People frequently ask how I travel so much while working a 9-5 job. While it’s not easy, it can be done! You just need to prioritize travel and make the most out of your vacation days. Here are the rules Drew and I abide by as we plan our annual travel schedules:
Use all of your vacation days. I can’t tell you how many news articles I’ve read about people, particularly Americans, not using their vacation days. Are you guys crazy? Vacation days are free money–use them! Use every single day, no matter what. Drew and I usually plan out most of our travel at the beginning of the year. We typically take 2-3 long trips and then smaller trips in between. We usually set aside a handful of days just in case something pops up later in the year, but we always put them to use before the year ends.
Weekends and long weekends. People underestimate how much you can see and do in a new place over a weekend. While weekend trips don’t work for every destination, some of our favorite trips have been weekend trips–some of our highlights include Albuquerque, Washington D.C., and Houston. If two days isn’t enough, it’s easy to tack on a vacation day and make your weekend a little longer.
Travel around holidays. We have a rule in our household that we travel for every possible work holiday (e.g. MLK, Memorial Day, Labor Day.) This allows us to see and do more while using less vacation time. By using holidays, we were able to see Niagara Falls and Toronto over Memorial Day one year. Another example would be when we traveled to Ireland with my family and only needed to use 3 vacation days since we planned the trip over Thanksgiving week. By using holidays to supplement your travel time, you are able to stretch your vacation.
Frequent short trips. As I previously mentioned, we typically take 2-3 week-long or multi-week trips per year and then a few weekend or long weekend trips every month. I love having trips to daydream about during the work week, and I would rather have many trips throughout the year to look forward to. I find that traveling frequently and for shorter periods helps me keep my work/life balance.
Extend work trips. If you’re lucky enough to travel for work, often times you can extend your work trips and fly in earlier or fly out later to maximize your time at your destination. For instance, I had to travel to Berlin, Germany for work a few years ago. I was super excited because I had never been to Berlin, so I booked my flight to arrive a few days before our meetings started so that way I could really experience the city. One of the best parts about combining professional travel with personal travel is that the flight is paid for, so you only need to cover your extra hotel nights, meals, and personal activities.
Ultimately, by making travel a priority in your schedule and maximizing the vacation time allotted to you, you will be able to go as near or as far as you want. Have any questions or need help planning a trip? Give me a holler!