As I enter the end of my mid- twenties, I’ve found that finding the elusive work – travel – life balance is just that, elusive. When I started my career in travel roughly three years ago, I never would have thought that I needed to worry about finding a balance between being on the road, vacationing for pleasure and spending time at home.
As my business travel has continued to pick up, I’ve found my desire to take small weekend trips has steadily decreased and I’ve spent more time at home and at my family’s lake house.
Unwinding at Home
Because my job requires me to be involved in the local community, I find myself out and about in Milwaukee all the time. I’ve really tried to dial back the press events and after work activities that I used to love. After six months of trying, I am finally getting better about saying “no”. (Shonda Rhimes has Year of Yes – 2016 is my year of no.)
I used to get all excited about new restaurant openings and media events, but I now try to experience the city on my own terms during relaxed days out with friends. I actively work to build in more time for the gym. (2016 has also been the year of the 10-pound weight gain.)
I try to look at my calendar the month before and plan out my work travel, personal vacation and time at home. I strive to find three nights a week I can hit my local crossfit gym and then I plan on seeing my friends at least twice during a weekly kickball and volleyball game.
I’ve found that saying no to going out has actually helped me prioritize myself and it’s finally starting to pay off with better health and definitely more sleep.
Finding an Escape
After traveling and working all summer, I’m constantly on the hunt for an escape. I’m so lucky to have a family cottage that I’ve made mine. Going up North gives me the illusion of traveling with all of the comforts of home.
Finding someplace to escape but also explore has made all of the difference. Each time I go up I treat it like a mini adventure. I do something new, take on a new hobby and read books, which has never felt more like a luxury.
I’ve realized I can still find balance while traveling if I create the illusion that I am doing things in a routine. I plan smaller trips where I can cook, work out, explore new restaurants and spend time with family and friends. Consistently going to the same location also takes the pressure off having to see and do everything. I can be more selective in my activities and if I need a weekend at home, I can take a weekend at home.
Planning for the Big Ones
Finally, the best way I’ve kept my wanderlust a bay while prioritizing my time at home is planning for the big vacations. I always have a couple of non-work related trips on the horizon. I try to plan one large trip a year and several long weekends to get me through the summer.
As soon as I start to burn out because of business travel, I remember that there’s something coming up. Two years ago I built a bucket list of trips. These are trips that I can only afford to do once a year. The list is flexible and can be done solo or with a group. My list includes some more challenging trips, like trekking at Machu Picchu, and local trips, like a 10-day camping excursion through the Pacific Northwest.
I watch flight and travel prices and I hop on the first deal that comes up for trips that are on my bucket list. These trips also help me to properly space out and make the most of my vacation days. Because you can’t have a travel/work/life balance if you never find a way to travel.
Katy is the blogger behind Windward Traveler. She frequently finds herself providing updates from the road as a busy communications professional in the travel industry. Her specialties range from having the worst travel luck to finding the best brunch spots and dive bars – it just depends on the day. You can follow along on the next adventure here.