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You see it everywhere online: “Quit your job and travel the world!” For those with a case of wanderlust, like myself, it’s the ultimate dream. Who wouldn’t want to be exploring a new culture and city every day? The adventure! The excitement! However, this can’t be reality for everyone and for some, may not even be what you want.
In North America, typically most jobs come with 10 days of vacation. 15 if you’re lucky. That’s not a lot of time to explore the world. However, if you’re really determined to see the world, you can. You just need to make some slight adjustments in your lifestyle and the way you travel and see the world.
This year, even with a full time job, I’ve managed to travel to Toronto, various cities in Spain, a number of cities and towns within driving distance, Winnipeg and later this year, I’ll be heading to Indonesia. So yes, it very much is possible to travel the world even if you have a full time job. Here is how I make it happen:
Make travel a priority
If you want to see more of the world, make sure traveling is a priority. Look for opportunities where you can travel where you might not otherwise. If your job is sending you somewhere on business, see if you can stay a couple days after to explore the city. Or if you’re in a stage of your life, like I am, where friends are getting married in different destinations, since you’re going anyways, try to go early or stay a couple days after.
With so little time available, you need to be organized. Have a list of destinations in mind that you’d like the visit so if you spot a flight deal, you can snag it. Also keep in mind when you have long weekends available to you so you can maximize your time away (more about this later!).
When starting a new job, when negotiating your compensation package, try to negotiate for more vacation time than what is offered. Most people forget this aspect of the negotiations, but this is the best time to ask and you’re fully within your right to do so! Another good time to revisit this topic is when asking for a raise. If your company doesn’t seem receptive to the idea of paying you more, see if you can get more vacation time instead.
Be a tourist in your own city
Often, we’re so wrapped up in our day-to-day activities and schedules we often forget what is closest to us. See your hometown through the lens of a visitor. What are the top attractions in your city? Go visit them. Get up high and see your city from another point of view.
I generally don’t think of Vancouver as a destination for tourists. For me, it’s just home. And yet, in the summer months, our streets are filled with tourists from all around the world. I try to do something new every week or two or visit interesting festivals happening in the city. I enjoy trying new restaurants and cuisines, which can be like traveling.
Day trips and weekend getaways
No matter where in the world you call home, there is always something interesting to discover and explore nearby. Weekends are a good time to get in the car and drive. Try a new route or pick a city and town you haven’t explored fully. If going away for a weekend is too much of a commitment, try a day trip. These little trips give you something to look forward to while you wait for your longer and bigger trips in the year.
Take simple flights
If you do want to get on a plane to go somewhere further on a short trip, try to stay within the same time zone. This way you don’t have to deal with jet lag. It’s surprising what an hour or two difference can make you feel. You want all the energy you can get to get the most of your weekend away. Also, try to take direct flights even if it means paying a little bit more. They’re shorter allowing you to maximize your time in a new city.
Use your long weekends
Every year we get a number of long weekends through public holidays. Use them to your advantage and combine them with your vacation days. Along with the weekends on either end of the week, you can go somewhere for 9 days and only take 4 days of vacation. Using this technique I’ve gone as far as Spain and Japan. I try to find some place to go every long weekend I have whether it’s close by or somewhere further away.
Ask your manager
One technique I really like is just asking my manager if I could take some extra time either in combination with your vacation days, as unpaid leave or borrow time from vacation days I haven’t earned yet. I’ve done this in a couple different positions, and much to my surprise, no one has refused me. The places I have worked for and my managers all valued the skills that I have pick up from extensive travel (which also made good candidate for the position in the first place). And what’s the worst that can happen? They say no and you’re still in the same place as you are now and you know it’s time to find another gig that gives you that flexibility.
Once you’re there
With so few days to travel, as tempting as it may be to want to dash from place to place, don’t! I find I’m able to appreciate my experiences so much more when I’m able to slow down. Accept the fact that you can’t see it all in one trip no matter how hard you try (and I’ve tried hard!). Slowing down allows you to really feel like you’re in a new culture and gives you an opportunity to learn more about a place. These will be feelings that carry you until your next trip, which really helps when wanderlust strikes!
With a few adjustments in lifestyle and way of thinking, incorporating travel in your life can be done. What are some of your tips to living a life of travel?
Adelina Wong is a part-time traveler and marketing professional based in Vancouver, Canada. She is the gal behind Pack Me To where she writes about her travel experiences, delicious foods and tips on how to live a life of travel with a full time job. Follow along on her latest adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.