There are two basic questions we always get asked when it comes to travel: 1) how do we afford to travel so much? and 2) how do we find time to travel? We covered the first question in an earlier post, so this time we’re laying out how we plan our vacations to maximize our time off. Hopefully these tips will be help you in finding time to travel.
When it comes to planning our travel for the year, we try to strike a good balance between long (~2 weeks) and short (3-5 days) trips. This has to do with a couple of things, but it usually boils down to budgeting, and being able to maximize the places we visit while not taking too much time away from work. For example, this year we are taking/have already taken the following trips:
- Panama City, Panama and San Jose, Costa Rica
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Portland, Maine
- Spain and Germany
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Helsinki, Finland; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Bangkok, Thailand
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Asheville, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
- Chicago, Illinois
- Clearwater, Florida
- Washington, DC
At the end of the year, this will end up totaling 25-28 days of PTO, depending on how many days we decide to take off versus work remotely for a few of these trips. And while we understand that this is still more time off than some people are able to take, we have a few tips to help you you when finding time to travel, regardless of the PTO budget you are working with.
1. Incorporate Holidays
If nothing else, try to incorporate company holidays into your trips whenever possible. Both of our longer trips this year (Europe and Southeast Asia) are centered around holidays — Memorial Day and Labor Day. Doing this usually has two benefits: 1) you get a ‘bonus’ day off that doesn’t cut into your PTO budget, and 2) many of your coworkers will probably be taking vacation around this time too — which, in our experience, means less work to have to come back to.
2. Take Weekend Trips
A lot of our shorter trips are over the weekend, leaving late on Friday or early Saturday and returning on Sunday. For places that are close enough to where we live (Maine, New Hampshire) it’s easy to book a quick weekend trip.
3. Plan for Multiple Destinations
You’ll notice that our longer trips usually include more than one city in more than one country. This is because traveling all the way to Africa or Asia takes a big bite out of your travel days — so we find its best to visit multiple places while we’re there. This usually means that you spend less time in each city, but we’ve never been the kind of people to worry about seeing every single sight when we visit a new place.
4. Work Remotely
If you have the kind of job where you can work remotely, you can incorporate a few remote work days into your trip where it makes sense. Sometimes it’s easier or less expensive for us to fly out of a city on a Monday, so we’ll work from the hotel and airport until we catch our flight so that we don’t have to waste PTO on a travel day.
5. Plan Ahead
Above all, the best thing you can do to maximize your PTO is to plan ahead. We usually book travel a year in advance (for international trips) and 6 months in advance (for domestic trips), if the price seems to be reasonable — but we start planning well before that. Having a plan for what you want to see and do when you visit a new city will help you not only save money, but figure out how many days you need to budget for each place. Approaching it this way, you might find you can squeeze in an extra trip or two every year if you plan it right.
How do you fit travel into your busy schedule? Leave your tips for finding time to travel below.