I have been getting emails from readers recently asking how they can make travel a priority in their lives, while still maintaining their current lives back at home balancing bills/responsibilities/jobs/fill in the blank.
Most ask if it is even possible.
The answer? A resounding yes. It can absolutely be done with some careful planning, no matter how busy your life may seem.
Here are a few tips on how to travel when you work full time.
Acknowledge your fears. For the longest time, I was afraid to travel by myself. What if I got lost or hurt while I was alone? What if, what if…Then I realized it was now or never and I booked a flight to Krakow as my jumping off point to travel through Poland for two weeks. My dad’s side of the family is Polish and an insane curiosity had developed over the recent years about where my ancestors had come from, not to mention I would get to eat Polish food for two weeks straight.
Looking back I’m glad I took that leap and realize that not only do I have more trust in myself from that trip, but it also renewed my faith in strangers and their wiliness to help me out when I need it.
One of the biggest mental obstacles when planning a trip is any lingering doubts that might exist. It is crucial to minimize these and plan a trip that will not leave you anxious and feeling way out of your comfort zone.
If you have never traveled before, start with baby steps, go to a country that speaks a language that you can understand. Likewise if you want to travel solo, but dread doing it in a foreign country, try a weekend trip closer to home.
Find a motivational factor to hit the road. Back when I lived in Boston, I wanted to visit Washington D.C. to see the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and finally having a window of time I bought an overnight bus ticket (not recommended if you want good sleep or any sleep at all for that matter). In retrospect, it was extremely fulfilling not only because I got to finally visit the museum, but that I followed through with a specific travel goal.
Telling yourself that one day you would like to travel to Country X just because isn’t the best way to guaranteed that it will happen. Turn a vague statement into a concrete goal and then work on a way to make it come true.
Spain might appeal to you because you have always wanted an excuse to brush-up on your Spanish or you might have been inspired by an Anthony Bourdain episode on Hong Kong and now want to experience all the deliciousness for yourself (yes, I might be speaking from personal experience).
Define what type of travel will fit into your schedule. During graduate school, I planned a weeklong trip during Spring Break through Germany and Poland with my boyfriend. It included severalsnowstorms, sickness and a sleepless night. Looking back we could have definitely planned a bit better, but hey you live and you learn right?
If you work full-time, squeezing in a muli-country Euro trip is not ideal. Instead focus on the time that you do have (weekends, holidays, vacation) and maximize this time. It might mean that you need to plan trips closer to home, but the important thing is to find a way to get on the road.
For an excellent article on maximizing your vacation time and weekends, this article from C’est Christine is worth a read.
Make concrete plans. After traveling all these years, I still am hesitant to buy airplane tickets and usually end up buying them a month or a few weeks prior to departure. I’m not sure why, but this procrastination travel habit has been one of the hardest to break. Ironically planning the logistics (except the flight) is something I thrive on, months ahead of the trip.
Planning far into the future, even for smaller trips can create excitement months ahead of the actual departure date and will be harder to bail on than a last-minute trip.
For this post, I focused strictly on planning and getting into the right mindset for part-time travel, but purposely avoided talking about financial strategies, since I plan to discuss them in another post coming soon. Stay tuned!
Do you believe it’s possible to work full-time and travel often?