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How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time

A full-time job shouldn’t stop you from satisfying your wanderlust. The Local spoke to Travel After 5 blogger Alline Waldhem to find out her tips and tricks for travellers who only have 25 days of annual leave.

How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time
Photo: Alline in Lisbon, Portugal

Feel like your day job is thwarting your travel plans? Keep telling yourself you don’t have the time (or cash) to take a trip? Where there’s a will, there’s a way, says travel aficionado Alline Waldhelm.

“It’s really a mindset. I love to do it and, on average, I travel somewhere once a month. In the summer, I fly every single weekend.”

Alline, who is originally from Brazil, caught the travel bug when she first visited Germany 12 years ago. It’s a trip that changed her life; she resolved to live in Europe one day and sure enough returned several years later to study in Munich before settling in Vienna.

“I always really liked traveling to Europe. When I was living in Brazil, I managed to come four times before moving to Munich to study German,” she tells The Local.

Click here to discover more #LifeChangingPlaces

Photo: Alline in Budapest last year

Although she works full time as a financial analyst, Alline doesn’t let her job get in the way of her adventures. In Austria, she explains, overtime is discouraged so it gives her plenty of time and the flexibility to take a flight on a Friday evening and return on the Sunday night.

“It’s actually really manageable,” she says. “For me, it’s so important to have these breaks. Of course, you don’t disconnect from your life in two or three days but that’s not the point. There’s so much to explore; you might be physically tired but it’s a mental break and you go back to the office on Monday with a lighter mood.”

While she reserves the bulk of her annual leave for travelling back to Brazil, she still takes a couple of weeks over summer to plan a longer trip. This year, she’s heading to Costa Smeralda in Sardinia – “The beaches are unbelievable and I want to explore more parts of the La Maddalena archipelago” – before spending a week in the south of Portugal which she describes as “full of history and culture, welcoming people and delicious food.”

Photo: Alline in Sicily during summer 2018

Where to find travel inspiration

When looking for new places to travel, Alline often turns to her most trusted resource: her friends and ex-classmates who are scattered across Europe. Or, if there’s a specific city or country that she is keen to visit, she’ll follow news sites like The Local or Time Out to keep up with local events. She’s also an active member of Facebook groups like European Travellers #WhereToNext? that are dedicated to travel tips and inspiration.

Join The Local and Lufthansa’s Facebook group for travel tips and inspiration

When Alline is feeling really adventurous she’ll use a feature like Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search to find the best deals on cheap flights. It’s how she stumbled on a great return flight to Larnaca, a pretty port city in southern Cyprus, last Christmas. Often, she starts with the destination, whether it’s a recommendation or her own find, and then pads out the trip once she’s booked.

She believes it’s still possible to ‘get off the beaten track’ even if you only have a couple of days to explore. In her experience, the best way to do this is to not plan too rigidly. Instead, pick a couple of things you really want to see or do and then play the rest of the trip by ear.

Photo: Alline in Lake Garda

“I try to be spontaneous. I really enjoy arriving in a city and just walking around and seeing what people are doing. I don’t plan every minute because usually you can meet someone and they suggest something to do. Leaving your time open means you may run into something more interesting or discover something different along the way.”

Find out how to discover your own life-changing place

The best advice she can offer full-time workers who are keen to travel more is to think logistically when booking flights and hotels. For short weekend trips, Alline mostly sticks to Europe and limits flight time to under a couple of hours so that the journey itself doesn’t eat too much into her precious exploring time.

The same goes once she’s touched down at her destination.

“Take London, for example, there are five airports and some of them it takes hours to get from the airport to the city centre. So I always find the airport that is closest. If it’s a small saving but it means I I lose an hour getting to the hotel, that’s something I won’t do.”

Alline adds that although you may be able to find a nicer hotel further out of the city “it’s not doable” when you only have a couple of days. Instead, she advises staying somewhere that may not be as plush but is more conveniently located. This way, you won’t “lose time, which is very precious on a short trip”.

Finally, she says: “Always be half ready to travel”. Alline always keeps a bag packed with the essentials like her passport, camera and tripod. This way, it only takes half an hour to pack so she can set off at short notice.

“If you have these things in your suitcase, you won’t forget anything. Everything is in the same place, half the work is already done.”

Alline’s top travel tips

  • Keep a bag packed with all your travel essentials

  • Check flight comparison sites to find new destinations 

  • Ask friends who live locally for insider tips

  • Look to Facebook groups and local news outlets for inspiration

  • If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, take a ‘bridging day’ to turn it into a four-day weekend

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Lufthansa.

TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: The train services in Switzerland most likely to be delayed

Though Switzerland’s trains are known for their reliable punctuality, this reputation may not always be justified, a new study shows.

REVEALED: The train services in Switzerland most likely to be delayed

The Swiss like to think that their trains are running as smoothly as their famous watches.

However, it turns out that not all the trains crisscrossing Switzerland’s wide and dense railway network arrive and depart on time.

This is the finding of a major study by CH Media group, which analysed all train traffic over the last year to see how it performed time-wise. 

While the largest company, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), has a punctuality rate of around 92 percent — among the best in Europe — other transport providers don’t always keep up with this standard, the analysis revealed. 

The top offender — which probably doesn’t come as a surprise to the Swiss, who consider everything foreign as inferior — is the German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB).

As a matter of fact, in 2019, an expansion of the DB lines into Switzerland met with some objections because the Swiss were concerned those tardy Germans would mess up their intricate transport system.  

And they were right.

As the study shows, DB’s regional RE7 line is most prone to delays.

It leaves Karlsruhe at 2:39 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Basel’s Badischer Bahnhof at 5:22 p.m. However, in almost 85 percent of the cases, it was more than 11 minutes late.

While 11 minutes may not seem like much of a delay, it sets off the domino effect of subsequent departures / arrivals being late as well. The RE7 has the worst record, as it appears three times in the top-10 list of punctuality offenders.

DB trains are notoriously late arriving in Switzerland. Photo by Daniel Abadia on Unsplash

In fact, according to the analysis, trains that arrive in Switzerland from abroad have the worst track record — no pun intended.

For instance, the second-worst in terms of delays is SBB’s EC196, which runs from Munich, via Austria, either to St. Margarethen in canton St. Gallen or to Zurich. In 2022, it arrived 12 minutes late more than 84 times out of 100, and 20 minutes late 75 percent of time.

Here too, the Swiss put the blame on their German neighbours.

Though this train is operated by SBB, “the infrastructure in Germany with a long single-track line and train crossings in the Allgäu [a mountainous region in Bavaria] makes operations very demanding,” according to company spokesperson Sabrina Schellenberg.

Another line that is on the list of least punctual trains 83.5 percent of the time is Rhaetian Railway’s (RhB) PE955 line, which runs from Chur in Graubünden to Tirano in Italy.

This train, called the Bernina Express (the Express part could be a misnomer here), travels through a spectacular Alpine scenery, so commuters may not even notice they arrive at their destination late.

You can see the entire list of 100 least punctual trains in Switzerland here

How does the SBB try to avoid chronic delays?

The answer depends on what causes the delays in the first place.

The infrastructure problems in foreign countries (as mentioned above) are obviously beyond SBB’s control.

However, Tobias Imobersteg of the Swiss Railvolution Association said that as it is well known that the trains in Germany are prone to delays, “the Federal Office of Transport should design the timetable accordingly.”

Generally speaking, in order to reduce tardiness, SBB focuses on better distributing its planned construction sites and, subsequently, speed restrictions.

The company is also looking into adapting travel times.

“One of the main reasons [for delays] is that driving and stopping times no longer match reality,” said David Fattebert, head of the SBB’s Punctuality Programme (yes, there really is such a position at SBB).

“The timetable must be designed in such a way that there are certain buffers in the rail system”, he added.

READ MORE: Why Swiss trains are less punctual — and what is being done about it

 

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