How to Hike and Travel Around a 9 to 5 Job

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 the boyfriend’s mom. 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.