How I Travel The World With Limited Time Off
Like a lot of people who live in the United States, I don’t get an overwhelming amount of time off. After working five full years at my company I finally have a whopping total of 15 days off a year. Now don’t get me wrong, that could send me on a nice three week vacation – but when your family lives across the country from you and you’re at the age where all of your friends (who live all over the country) are getting married – it becomes a balancing act of long weekends with them and seeing the world.
Since 2009 I’ve made it a goal of mine to visit at least one new country a year – and in the past 18 months I ended up making it to 9 new countries (and Puerto Rico!). How did I do it? A few different factors played into making all of that happen:
- I utilize public holidays. Since moving across the country to San Diego in 2008, I’ve been home once for Thanksgiving. You can go on a 10 day trip and only use up 3 vacation days (if you’re working one of those Monday through Friday jobs like I do).
- I’ve visited some countries for only a handful of days. I go into these trips knowing I won’t be able to see everything – but really, when do you? I’ve lived in California for almost 9 years and there is still plenty of this state that I haven’t seen!
- I make the most of long layovers. Sometimes it’s the only option when booking a flight and sometimes I’ve chosen the long layover option, but it’s a great way to see a new city and country at no additional cost!
- Take unpaid days off. I’m not sure if all employers would allow this, but this year I’ve taken five. I had five weddings and two bachelorette parties on the other side of the country so taking some unpaid time off made it all work out.
- Red-eyes. While this isn’t always an option (and sometimes the only option) depending on where you are traveling and how long your flight might be, I usually opt for the redeye. Yes, I can sleep pretty well on an airplane, but just the sheer fact that I don’t waste an entire day off flying somewhere is reason enough for me. Drink some coffee, find a place to take a nap, or survive on your first day in a new place on pure adrenaline – you’ll have some time to sleep eventually!
- Find a job that involves some travel. Unfortunately travel at my job has slown down quite a bit, but I was able to visit Spain (Barcelona!) for the first time last year. I made the most of that trip by adding a couple days on each end of the trip so I could have some time to relax and sightsee.
The moral of the story is that if you want to travel, you can make it happen. And if you do decide to go somewhere for a short amount of time – do a little bit of research! I’m not one for a strict itinerary, but having an idea of what activities there are, sights to see, good restaurants to try and fun bars to grab a drink at, will also ensure you get the most out of your trip – whether it’s for a limited amount of time or not.