Discover the world despite a full-time job - An interview with Marvin from Part-Time Passenger
For many people, traveling is the best way to take a break from everyday life and relax. However, for many of us working full-time, vacation is usually limited to only 20-30 days per year. That is not much time to explore the world – or is it? Today, we introduce you to Marvin from Part-Time Passenger. Find out more about how he travels the world despite having a full-time job and how he makes the most of his limited vacation time.
Hi Marvin, who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
Hello everybody! I’m Marvin, a German travel blogger based in Berlin and fueled by both a passion for travel and all things international and intercultural affairs. I moved here for the job and I appreciate the colorful and international atmosphere in our capital. My blog is my side project – my creative outlet, where I process my wanderlust and try to motivate people to travel and discover "part-time". My focus is on destinations near and far with a maximum travel duration of about 10 days. On my trips I always try to see and experience as much as possible of a country or region. I am convinced that a multitude of new impressions can provide equally good relaxation as a 1-week beach vacation. This is the feeling I want to convey through my blog.
When did you discover your love for travelling and why do you like to travel?
Through a scholarship I was able to spend one year in the United States during high school, in the state of Oregon on the US west coast. I had never been so far or so long away from home before. And all these impressions throughout the year have definitely left their mark on me. It was incredibly exciting to see that whole other world out there. I was able to look beyond the famous horizon – and I still haven't had enough of it.
For me, traveling is not only leisure time fun. Wherever I go, I always find it exciting to learn more about the local conditions and the cultural background and, in doing so, to adopt the views of others. This sounds a bit stale, but you learn to see the world from different angles – and thus to understand it. Any exchange with local people, no matter how brief, can create mutual understanding. And that is perhaps the most beautiful (side) effect of travel.
What do you do for a living? Do you think that some jobs are better or worse suited to travel a lot?
I studied North American Studies (do you see a pattern?) and work here in Berlin for an NGO dedicated to promoting transatlantic relations. Especially today, I find this more important than ever.
Certainly, there are factors in some jobs that can make travel planning difficult. However, all of us here in Germany are in a privileged position – the average American has about 10-15 vacation days per year, in China it’s only 10 days, and with our nationwide average of 28-30 days, you can do quite a bit.
How many times a year do you go on vacation and how many new countries do you visit per year on average?
In a normal year (without a global pandemic) I try to plan 3-4 trips plus a few weekend getaways. Transferring unused vacation days to the next year is usually not an option.
How do you manage to travel so much despite having a full-time job?
I try to be as flexible as possible, combining vacations with public holidays and compensating overtime where it is convenient. I am also not afraid of flight connections that seem a bit stressful at first glance. Not few trips start with me taking my packed suitcase with me to the office on the day of departure. For example, if you hop on a plane in Berlin at 3:00 pm after half a day of working, you can make it to Manhattan just in time for dinner. Returning from Asia, you can take off on a Sunday morning and, thanks to the time difference, you'll be back in Berlin in the evening. One time, I even touched down on a Monday morning after a night flight from Montréal, Canada, and – after a quick stopover at home – rushed to the office.
Have you ever thought about quitting your job to be able to travel even more?
Such mind games always exist. I am very grateful that I have been able to explore so many different destinations over these past years. As refreshing as all these trips are, I am increasingly tempted to spend more time in a certain place in the future. For now, I am happy to be able to combine a stable home base with regular adventures in the world. But I cannot guarantee that it will always stay that way.
How do you plan your trips? Do you have any tips for our community?
Every trip planning starts with me sifting through numerous articles of other travel bloggers in order to establish a kind of priority list of a destination. How many days do I have available and how can I make the best use of them? It can take up to two weeks until I have sorted out the route, but doing that kind of research always gets up the excitement and you already learn a lot about the destination.
Basically, I try to set a flexible framework, especially for round trips, like last year in Sri Lanka. In that case, I booked the most important local accommodations and transfers in advance – but I never plan everything from A to Z. I also want to have the freedom to change partial routes and daily schedules. Whether I want to surf in the tropical beach town of Talalla on the south coast of Sri Lanka, explore temples or take the boat out to see the whales – that is something I decide on the spot.
In general, I find it important to approach my travel schedule and my expectations with a certain calmness. If you run out of time to see sight XY, the world won't end. Mt. Fuji has unfortunately also covered itself in clouds during my trip across Japan. That was a pity, but things like that cannot be planned. Traveling should not only be about checking off the top must-sees on a list, but also about engaging with the local circumstances. In any case, it is important to have a basic idea of your personal itinerary – especially if you're not on a 3-month backpacking trip but working with limited vacation days.
What were your favorite travel destinations so far and why?
That is a difficult question. First and foremost, I would have to say South Africa. The country is full of contrasts. From the townships around the economic center of Johannesburg, to the glittering metropolis of Cape Town, to the herds of elephants in Kruger National Park – rarely has a trip through a country been so thought-provoking and fascinating at the same time. I found Hong Kong at least as exciting, my first destination in Asia and a vibrant mix of Chinese and Western influences. This list would also not be complete without New York, a city I have fallen in love with and been to many times. Now that sounds as if I wouldn't even try my hand at European destinations. But that's not true. For instance, I very much enjoy traveling through Spain, Portugal or southern Italy – Sardinia is one of my favorites.
What general tips for traveling despite having a full-time job can you give our community?
Balancing a full-time job with an exciting travel life is a challenge, no question. Many of us juggle with limited vacation days. However, I find these times for distraction, relaxation, and inspiration to be extremely important. I try to see professional life as part of my everyday life, but not as a component that takes up all my energy. In 40 years, I don't know if will rather remember a small career leap or the moment when I stood on the Great Wall of China. That is why I try to combine both parts of my life in the best possible way. How and if I will continue to succeed, you will be able to follow ;-)
What are your travel plans and destinations for the future?
This year, of course, that is a particularly difficult question. If one would like to get at least one small positive side effect out of the current pandemic, it is the increased appreciation and awareness for travel destinations right on our doorstep. For instance, I dipped my toe in the Baltic Sea for the first time this summer (I know, shame on me!). Plus, over these last months, I got to know Berlin even better and wrote down my experiences in different neighborhood guides. Travelling is and remains a privilege – that I something I realized this year once again.
As far as the future is concerned, I have been eyeing a road trip across the US from New York to LA for quite some time now. Of course, I would have to take more time off for such a trip, but I'm positive I'll find a creative solution – when the time comes.
Check out his blog and learn more about Marvin and his trips.