Even when you work you can still be a traveller
When you, like me, enjoy travelling so much that it consumes your every waking minute then you may be familiar with the pain of not having enough time to see all the places that you want to see. There are many travel bloggers out there that live the lifestyle of eternal travel while earning an acceptable income on the road. But I think you will agree that this way of life is not for everyone. Most of us will not want to reduce their personal effects to just one backpack, give away the family pet, take the kids out of school, and remove themselves from friends and family indefinitely.
Yet, you still want to travel the world, see new places, collect unforgettable moments, learn more about other cultures, eat new foods. All of this is possible, of course, in particular if you worked hard and are lucky enough to earn a good income that will allow you to put some money aside for this special time of year.
I am absolutely in the position that I cannot travel the world full-time. I am bound to my family, restrained by annual leaves, living in a place that is so remote it takes ages to get anywhere exciting. But this doesn’t stop me at all from discovering new places and making new experiences all the time. In fact, in the last two years I have been to eleven different countries, most of these together with my family and not in my official capacity as a travel writer.
So how do I do it?
Identify times when it is possible for you to take time out
First of all, you have to believe that you can actually travel wherever you want within the time that you are given. Make a plan for the year and check for possible slots where it might be possible to leave work for more than a day or two. Do these dates coincide with useful long weekends, or can you split your annual leave over several periods to allow you a couple of shorter trips throughout the year?
Are there working days sandwiched between a public holiday and a weekend that you can take off? Yes, I know, a booking on a long weekend will probably cost more than a booking at times when nobody else is looking to go away, but think about how much fun and relaxation you might be able to buy with your money. And here’s a tip: the earlier you identify those favourable times and make a booking, the less you will spend on your trip, as last-minute desirable time slots tend to rise in cost rather than get cheaper.
There might even be the option to take unpaid leave, or to “buy” annual leave. If this allows you to do what you really want, rather than wasting your time behind a desk, then consider this a worthwhile option.
Every trip counts
I strongly believe that every trip is worthwhile, even when your travel time doesn’t seem to justify the short time in the location. Would you rather stay at home and not go away at all, or would you want to experience a new culture, feel alive and create ever lasting memories?
Living in Sydney, I have no regrets about hopping on a plane for a long weekend get-away to Fiji. After all, it is only a short flight, and even though you might say, hang on, the cost of the airfare is exceedingly high for just a weekend away! I will counter-argue that I can choose to take the money with me to my grave or I can choose to buying myself a good time with tropical cocktails under shooting stars.
In fact, money is your saving grace in the equation. Many people have no qualms spending money on daily takeaway lunches and expensive coffees, yet they fail to see the value in spending money on experiences that they can cherish forever. Maybe it is the quick fix that is more compelling for many people, but come to think of it, when you save up your money for bigger means to satisfy your thirst for life, you might get the better deal in the end. If you are working full-time, maybe even supporting a family, chances are that you do have the incoming funds to make smarter decisions about travelling.
Money that you don’t spend won’t buy you happiness
Think for example about hotels. Advertising suggests to us that all we want to do is save, save, save when it comes to booking hotel accommodation. But this is not necessarily what you should want to set as your highest priority. If you have not a lot of time you would want to eliminate all factors that take away your precious time.
Book a hotel that is in a central location and do enjoy the view of the duomo when you wake up in the morning. Invest in a spa room and enjoy the added luxury after a day out and about in the streets of Paris. Don’t waste your time looking for cheap eats in the area but spend some extra money on a recommended restaurant close-by. Check online for reviews and go with the best rated option in your area rather than the cheapest option. It’s all about making the right decisions for your particular situation, and you must not think that money is only valuable when you don’t spend it.
Time vs Money: Making smart decisions
The same goes for transport options. Yes, there might be a cheaper flight that allows you to save quite a fair bit of money, but do you really have the time to spare for a layover in a destination that you have no interest in seeing? When you live in Australia like me, you can travel to Europe via China or via the United Arab Emirates. The first option will take more time but saves you money, the second will be the quickest connection possible but may cost a bit more. Which one would you choose?
When at your destination, make clever choices about what you want to do and how. If you want to see busy attractions, see if you can book your tickets online to avoid the queues. Rather than reading all the descriptions on signs around an important or historic attraction, take photos of the explanations and read these on your way home or when you are in bed. In fact, take lots and lots of photos to capture not just yourself in front of a famous landmark but also to remember the details of a location, the food, the people, the amazing views and the broken windowsills.
A sneaky staycation is making the most of your limited time
Even when you cannot take the plane for a super exciting trip in another country, rethink how you tend to spend your weekends. Explore popular day-trip destinations in your area, stay overnight, or at least explore a nearby region. Take trips to surrounding cities, or explore your own city in more detail. Do you really know all the museums in your hometown, have you really tried all the latest restaurants, can you really explain the history of the place where you live?
Remember, your life is not a rehearsal
Do not make compromises when you travel. You work hard all year round and this is the time to spoil yourself. You don’t want any time wasters, any delays, any risks. All you want is to fully enjoy your time away from the office, have fun with the kids, pamper your partner, collect unforgettable memories.
Don’t forget to slow down once you have arrived. Remember that this is the only life that you got and you deserve to enjoy every minute of it. Don’t think you cannot travel just because you are working full-time or because you have kids. You can do everything you like if you just set your mind to it.