Erin Doherty, CC Contributor, had planned the trip of a lifetime but landed her dream job just months before she was set to leave.

After I graduated from college in 2011, I had no idea what career path to take. Many different ideas went through my head, such as going to law school or becoming a journalist. However, I never had an actual plan.

I was petrified about finding a job, but if I’m being transparent, all I really wanted to do was travel. And not just any kind of traveling—I wanted to backpack across Europe. This aspiration led me to consider the bigger picture of taking a year off work to travel, starting with the initial step to take a month off.

I had always wanted to travel outside of the United States and finally took the plunge after I graduated. It hadn’t been easy putting a trip together—money and time were both in short supply—but I was determined to make it happen.

After postponing my adult life for a bit, I decided to go on an adventure- one that would be inspired by other globe-trotters’ stories. I followed many travel bloggers (shout out to Alex in Wanderland, Curiosity Travels and the Young Adventuress) and read several books (Delaying the Real World and The Lost Girls). Constantly researching potential places led me to make a list of everywhere I wanted explore. And once I found someone who was enthusiastic about joining me, we booked our tickets immediately.

We planned to depart for Paris in nine months.

1. An Unexpected Offer

I can’t say the timing of my trip was ideal. I didn’t have a steady job and had been working retail since high school. After college, I realized that I needed to make a change if I wanted to do something different with my life. So, I got a temp job and started planning my trip to take a month off work.

I’d heard great things about the company beforehand, but it turns out that the temp job was anything but good. In fact, it was horrible—and not in the way where you have to work long hours for little pay. The atmosphere was verbally abusive and racist/misogynistic, which made me very uncomfortable. I’ve never been one to give up easily—as evidenced by my previous veteran status at a retail establishment—but this environment was too much for me to handle. So this is a lesson for all of you career women out there: there’s a difference between paying your dues and knowing your limits. Don’t let anyone put you down or make you feel less than what you are worth.

A few months before I was supposed to leave on my trip, the company I had interviewed with a few months prior called me back and offered me a position as a content writer. Although I hadn’t been the best candidate for the original position, this new job opportunity was perfect for me. It was at a marketing firm, but there was still one caveat–I had already booked six weeks off (way more than the average American worker gets) for my trip.

I was conflicted. I assumed I couldn’t take the job at first.

“I couldn’t believe it,” I thought. “Who would hire someone and then give them a six-week vacation?”

Will my new coworkers think I’m strange? How would they react to me?

I was stuck: take the job and miss my trip, or go on the trip and forgo the job. But when would I get another chance at either of those?

2. Ask For What You Want

I couldn’t bear missing out on either the job or my pre-planned trip, so I took a chance and asked if I could have both. Surprisingly, not only did the hiring manager agree to my request, but even the CEO said it was okay.

After landing my dream job, I decided to celebrate by going on a trip to Europe with two of my best friends from college. We each packed one backpack full of clothes and essentials, then caught a flight to Paris with the intention of making our way to Amsterdam. In the following weeks we travelled through France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria – all before finally arriving in the Netherlands. We ended up having an incredible time and journeyed home feeling exhausted but grateful.

I was overjoyed to return to my job after such an amazing trip.

The trip was when I first understood how crucial it is to request what you want. Also, I discovered that many individuals, myself included, often refrain from doing so because of fear or other negative emotions. Fortunately, my bosses were great people–although this might not be the case for everyone in similar situations. Before and after the trip, I worked diligently to become a key asset to my company.

This simple lesson – asking for what you want – has proven helpful to me again and again, whether I was requesting a pay raise, addressing an uncomfortable issue at work, or going for a promotion. It may be trite but it’s accurate: the worst possible response you can receive is “no.” And furthermore, if you’re an excellent employee with useful skills (which I know all of you are), they’ll be less likely to say that than otherwise.

3. You Can’t Have It All, You Can Have What You Want

The “work hard, play hard” mentality is overrated. Instead of blindly grinding away day after day, you should identify what you want out of life, and then work towards it in a diligent yet attainable way. Furthermore, once you have achieved your goals, don’t be afraid to ask for more – you deserve it!

If you want something, go out and get it! Whether it’s a promotion at work or a complete career change, don’t let anything stand in your way. If daily choices and focused effort don’t seem like they’re doing much, remember that even the smallest steps forward progress. Any obstacle can be overcome with time and perseverance— so keep going until you achieve the personal and professional life that you desire.

It’s tough to go against the grain and ask for what you want, whether that be a job, raise or time off. Society tells us we should just be grateful for what we have. But when you take confidence and combine it with a great performance, asking for more doesn’t have to come across as rude or disrespectful. You’ve earned it through your dedication and work ethic. This is exactly what I kept in mind when figuring out how to take a month off work.

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