If you're like me you get lost daydreaming of traveling to faraway places and never coming back or leaving for longer than those two weeks a year we can actually get away. So many of us daydream about becoming nomadic travelers. But to be honest, as fun as it is to daydream about, for me, it's not the life I'm looking to have. I love having a home base with my family and friends nearby, I enjoy work that has a traditional schedule and the security that comes along with it. So where does that leave me? Only daydreaming about exploring the world?
No! There's another option that's growing among Millennials, Boomers and all those in between. Become a part-time traveler!
What does it mean to be a part-time traveler? For me, it is someone who prioritizes travel in their time and finances no matter their work schedule. Whether you work a nine to five or shift schedule it's possible to make travel a priority in your life. Last year, I took more than 20 overnight trips, while only taking three days off work. With all that extra time I now get to take two international trips in 2016, plus all of the domestic ones I'll fit in.
Why You Need to Make the Change
You have over 125 days off in 2016. The average nine to five worker, between weekends, federal holidays and ten days of vacation, has over a third of the year off work. What are you doing with all of these days? Are you filling them with travel or letting them waste away while staying at home? Not that you need to travel on every day you have off, but start thinking about where you can go using your weekends, holidays and more.
Traveling and taking vacations improves your productivity. A study in 2014 by the U.S. Travel Association showed that leaving vacation time on the table decreases your productivity and increases stress, making you worse at your job and less likely to earn raises and promotions. When you take time away from work you relax your mind and body, making you better at what you do when you come home. Avoid getting fried and use those vacation days.
Travel changes you and the world. Right now, more than ever, we need to experience and embrace other cultures, communities and ways of life. The best way you can do this is by getting out of your bubble (we all have them) and tossing aside ignorance and fear of the rest of the world. It will make you a better person and is one more step towards making the world a more welcoming place.
How You Can Do It Too
Use all of your vacation days. You get paid (many of us at least) to take time off; so don't let it go to waste. Add days to make a long weekend and try to take a week of vacation each year to explore somewhere new.
Take day trips and weekend getaways. If you spend one night a month somewhere new that's already twelve trips. What's a three-hour drive from you? Where can you get with an hour flight? See how many of these places you can get to. Next, where do you live within an hour drive? Take a day trip every other weekend to explore your own backyard. This is a huge part of being a part-time traveler. Not just traveling far away, but turning travel into a state of mind wherever you are.
Earn travel rewards on whatever you buy. If you don't have a travel credit card get one now and put everything on it. Don't get carried away and pay it off every month, but for the money you already spend make sure you're earning from it. I personally have a Southwest credit card and haven't bought a flight in about two years. You'll get points for just opening the card as well. Make sure to get the most they offer. An example is Southwest. They normally offer 25,000 points to start, but if you get it through a referral or during special offers you get 50,000.
Search for deals. The less you spend the more often you can travel. I don't like to overspend, but I do enjoy staying in nice places. This takes a little more time to plan well but will allow you to increase the amount of travel you can fit into your budget. There are so many options out there to find a good deal on hotels, flights and activities, whether you're hacking Priceline Express Deals, traveling in the offseason or get deals from sites like Travel Zoo. Doing the research to travel how you want, but on the inexpensive side, allows you to take that next trip, too.
Cut Out the Excuses, Whatever They Are
What is stopping you from making travel a priority in your life? There are many tips on how to travel well and travel cheap, but it really comes down to changing your mindset and putting travel first.
Do you need to save more to travel? If so, every time you buy something, go out to eat, or add a new expense compare it to your travel goals. Do you want a new dress or another night of travel?
Or is it time that you is limiting you? Start blocking out dates for travel even before you know where you're going and don't let yourself change them. Then fill in the details. That goes for day trips, weekends and, of course, longer trips.
Being a part-time traveler is all about deciding to do it and prioritizing it in your life. You don't have to choose between work and travel, or family and travel, but you do have to make conscious decisions.
Stay inspired, keep daydreaming, but now it's time to put those dreams into action whether it's a weekend away or two weeks abroad!