Why Working a Regular Job is NOT an Excuse to not Travel

19 02 07 - Office Ninja
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cliph

Americans generally have the shortest amount of vacation time per year (2 weeks on average) and this is the reason I hear from people all the time as to why they do not travel often. Yes, this is a limitation, but is it a reason to not travel abroad?

I vehemently disagree.

Just because you only have two weeks free every year it doesn’t mean you must stay home or spend your vacation in an American tourist trap like Las Vegas. OK, maybe that’s what you truly enjoy, but if you’re here, you’re likely interested in traveling abroad to slightly more engaging destinations.

I’d like to consider myself a vagabond, going all over without much of a destination. But unfortunately I am like you. I have two weeks of vacation every year, and I also must take them separately. This gives me a guaranteed two trips per year, but they are quite short. Many people can take their vacation at the same time and have much more time to enjoy their trip. I definitely recommend doing so if it is an option for you.

When meeting other travelers around the world I constantly hear the same remarks about my trip.

“You’re only here for a week?”

“That hardly seems worth the plane ride!”

“What a waste of money to only get a handful of days here.”

I certainly understand where they are coming from, but the truth is that most people (especially Americans) do not have the luxury of extended travel time.

Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t do it though. Just adjust your travel plans to enjoy a smaller area and don’t try to cover too much ground. Stay rooted in one or two cities and plan day trips to the surrounding areas. Doing this will keep your travel time on buses and trains to a minimum and you can maximize your time wherever you may go.

As far as expenses are concerned your largest will likely be plane travel. There are plenty of ways to seek out the best price for airfare so shop around and check sites like Kayak and Expedia to find the best fares.

When booking airfare, look for red-eyes that allow you to depart Friday night after you are finished with work.  Depending on the time zone, this can also allow you to land in the morning instead getting in late at night.  Pop in some earplugs and take a long nap.  Wake up halfway across the world.

When you arrive at your destination find a good hostel, bed or breakfast, or guest house and you’ll save some more money.

Is it ideal? No.

Is it worth it? Yes!

Don’t let your job get in the way. Find a way to balance the two. A nice week-long excursion every six months isn’t a bad way to see the world.

7 Replies to “Why Working a Regular Job is NOT an Excuse to not Travel”

  1. I agree that it’s worth it — even if if means meeting yourself crossing the ocean every now and then. I now live in Colorado, which means two more time zones to get to Europe than when I lived in NY/NJ, and I do start drooling when I read about some incredibly inexpensive air fare from NYC.

    Even from here, however, we manage. My husband and I went to northern England and a wee bit of southern Scotland for a bit over a week last spring, and even though trans-Pacific flights really are very, VERY long, my son and I flew to New Zealand’s South Island to go skiing and a bit of sightseeing the September before that.

    Once the jet lag is forgotten, the memories of great trips linger.

    Claire @ http://travel-babel-blogspot.com (who recently returned from 10 days in Egypt)

  2. Everyone should definitely take advantage of their opportunities to go abroad. No matter how much time I get, I greatly enjoy my time spent in another country.

    On my last flight, I was able to do exactly as suggested with the red-eye flight. I left out of Nashville, TN around 5pm, hopped up to Philly, and then across the ocean. Upon landing in Europe, the day was just starting at about 9am, so I had the whole day ahead of me. Jet lag was minimized since I was able to hit the ground running. I made myself stay up that day and then my sleep schedule was almost automatically adjusted.

  3. In Australia, we have it slightly better – the standard is 4 weeks of leave per year. But there is the same problem there! People feel ‘enslaved’ to their jobs and they tend to plan their leave around their work. Unfortunately, this means they hardly ever go. The best way is to ‘plan your work around your leave’. Set the dates, do it well in advance, and stick to it.

    By the way, don’t dare check your work mobile phone or email whilst you’re away – the whole point about holidays is to COMPLETELY DETEACH from work. Otherwise, you’ll go completely crazy.

    I’m a total travel addict, and I try to find anyway to score a trip. I would suggest using a credit card that has an airline rewards scheme. I used to volunteer to pay for work functions and then be reimbursed – you’d be surprise how quickly you can accumulate points which you can redeem for overseas travel – which then greatly reduces the biggest cost of the trip!

    Also, have a read of Tim Ferriss’ book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’. It will make you rethink your current ‘reality’. He takes 3-4 ‘mini-retirements’ per year, and spends 2-3 months in each place and immerses himself in the culture!

    My motto: The more you learn about other countries, the more you learn about your own.



  4. if i could travel on a regular basis I would, the last trip I took was visiting my college friend and her hubby in southern IL spent a week with them at their home and it felt like a true vacation not a worry in my life was able to relax

  5. I love this post and I completely agree. I use every second of my two weeks (plus a few extra days earned by working weekends) while other people in my office who have been here longer and get 4 weeks end up taking every Monday and Friday in December off to use up their time before the end of the year.

    It’s tiring and I do hate spending big bucks on plane fare for a short trip, but I’d rather do that than not go at all. And every time I talk to travelers from other countries I always get the “you’re only here for a week?” question.

  6. With 2 weeks and planning it around holidays, you can actually get many places outside of the US. I started my travels that way…2 weeks in Europe, 1 week in Peru. Then I took the big leap; a career break to travel. If you are really fed up with only 2 weeks, then you can also consider taking a break from your career and travel/volunteer/learn a new skill. I traveled around the world for 16 months, trying to get all of the ‘travel’ out of my system (BTW, that’s not possible). When you come back, you simply need to market the skills you learned on the road to the business world again. It’s not impossible. It’s not career defeating. It’s just a little break! The rest of the world does it, so why can’t Americans?

  7. Americans taking a vacation overseas? They don’t even venture the wide open United States! I support your views. We need to get out and see the world, meet different people from different cultures. Corporate America has a leash on us and we tend to steer clear of the 2-week vacation for fear of repercussions. But, at least you are living it up with your 1-week vacations. Congrats!

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