2019

    I resonate with this post soooo much! I am also a graphic designer in marketing and absolutely love love the outdoors. Working 8 to 5 and still taking calls with our over seas offices after hours. I find myself lost because the things I cherish and love the most feel like a worlds away. I feel like im 100% in your boat.

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  • Mi Hoang

    March 14, 2019

    I always have this grand idea that I can take off, go for a long drive then wander in the wood, sleep in a tent then come back and redo it again the next time I can get away. I don’t have any responsibility and I can easily get away, but I can’t seem to get away for fear of being alone out there. Do you bring someone with you for the hikes or weekend trips? Can I join you?

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  • March 14, 2019

    Do you camp at these places? Do you do these trips solo? Do you have any safety tips for someone considering doing both? I used to live in the PNW and would take day trips to the coast or mountains every weekend, either by myself or with my then boyfriend. Now I’m single and living in the midwest and it’s several hours to anywhere really worth hiking (in my opinion). I miss the challenge and escape you talk about and need to start doing something about it!

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    • Jenny Kotlyar

      March 22, 2019

      Hi Sheri! I do camp often, it just depends on where I’m going and the season. In winter, I get hotels. I travel both solo and with others, just depends on where I’m going and if I want company. 🙂 Hiking solo has been an incredibly empowering experience. I wrote a blog post with my story on how I started and tips to help you get started. https://www.limitlesshiker.com/blog/tips-for-hiking-solo

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  • Lara

    March 15, 2019

    I want to hear more about how you prep pack and all that every weekend! every time I go camping or hiking that takes the most out of me and probably what tires me out the most too…the idea of packing and unpacking the car!

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  • Lara

    March 15, 2019

    You do exactly what I do with my weekends! It can be a 1 day trip or 2 day trip (I have the luxury of leaving work at 1:00 on Friday’s)…but no matter how long it is, I enjoy the solitude of the drive and the adventure to decompress from life (sometimes I might have someone join me).

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  • Sandy Dayton

    March 15, 2019

    I live or I guess work so that I can get to the mountains as often as possible. About 5 years ago, I realized that during the winter only going up to the Sierra for the day to snowshoe did not satisfy my need for the mountains and that’s when I began snow camping. It is a complete different beast but I LOVE it! I too take advantage of the 3 day weekends. One advantage I have also is I only camp at off-road spots so I never need to make a reservation and never camp near anyone. The mountains provide me my balance and sanity in life. Hike on my weekend warriors!!

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  • Monique

    March 15, 2019

    Nice post, great idea! I work fulltime in marketing and communication, a busy job, but have to pay my own bills to, no commitments 😉

    The last couple off years I took and still take courses during my weekends: Medic First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Bushcraft, Hike and Survival Instructor, Nature and Wildlife Guide, Wilderness Leader! Sometimes I take extra time off if exams are coming or I join a group as a co-guide.

    This weekend I am starting the course Wilderness Guide. (funny thing is there is no wilderness where I live and it is forbidden to go wildcamping) I have to go to Canada in September, there I have to take my exams!

    In the time left… I try to visite friends, 4 hour drive, who have properties that are big enough to get the “wildcampfeeling”.

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  • john goodwin

    March 16, 2019

    I feel “ In Love” with the great outdoors when I was a kid growing up along the Chesapeake Bay.

    As a young adult I worked my 1st Backcountry Trail season in the CCC, in 1990. I got hooked.
    After that I was fortunate enough to work 22 BC seasons in the Sierras, and one more in the Trinty Alps.

    We would get payed for 40 hrs a week, but work more like 60, with hauling water to camp, cross-cutting fire wood and bringing it back to camp.

    I’m still building trails but not quite as remote these days. I do often hike and backpack on my weekends. My family thinks I’m crazy. They say “ So you build trails for a living, then on you weekends you go hiking, isn’t that like going to work?” And I say, not at all.

    Find what you love to do and do it.

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  • Erika Contant

    March 16, 2019

    I would so love to join on a weekend sometime! I’m in school, have Friday off, and am seeking like minded women who are up for weekend trips! I’m not a young buck, have done solo hikes and packs, but would love some partners in crime! Do you only go alone, or do you welcome friends?

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  • Elizabeth Fabio

    March 21, 2019

    I enjoyed reading through your article and makes me feel at ease that other people are working that 9-5 life while balancing their hunger for adventure. Before your article I felt like it’s "all or nothing" with the outdoors while I manage to teeter in between feeling like I should be doing more. I’m on the same boat where at least once a month I drive out to the desert (e.g Joshua Tree or Death Valley) or the mountains (e.g. Eastern Sierras). It’s a delicate balance but I get enough needed and I fill the rest of my weekend around locally by the beach (in San Diego).

    Luckily my new work schedule allows me to have every other Friday off but work a more in the weekdays!

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