A lot of people think that global travel is only an option for the rich, single and unemployed (or lucratively self-employed). But that, my friends, is a myth. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to quit your job to fit travel into your life. It just takes some strategic planning, discipline and patience.
Don’t Waste Your Time
This one is the most important. DO NOT, under any circumstances, waste the paid time off given to your by your employer. Have the sniffles? SUCK IT UP AND GO TO WORK. I would much rather go to work and suffer through three days of a nasty cold if it meant I could spend three days abroad, happy and healthy. Definitely worth the trade off. So unless you’re extremely ill or incapacitated… Don’t waste your time off. Save it and use it only for travel and emergencies.
Negotiate Vacation, Not Salary
This isn’t one that occurs to most people. When taking a new position at a company, or during an annual review, ask for extra vacation instead of a raise. What’s the worst that happens? They offer you an extra three days instead of five? Take it! They tell you no and you get the raise? Oh well, you tried! Employers sometimes find it easier to give approval for few extra vacation days than a substantial raise. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Make Use Of Work Holidays
Now, this one won’t be an option for everyone but it definitely shouldn’t be ruled out. A lot of big companies have “holiday breaks” that are considered separate from vacation and sick leave. For example, Boeing offers their employees (typically) the week after Christmas as paid time off. This means it doesn’t count against their employee’s vacation or sick time. It’s like a free week of vacation every year. Does your company offer something like this? If so, use it to it’s full advantage. I always book an extra vacation over this time of year rather than opting to spend it at home. The day after Christmas I’m off to a new destination for the New Year. Then I can come back to work feeling refreshed and not quite so depressed that the holidays are over. This year I’m thinking Tokyo!
Use Your Time Strategically
This one is going to vary depending on how much time off you get from your respective employer. Most large companies offer about two weeks of vacation and one week of sick leave. What I try to do is this. I break up my vacation time into two trips. Five days for one trip and five days for another trip. But this is the kicker, I always plan these trips over a holiday weekend. This creates the potential of being a ten or eleven day vacation while only using FIVE vacation days. You just have to plan it right. I try to use my larger spans of time off for destinations that are further away (think 24 hours of flights/airports). I then split my sick leave up over three weekend trips (think less than ten hours of travel time total). Two four-day weekends and one three-day weekend that I will also try to pair up with a holiday to make it a four-day. This is just how I do it, but there are so many creative ways to use your time off so that you can get it’s full potential.
Take Advantage Of Long Weekends
I know I just mentioned this above, but I want to touch on it a little more. A lot of times I see people using a long weekend to maybe… drive to the coast. Or go to the next state over. And that’s great! But if you want – it has the potential to be so much more. Just in January I spent a four-day weekend in New Orleans and I had an amazing time. I caught a red eye from Seattle to New Orleans, woke up and was able to spend almost four WHOLE days exploring the city (and gearing up for Mardi Gras!). Don’t underestimate the power of a four-day or even three-day weekend. Ever tried to do Vegas in a weekend? Well, you won’t sleep much but you definitely will never forget it.
Make A Budget
So first, make a budget. Write down your paychecks and expense for each month. How much spending money does that leave you? Now, set up an automatic transfer for a part of that amount to go into a separate account every paycheck. I have money taken out of every paycheck that goes into a savings account that I only look at when I’m planning a trip. It’s gotten to the point that I’m so used to it coming out that I don’t notice it. When the time comes to plan a trip, I always have more than enough to cover the costs. Think of it like a bill. A responsibility you have to take care of every paycheck. Even if you can only spare $100 per paycheck. In five months that’s a little over 1k. And be honest, you didn’t even feel it. Every time I find myself with a lot of extra spending month (like say, when I paid off my car) I up the amount I put into my trip savings. It makes it easier to justify taking a trip when you don’t have to budget out large amount from your paycheck. .
BONUS: SEE ALSO SIX SUPER SIMPLE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL
This goes hand in hand with the budget. If you really want to travel. And I mean, REALLY, want to travel. Give up all the crap. All the extra stuff you don’t need – stop spending your hard earned cash on it. For me, this meant coffee, eating out with friends, going out drinking on the weekends, etc. I started making my daily coffee at home and I get about 20 cups of good coffee for what would only get me maybe two at a stand. I still go out and have fun, I just don’t spend all the money to do it. Riddle me this. Go through your bank statements for the last 30 days and add up all the money you’ve spent on mindless little purchases. This means coffee, fast food, cigarettes, knick knacks, etc. Now take that number and multiply it by 12. Does that number surprise you? When I did this myself I came up with $428 (this was a year ago, mind you) a month. That means in a year I could have saved FIVE GRAND in a year! For someone who travels cheap anyway, that’s like a small fortune. It’s definitely a struggle giving up all the little luxuries but it’s for the greater good!
Take Unpaid Holidays
Maybe your employer can’t offer you extra annual vacation, but what about unpaid leave? This is time that you would take off from work without pay to use as your own vacation time. I have done this twice before. I took two two-week unpaid trips and both of the employers were more than willing to work with me. It was just a matter of making sure I had my work done before I left and leaving detailed notes. This might be uncomfortable to ask at first, but a lot of employers are more than happy to work with you.