Travel requires three things: desire, money and time. We hope that after reading a few of our posts you have the desire. The focus of this post is to explore tried and tested options Matt and I have used to find the time to travel. Not sure about how to get the cash? Scroll to the bottom for some helpful links.
8 Easy Ways to create the time to travel – for students and the employed
Quit your job/school
Often, people think the only answer is to just quit what you are doing and go. Don’t discount this because travelling can be a viable career option, but it isn’t without risk. If you can make this work with your life, career, family, or financial responsibilities then do it. But, for many you this leap may be too much. Read on for other options for both the working stiff and the student.
Sign up for an international internship/program/placement
Many schools have a program where you can study abroad. Take advantage of these programs and you may find yourself going to school in an exotic country or city. The best place to find out about these programs is from the school guidance type office or from your faculty administration person (they know everything!)
Take a directed or an independent study course, or both
This option takes a bit more ability to negotiate and network. Depending on your focus of study you may be able to convince a professor to let you design the curriculum for a course or three based on whatever you plan on doing while not at school. During my third year of university I spent a term paddling the Yukon river. I made the Dean’s list that term and didn’t set foot in the same province as my school. The other terms required carrying a larger than normal course load, but it was worth every minute of hardship! That guidance type office should have some info on what is available, or chat with your favourite professor about how to make this happen.
Travel between months at school
4 months can equal a lot of adventure. Likely you are a starving student so go somewhere cheap like Southeast Asia. Take advantage of your age and research where you can get a working visa. Why not work your way up the Australian coast serving in bars instead of in your home town? Why not take advantage of all this time and plan an extended wilderness trip? Bike across America, paddle the inside passage, backpack the great divide trail? The road is calling.
Working Stiff options:
Take a new job
The best part about accepting a new full time job is negotiating not only your salary but also your start date. Give your previous employer the requisite 2 weeks’ notice, but why not start your new job 4-6 weeks later? Spend those weeks going to your dream destination! African safari anyone?
Work on contract
For a long time, this is how Matt and I travelled. In between contracts we took advantage of the time we had to run away and explore. Try to find contract work that also includes room and board so you can save even more money. We were guiding in the wilderness but other options include tree planting, working in remote communities etc.. When you are between contracts, you may not have a place to live, so why not travel through the jungles of the amazon during that time? There is also the digital nomad route. Click here to read an interview with 7 people who work on the road.
Maximize your vacation
This is not so easy in North America since many employers only provide 2-4 weeks of vacation per year. But don’t let that be a deterrent. Plan your time off strategically to get approval: go when others don’t and work during the busy vacation season (summer and holidays). Take a direct flight instead of the milk run so you can get to where you are going quickly and enjoy your time once you are there. Don’t plan to see all of Europe but focus on one country or one region of one country instead.
Take a leave
Matt and I now have real full time jobs with only a few short weeks of holiday each year. This hasn’t stopped us from travelling! We have taken numerous unpaid leaves ranging from a few days to 10 months (Matt’s employer called this last one a Mat -leave!) Many employers have a program like this and some will even support you to save the cash. Chat with your HR department to find out your options.
Additional Resources for funding your travels:
- Nomadic Matt has a tonne of resources for saving money before and during a trip.
- The Broke Backpacker has some really simple tips for prioritizing how to spend your money so you’ve got the cash to hit the road. My favourite: don’t smoke.
We would love to hear about other ways to create time to travel – feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section below.