Best of Both Worlds: Travel Obsessed and Routine Dependent

I am a creature of habit and routine, so just the idea of quitting my job to spend 4 months (or forever) traveling the world gives me anxiety like you would not believe.  I also really enjoy having money magically show up in my checking account twice a month.  So props to all of you out there who have made the jump from desk job to professional nomad, but that life is not for me.  I do however love to travel and for every new place I see I add about 7 more to my list of places I want to go.  Since I have limited vacation time at my job, I have to get creative.  I also am not a millionaire, and I have some pretty big life changes coming up (Weddings and houses cost money.  A lot of it.) so while I’m still making travel a priority, I have to be careful with my budget.  I have by no means figured it all out yet, but below are some tips I have figured out along the way that work for me.  Not all of these tips will apply to everyone, but I hope you find at least something useful for your future travel planning!

In NYC for the weekend over Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In NYC for the weekend over Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Take advantage of holiday weekends – I spend the vacation days I get for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family every year (even though that sometimes does include a little bit of travel), but I really try to cash in on my long holiday weekends.  I work for a private company and get a few long weekends a year.  I try to pick a location to visit that is fairly close/easy to get to so I don’t use most of my weekend getting to and from.

Extra Tip: I used to extend my weekends with a Monday off by taking the Friday before off to give myself a 4 day vacation while only having to use 1 vacation day.  I learned it’s so much smarter to take the Tuesday following my Monday off instead, if I plan on flying somewhere.  Friday is an expensive day to fly, but Saturdays are often much cheaper.  I save money by flying Saturday and Tuesday instead of Friday and Monday.

Be flexible with your destinations –  I want to travel… EVERYWHERE.  This makes it really easy for me because I can choose a destination based on my schedule/budget/convenience.  Instead of deciding where I want to go, then being at the mercy of flight prices; I can decide when I can take time off, how much I have to spend, then choose a location that fits within my limit.

Exploring Washington DC after a work conference in Baltimore

Exploring Washington DC after a work conference in Baltimore

Make the most of business trips – My job doesn’t require me to travel a lot, but there are the occasional conferences and client meetings that will send me somewhere for a day or so.  I ALWAYS make the most of these trips, trying to plan them next to a weekend if possible, or taking an extra vacation day or two if necessary.  My company pays for my flight and hotel (at least for the days I’m working), so a mini-trip ends up costing me very little out of pocket.  I’ve transformed trips to Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington DC, and Colorado Springs all from “business” trips into “business/pleasure” trips.

Check flight deals regularly – I have not mastered cheap flightology just yet.  I know there are probably a million things I should be doing to earn more miles faster than I am now.  But here are some things i DO do: 1) Fly Southwest as often as possible.  I love Southwest, and by flying them as much as I can, I earn more flyer miles all in one place.  2) www.kayak.com/explore This link is so cool.  You set your home city, and it brings up a map showing the cheapest recent flights searched for and found to locations all over.  This has helped me find some locations that are surprisingly inexpensive to fly to.  3) I subscribe to e-mail notifications for several sites/airlines so I get e-mails letting me know when different flights/destinations are on sale.  4)  I check flights and prices frequently, making sure to clear my cache each time so my searches are not remembered on different sites.

In front of a piece of the Berlin Wall in Fulton, Missouri.

In front of a piece of the Berlin Wall in Fulton, Missouri.

Find adventure in unlikely places – You don’t have to cross an ocean, or even another state to experience travel.  With a little research I think you might be surprised to find out there are some pretty cool things to see and do close enough to you for a quick getaway.  For example: I was looking on UNESCO’s website one day and was shocked to find there is a UNESCO World Heritage site only 2 hours from where I’ve lived for over 10 years.  The perfect distance for a quick weekend or even day trip.  I also discovered that about 40 minutes from where I live, in a small town of about 13,000, resides the National Churchill Museum.  Not only is it a fantastic museum, but there is also a sculpture on the grounds created by Churchill’s granddaughter out of pieces of the Berlin Wall.  Spend a little time on Google and I would bet you’ll be surprised by what is right in your own backyard.

Staycation weekend in Kansas City with my friend Annie

Staycation weekend in Kansas City with my friend Annie

Staycation – Read more about this here.

What are ways you balance traveling with a “typical” work life?

4 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds: Travel Obsessed and Routine Dependent

  1. I too suffer daily with my desires to travel and my need to have routine! I love your tips for fitting in trips as often as possible. I’m a big fan of the staycation – there’s so much to see and do right here at home (…and surrounding areas in the UK) :)

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one out there! I find that little mini trip here and there really help me keep a balance. I’m sure you have a lot of great places to visit right by you in the UK! You’re lucky you have more things so close to you. Everything in the US is so spread out!

  2. I relate to every single thing you said! I am always planning my next adventure, big or small. I take many long weekends – more than any other person I know. So many great tips!

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