It’s deflating to follow influencers on social media who travel the world for a living. This is a not realistic way to make money for everyone, but this rings especially true during a pandemic. I’m here to tell you that you CAN travel the world without quitting your job. Plus, you don’t have to make a six-figure salary. Social media influencers who travel full-time set an unrealistic expectation on nine-to-five workers. Here are five ways you can maintain your full-time job and travel abroad multiple times a year.
Track your flights. If you are planning a trip and forget to track flights in advance you will end up paying too much money, I promise. After testing countless flight tracking applications, newsletters, websites, and programs my favorites are Google Flights, Travel Zoo and Hopper. Google Flights is my go-to tracker allowing you to set alerts for multiple dates and destinations. If you have a destination and date pinned down, double-track plane prices with the phone application Hopper. Hopper flights includes different airlines than Google so it will give you additional options. The absolute cheapest way to travel if you don’t have a specific date or destination is Travel Zoo. You have to apply to be a member of the free application which may seem intimidating, but I’ve never heard of someone not being accepted. One of the best vacation deals I booked was on Travel Zoo. The all-inclusive vacation to Dubai included flights, hotels, and transportation for $800 total, including taxes and fees. Travel Zoo weekly deals drop every Tuesday so set your calendar.
Find a job with unlimited vacation. I know this isn’t the status quo for most of the world, but did you know you can negotiate for unlimited vacation or extra vacation during your salary negotiation? During your next annual review or before you accept your next job offer ask them about how flexible their vacation policy is. Let them know that travel is something you value and do your research before having this conversation. Most companies automatically say vacation isn’t negotiable so being prepared and creative with your approach is key. Ask your industry peers how many vacation days they have per year. Your company wants to remain competitive and sharing knowledge of industry standards can be a powerful tool. I recommend calling your company directly for this request if you can’t have the conversation face-to-face. If your company absolutely will not budge on extending your vacation days you can ask about working remotely while on vacation or if they accept unpaid vacation days. Remote work is becoming the norm during the pandemic so they may be willing to work with you on this creative solution.
Buy things you need, not things you want. The philosophy of minimalism is to have less and do more. If you can’t stop buying then try the concept of want better, not more. The key is to stop buying things you don’t really need or even want. If you can’t afford the luxury of buying everything you want and traveling, you’re going to have to choose between one or the other. Another way to save when traveling is to only own carry-on size luggage. My favorite carry-on luggage is from Away. This helps to stop buying extra clothes for every trip along with saving time and money by not checking any luggage. Things take up your most valuable resource, time. More things = more time, always. More time spent waiting for your luggage after landing (I’ll be at the bar), more time packing, more time picking out what to wear, and more time hauling your bags across the palazzo in Italy. We catch trains that leave thirty-minutes after landing and make it into the city center while our plane mates are still waiting around the carrousel.
Choose cheaper housing. I know so many people who overspend on their rent or buy a nicer home than they can really afford. This leaves people with little-to-no money for savings, let alone travel. The truth is, most people can downgrade their home for something more affordable next time they decide to move, myself included. No one likes to be house broke. Unless you are an introvert that loves being at home and never left your house even before quarantine. Saving an extra $200 a month on housing can send you on a European vacation at least once per year. This cheap housing rule also applies to travel. Instead of opting for that 5-star resort your favorite influencer stayed at (for free, might I add) you can search for cheaper options on Airbnb or VRBOs. Brett and I stayed in a houseboat in the heart of Amsterdam for cheaper than all the hotels in the area. Hostels are also a great option and safer than you imagine. Find one that has a nice common area and most hostels have an option for private rooms, just like a hotel.
Take short vacations. You work full time and it’s not always possible to take a two-week vacation. Short getaways will help you reset from your normal routine and can be just as glamorous as two-week vacations. I’ve said it once already, but I’ll say it again. Always, always, always plan your vacation ahead of time. Pick a holiday weekend three-to-six-months away and start tracking flights. You can utilize the extra day off work and most American holidays are not relevant in other countries. Prices don’t increase until a couple months before your travel date so, again, buy your flights early. The cheapest days to travel are the middle of the week and these are also the cheapest days to purchase flights. We went to Amsterdam for four-night nights over President’s Day weekend and our flights were under $250 roundtrip from New York. Not only are long weekends abroad fun, but they are unbelievably cheap!
It’s not the most ideal time to start planning a vacation, but you can start saving and planning your buck list destinations right now. I planned an entire vacation to Portugal before the virus hit and I’m researching new fall destinations if travel opens again this year. My weekly ritual includes researching the best European destinations in fall, tracking flights and scoping out Airbnb prices. We are even moving into a cheaper apartment this year to save some money. Do you work full-time or have any travel tips for full-time workers? Find me on Instagram and let me know your favorite travel tricks or comment below!