Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Are We Supposed to Find the Time to Travel and Work?

Some things in life just don't balance out. I spend most of my day, week and month at work so that I can make money to live. Aside from bills and basic necessities, the money I work hard for can go towards pleasures, hobbies and anything from partying to a home or luxury car. For me, travel is the ideal place to put my money. I studied abroad in Europe a couple of times and ever since, I get this itch every so often to travel again. That itch normally comes every two years or so.

About a year ago, I started writing full-time for a travel/tourism company. I spend all day writing about top vacation destinations, exotic places, isolated beaches, crystal clear waters and amazingly beautiful natural areas. After researching and browsing pictures of each place, I find myself yearning to go to places I never thought anyone would ever want to go to. I want to go to Idaho? Bizarre. I currently have a list forming of places that I want to make a point to visit. Aside from the destinations I've never seen, I often daydream about returning to the places I have been and previously fell in love with. I want to sit on the gorgeous Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy at night with a bottle of wine listening to a street entertainer sing and play his guitar; I want to walk around the distinctly gorgeous city of Venice; I want to live in Barcelona and enjoy a cafe con leche and tostada for breakfast and the sight of the ancient streets as well as the modern, high-end store fronts; I can go on for a while. After spending an entire day teased by tempting vacations that I have to write about, I end up frustrated at the fact that taking time off from work is frowned upon. At my job, we get zero days of vacation time and 3 sick days for the first year...and I work in a TRAVEL AND TOURISM company. Go figure. I write about places I have never seen.

Although every part of me wanted to graduate, start a career and make money without looking back more than anyone I knew...I now find myself yearning for the days that I was able to study abroad for a month at a time or take a vacation without worrying that I would get fired from school. If you don't work, you have all the time in the world but usually not the funds to afford to travel. If you do work, you have the money to travel but not the time. Damned if you do, damned if you dont. If you are someone who has a job that allows you to accumulate time and take it all of in a big chunk of time (like a month) or your career has a flexible schedule where you can easily schedule a good amount of time off (nurses, firefighters, etc.), that's awesome and this is not a problem you have to deal with. For the rest of us, we have to think outside the box and find ways around this obstacle. Otherwise, we will be pissed and bitter about the inability to use our money as we please. A few things you can do to squeeze out a healthy chunk of vacation time:

Combine vacation days with holidays
Schedule your time off the day before or after a company paid holiday. This way a week's worth of vacation time can be easily turned into a week-and-a-half-long vacation.

Work Abroad
Not the easiest option but probably the best. Aside from the fact that living abroad is a fulfilling vacation experience in itself, many other countries have a very different, more flexible work and vacation policy. Travel on very affordable forms of transportation with a generous amount of allowed time.

Do contract work and travel between contracts
Work by contract (freelance, per project) so you can get income as well as an open schedule at the end.

Take time off between jobs
Start saving now so that if you foresee or unexpectedly find yourself without a job, you can schedule a long vacation before you start a new job. Take a month, two months...whatever you can afford.

Use vacation days plus Leave Without Pay (LWP)
Combine your paid vacation days with Leave Without Pay days

Working at Foreign companies
There are a few, special companies right here in the United States that are actually European, Australian or other nationalities with an office here. Some of these companies practice the vacation policies from back home and allow up to 7 weeks of paid vacation. For example, I have read about a British company that allows 4 weeks of paid vacation and urges employees to take every last minute of it. Nice.

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