Quit your job, buy round the world plane ticket, max out credit cards, have the time of your life, worry about the consequences after.
That’s as solid an option as any I think! No? Hmm, okay… let’s keep trying.
Here are 7 practical, actionable tips for how you can travel more frequently while keeping your job and your savings.
Plan it. Really, just write it down.
This is by far the easiest and most effective way to travel more. Simply start putting plans in motion by writing it down.
Start a Trello board, use Evernote, or even just use a physical notebook and start writing down all the places you want to go. Then take a look at your calendar and start plugging in some weekend getaways or longer travel stints to the farther away places if you know you can take the time off with enough notice.
It’s easy to go months or years without traveling if you just never put something on the books.
Re-structure your priorities.
How are you currently spending your time and money? If you’ve been dying to get to Iceland, WOW Air flies roundtrip from many U.S. cities for $199.
Can you cut a few Starbucks coffees, bring your lunch from home, not order takeout or those Friday beers? You don’t have to stop everything, but limiting a few of those things will add up very quickly to the few hundred bucks you need to get away.
Be willing to go anywhere.
If you just love exploring new places and want to travel more but don’t necessarily care where, check out Skyscanner‘s everywhere search.
Just enter the city or airport you’re starting from, leave the “to” field blank and it will show “everywhere,” and then for depart and return, select cheapest month. Then you’ll get a list of countries you could visit, at what starting fare, and then you can select cities and itineraries from there.
I just saw Boston to Barcelona, Spain for $277 roundtrip. It’s time you get searching!
Make the most of weekends.
From 5 PM on Friday to 9 AM on Monday, you have 64 hours. That’s TONS of time to jet out somewhere and have an adventure.
For one weekend a month for 4 months during the winter of 2016, my buddy Ryan and I made it a point to get in a quick snowboard trip out west. He was up in Buffalo, NY, and I was in Boston, and we would hop on a plane Friday evening, meet up in New Mexico, Utah, or even Banff National Park, ride for 2 days, take the red eye home on Sunday, and be ready for work Monday.
I once flew to Portland, OR on a Saturday, climbed and snowboarded off the top of Mount Hood on a Sunday, took an overnight flight back east, and was sitting in a meeting at 8 AM.
And actually as I write this, I’m about to leave for the weekend to spend 2 days climbing Mount Shasta in northern California and I get back to Boston at 1:50 AM Monday morning.
You can do it too. Maybe big mountaineering objectives won’t be your weekend thing, but you can definitely get away and pack in the adventure with less time than you think.
Get strategic with your PTO.
Instead of using it all for one big vacation once per year, get more strategic about how you spread your PTO out over the year.
You can take the weekend warrior mentality I wrote about above, tack 1-2 days on either side of one weekend each month (many of which are already 3-day holiday weekends), and then you’ve got yourself 12 epic three of four-day excursions instead of one.
Believe me, it’s better for your soul, and your happiness and productivity at work, to get away often instead of grinding it out all year for the individual carrot at the end of the string.
Have your next trip booked before you come home from one.
This is something I started doing years ago and never stopped. Mostly because I have restless everything syndrome and am extremely susceptible to the “I feel stuck” sickness.
A happy Jonathan always has another adventure to look forward to. And I recommend you own this practice as well.
Before returning from whatever the next trip on your horizon is, book another. It doesn’t matter if it’s the next week or 6 months out. It’s just about avoiding the feeling of getting home and thinking about nothing but returning to your routine.
It feels good to know you have a package in the mail, on the way, right? Something to look forward to? Apply that to travel.
Use reward points & miles from credit cards and other loyalty programs.
New to travel hacking? See how my wife and I flew roundtrip to Cabo for $100 here. But the gist of this is getting rewarded with miles and points by airlines and hotels for the money you’re already spending.
There are browser plugins you can use, like the Rapid Rewards Shopping Button (if you fly Southwest), or Rewards Stack, that you can use to link your loyalty accounts and they will notify you if you’re on a page where there is a point bonus for activating the rewards shopping portal. Bonus points for normal online shopping behavior is great.
And at the heart of travel hacking, is getting travel credit cards with major point bonuses, using the cards for normal monthly expenses, attaining the bonus spend threshold, and then using the points to travel. I haven’t paid for a flight on Southwest or Delta in probably three years. You can see all my travel hacking resources and which credit cards I recommend here.