Traveling is becoming ever more popular these days, especially among younger generations fresh out of college or early in their careers. More and more often, I’m seeing my friends reprioritize their spending, opting for a trip to the Caribbean over a few pairs of shoes. If you’re reading this post, it’s probable that you share this desire to travel, even if it means sacrificing your spending on other things. You guys are my tribe and you are awesome!
Now that you know that travel is a priority in your life, you need to find the time to get out there and experience amazing things! But how? Those of us lucky enough to be employed full time can find ourselves in a frustrating situation. Our jobs provide us the predictable income to help make traveling more feasible, but that same job keeps us chained (yes, chained!) to our desks 40+ hours a week, 52 weeks a year. How are you supposed to get out there and see the world with only a few measly weeks of paid vacation each year? We’ve got places to go and things to see!
As fellow full-time workers, my husband Vince and I hear you and we feel your frustration. While we certainly appreciate our jobs and the lifestyle they help us afford, we often find that our travel goals are bigger than our jobs allow. We each get three weeks of paid vacation a year. This is definitely on the high side of spectrum – so I don’t want to sound ungrateful by any means! – but three weeks can still be limiting considering how much Vince and I love to travel together.
Despite our barriers on time off, Vince and I managed to have a successful year of traveling in 2015. We visited:
Salt Lake City,Newport Beach, Chicago (twice), Beaver Lake, AK, Boston, Iceland, Manhattan (KS), Manhattan (NYC), Eureka Springs, AK, Denver
I don’t share this list to brag; I share it to prove that you can achieve a ton of (realistic) travel goals with the time and money that is already in your arsenal. Here’s how we do it:
Maximize your paid vacation days.
Figure out how many paid days (or hours) of vacation you have for the year and treat it like a budget. If you’re dreaming about going on a major trip abroad, it’s probably not wise to also plan a huge ski trip the same year. Prioritize the trips you want to take throughout the year and dole out your vacation days accordingly. This’ll help make sure you have enough vacation days left for that late fall trip to wine country you’ve been saving up for!
(Note: If your paid vacation days and sick days come from the same “pool” like mine do, be sure to set aside at least a few of your precious vacation days for unexpected colds and illness!)
Budget for it!
After time, money is probably the biggest barrier I hear from people when they talk about wanting to travel more. In my opinion, this translates to a lack of travel-prioritizing, money-wise. No matter what your financial situation is, if you aren’t planning for a trip financially as much as you are on Pinterest, then you’re not really committed!
Part of the reason Vince and I have the opportunity to travel so much is because we aggressively budget for it. Each month we set aside a few hundred dollars of our budget exclusively for travel. This keeps traveling a priority for us (as if we needed another reason!) and it helps us better afford this expensive hobby.
Bring your friends!
Traveling as a couple – or even solo – is a lot of fun. But you know what can be even more fun? Traveling with friends! What better way to see a new place than with your best buds? Not only are you getting to travel, but you’re also getting to spend time with good friends. Chances are these shared experiences will bring you closer together. Plus, your traveling companions might have different ideas on what sights, tours, etc. they want to see. Embrace these differences as an opportunity to experience things that you wouldn’t normally consider!
What’s better than sharing travel experiences with friends? Sharing travel expenses! When we travel with our friends we almost always stay together in a multi-bedroom apartment or house. (Thank you, Airbnb!) This makes our sleeping situation way cheaper for everyone. And sometimes we even get to cook together at our rental, which makes our food budget less expensive as well!
(Note: Before deciding to travel with friends, it’s best to make sure the entire group would travel well. Be sure to discuss things like budget, sightseeing preferences, preferred pace, etc. to see if the group’s travel styles will gel well on the trip. Trust us, this step can make a world of difference!)
Sometimes you just can’t get away. And that’s ok! Redefine what it means to take a vacation and stay in! Sometimes, when Vince and I really need a break from our hectic lives, we’ll schedule a “lost weekend”. These are weekends where we completely clear our calendars of any outside obligations and spend the weekend enjoying a completely free schedule. Sometimes we’ll stay in our apartment for the whole weekend, watching movies, reading, playing games, or cooking time-consuming meals. Other times we’ll make an extra effort to visit restaurants and sights here in Kansas City that we don’t often get to see. It’s a vacation in every sense of the word, except the “getting away” part!
Embrace the long weekend.
Whether you’re away for a few days or a few weeks, going on vacation is reenergizing! So, if you can reenergize yourself in just a few days, why not embrace the long weekend? Not only will you have less to plan for your mini trip, but you can go on more smaller trips throughout the year! In the vacation time you would spend on a long international trip, you could get away for five long weekends! There’s no better way to reenergize throughout the year than by taking lots and lots of mini vacations.
Get creative with your holidays.
It’s a no-brainer to want to travel during holiday vacations. You’ve already got one day off of work, so why not tack on a few more? Often, like in the case of Memorial Day or Labor Day, you have to travel back home on the actual holiday. I say, why? Plan your trip so the holiday is in the middle of your vacation! Not only will you avoid traveling back home on the actual holiday, but you’ll probably save money! Flights and hotels are a lot more expensive right around holidays, so if you plan to travel on non-peak days you’ll probably save money (that you’ll of course want to put towards more trips in the future 😉 ).
Don’t embrace the long weekend!
(Yes, this is contradictory to our previous tip.)
When we can, we plan our long trips to start and end on a Wednesday or Thursday. This works out great in a lot of ways: First, we save money by not flying on a peak travel day. Second, we spend more time in the office before and after our trip. That sounds like the opposite of a vacation, but hear me out! If we are in the office a few days before our trip, and a few days after our trip, not only have we just created two short work weeks around our vacation, but this also gives us a chance to stay more organized at work so we’re less stressed about our office to-dos while on our trip! Seriously, try this sometime and see how awesome it is.
Hopefully you can see how completely possible it is to balance a full-time job and a large appetite for travel. If you spend a bit of extra time in the planning phase of your trips, you really can maximize your time away from the office and create some wonderful and relaxing vacations across the year. Now get out there and see the world!