Since I started working full time, I've become very strategic about finding time to travel because its important to me. Many people think I take off often and some people even think that I travel full time. I wish, but nope! I work 40 hours a week with a limited amount of vacation time just like most people. Even before I started working, my time off was limited because I was still in school. Although it would be great to be able to travel whenever and wherever, its just not feasible for most of us due to the obligations that we have.
Despite these limitations, there are many ways to maximize the available time off that you do have for travel. Studies have shown that employees are overall happier when they take vacations(DUH!) and have increased productivity when returning to work. You may not be able to spend weeks in a destination, but you will still be able to see amazing places and have some really great experiences.
1. Extend Your Weekends
This is a rule I'd never break. When choosing dates to travel, you should ALWAYS choose to travel over the weekend. Whether it be Thursday through Sunday or Wednesday through Monday, you are saving vacation days if you travel over the weekend. You essentially have 2 extra days of travel that you'd otherwise be using as vacation time if you traveled throughout the week.
i.e. Instead of traveling Monday through Friday and using 5 vacation days, you can travel Thursday through Tuesday and use only 3 vacation days. Instead of traveling Monday through Friday, try traveling Friday through the next Sunday - this gives you 10 vacation days opposed to 5 using the same amount of time off, because you included the weekend before and after.
2. Take Advantage of Holidays
Holidays provide an extra day of travel that you would otherwise have to use as a vacation day. It may not seem like it, but one day can make a difference. Sure, the crowds are larger on holiday breaks but you can often avoid crowds by starting your day earlier.
3. Utilize Flex or Work At Home Days
If you're one of the lucky ones who have the ability to work from home, you can take advantage of your flexible work arrangement. Most places have wi-fi and you can always visit a Starbucks to work during the day. You can use your free time when you get off in the evening to venture out, especially in the Spring and Summer when the days are longer. And of course, the time you have really adds up when you include weekends(See #1 again)!
4. Travel Shorter Distances
There are some places that I really want to visit, but at the moment it doesn't make sense to visit them because the duration and cost of the flight would only be worth it if I was able to stay for an extended period of time. Instead of a 19 hour flight to Thailand, I can take a 3.5 hour flight to Costa Rica or even a 6 hour flight to Brazil. Until you've accumulated a good amount of vacation time, it may be best to stick to closer locations where you'll get more value for your time and money.
5. Travel to More locations in less Time
I understand, the desire to really "get to know" a place but once again, most of us don't have weeks at a time to spend in one location. Instead of using a full week or 2 weeks of vacation on one trip and having to wait such a long time to travel again, use a few days here & there to visit some locations that don't require as much time spent there. It may not seem like it but a 3-5 day vacation(with weekends included, of course) is sometimes all you need. You'll get to take more breaks and you'll still get a chance to visit some awesome places.
6. Get Started Early
Not only does this help you beat large crowds, but it literally doubles the time off that you do have. If you are on vacation and you wake up at 7 or 8 am instead of 11am or 12 pm, you've added 4-5 hours of daylight back into to your day.
7. Take Advantage of Travel Opportunities at Work
If you work as a consultant or a company that allows you to travel for various events, you can really make use of the trip that you're taking. If you happen to have a Wednesday - Friday conference, you might be able to ask your manager if you can arrange your flight to leave on Sunday instead of Friday especially if it is at no additional cost to the company. You can then spend the weekend exploring at no additional cost using no additional days off. And even if you can't choose your flight days, you can spend your evenings exploring the city that you're in if you plan accordingly.
8. Be Wise About How You Use Your Vacation Days
Instead of taking a day off to spend watching Netflix, playing video games, or just because you feel like it, save that day off for a trip! If you have a doctor's appointment you can arrange it early in the morning and return to work or you can arrange it later in the day instead of taking that full day off. It may not seem like much, but you only have so much time off and each day adds up. Why use a day off doing things that could be done in the evenings or on the weekend?
If you're still in school, you're lucky because you probably won't need to use any of these seeing as how you kids get whole months off at a time. And yea, I am jealous! If you do have to work and/or take summer classes during those free months, you can still apply each of these and try your best to take advantage of study abroad!
You'll really maximize your time off when you learn to combine all of these tips at once. I never take a trip without using each them. These tips will to ensure that you are getting the most value out of your limited time off while still getting a chance to see the world. At the end of the day, you can spend your time off however you want. Its precious and you only get so much of it. However, if you want to travel and you're wondering how you can find the time to do it, you may want to start getting strategic about it!
How do you maximize your time off for more travel? And where are you headed next? Share in the comments below!
If you know someone who might need a vacation, share this post with them!