The top two excuses people often give for why they don’t travel more are, “I don’t have the money to travel” and “I don’t have the time to travel.” Today, we’re going to tackle that second excuse and learn how to find time to travel!
- Can You Use Paid Time Off?
- Does Your Lifestyle Allow You To Travel?
- Long or Short Trips?
- Pick Some Dates!
Can You Use Paid Time Off?
Outside of running this website, I also work full time. I am lucky because I get a total of 18 days of PTO per year. According to a 2013 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the average American only gets 10 PTO days per year. The downside is that I don’t get paid holidays. I also don’t get sick time, so if I’m sick and don’t feel up to working that day, I have to take PTO.
Technically, you could argue that I have a 122 days a year that I could be traveling (there are 104 weekend days in a year plus my 18 days of PTO). The reality is, I would only have 122 days to travel if I never made plans on the weekends or never needed to call off sick from work. It all comes down to where your priorities lie.
I love to travel, but I also enjoy hanging out with friends and family and just sitting on the couch watching tv. Plus, weekends are when I get things like laundry, dishes, and other chores done. Not to mention I HATE having to work when I’m sick.
So how do I balance it all?
I save a minimum of 3 of my PTO days to use in case I get sick or need to take off work for any other unforeseen reason. The rest I’ll use for traveling. I also only travel a handful of weekends out the year (maybe 4 to 6) and leave the 46 weekends in the year for doing the other things I enjoy (and you know, that pesky laundry).
What about you? Can you save a few of your weekends and maybe even some of your PTO days to travel?
Does Your Lifestyle Allow You To Travel?
If you have the flexibility to travel whenever you want for however long you want, congrats! I’m super jealous, because I definitely can’t do that. Thankfully, my lifestyle and the lifestyles of my favorite travel companions are relatively consist year over year (except for when life decides to throw that random curveball), so I can typically pick out the best times of year for us to travel.
For example, my boyfriend works in cyber security. October is cyber security awareness month, so it’s pretty much impossible for him to take time off during the month of October, no matter how much PTO he has. Even in the few months leading up to October, it can be hard for him to take off because they are doing so much prep work for the activities they host during cyber security awareness month.
My mom, on the other hand, works in accounting. This means that the end of the year and beginning of the year are her busy times. She already gets stressed during these times, so taking time off during these months would do nothing but raise her stress level.
With this in mind, I know that spring and early summer would be the easiest times for us to step away from work without shooting ourselves in the foot.
How about you? Are there certain times of the year that you could go on a trip and not have it collide with other responsibilities?
Long or Short Trips?
Spoiler alert – not every trip you take has to be a luxurious two week getaway.
My trip to Vegas with my mom? We caught a flight right after I got out of work on a Friday, and headed back home early Monday morning. If I had really needed to be back to work on Monday morning, I definitely could have made it in time. I would have been dead tired, but I would have made it — and I still had two full days to spend exploring Vegas.
However, longer trips are nice too, especially if you want to go somewhere that has lots of things to do. My mom and I took a two week road trip through Arizona and I still don’t feel like we got to see everything Arizona had to offer.
Sometimes you may have to pick one or the other. My two week trip to Arizona took up almost all of my PTO for the year, which meant that it was going to be my one big trip for the year. If I did any other traveling, it would have to me weekends only. The year before, I didn’t do any super longer trips. Instead, I took several long weekend type trips (usually just taking off a Friday and Monday) and I was okay with that.
The challenge for you is to figure out which one works for you in your circumstances.
Pick Some Dates!
Okay, so far you’ve:
- Decided how much of your free time and PTO you are okay with using for travel
- Figured out best times of the year for you to travel based on your schedule
- Determined how long of a trip you are able to take
Now all that’s left to do is to pick out some dates that would work for you to take a trip!
If possible, I’d trip to pick out several different sets of dates with varying lengths.
For example, maybe my lifestyle allows me to travel during the month of May, but I won’t have much PTO accrued by then, so I’ll have to still to short weekend trips during this month. I would pick out a couple of different weekends in May that would potentially work — maybe the first weekend and last weekend of the month?
August would also be a good month for me to travel, and I would have more PTO accrued by then, so I could afford to take a week long trip. The end of the month starts getting busy for me at work, so maybe I would look at the first or second week of August for my trip?
Having a couple of different dates that work will give you some flexibility when it comes to how much your trip will cost. For example, you may find that the first weekend in May is cheaper to travel than the last weekend in May.
Last but not least, commit to them! Block all your potential travel dates off on your calendar, and keep them blocked off until you finalize your trip. This will help make sure you get to go on your trip and keep life from getting in the way!