When it comes to travel, it's easy to get stuck in the "I'm too busy" trap. Sure, work takes up the majority of our time and scheduling holiday time can be a hassle. But as writer and avid traveller Matt Kepnes explains, changing the way you travel (weekend trips instead of several days, for example) opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Image by Stokkete (Shutterstock).
Time. There just never seems to be enough of it. I mean, it's already October. Didn't we just celebrate the start of 2012? I feel like I was just ringing in the New Year in Thailand weeks ago! Time moves too fast (and every year it seems to just move faster)!
Time is something people always tell me they don't have enough of and is one of the main reasons why they don't travel as much as they would like. Now, I won't pretend that people with 9 to 5 jobs can travel like I can or that they even want to. My travel lifestyle suits my needs. It's not for everybody.
I'm lucky enough to have found a way to make a living while being my own boss and travelling when and how often I want. (The same is true for any internet-based profession really. You don't need to be a blogger to be your own location independent person!) People with office jobs have to be at work Monday through Friday. I don't, and that means I can travel a lot more than others are able.
But even if they don't want to be nomadic, most people I know with office jobs want to travel more than they do. They just think they don't have the time to do so.
They are wrong.
Let's say you work 50 weeks a year and get 2 weeks holiday a year. (Not American? Then you undoubtedly get a lot more and you should consider yourself lucky). Counting your holiday time and every weekend brings the total number of days per year you can travel to 110 (104 weekend days plus the 10 days in your two-week vacation). That's a lot of time to travel. Throw in three-day weekends and holidays and we can add even more days to our total. It may not be all continuous, but you can do a lot with that much time.
Let's think about that for a second — 110+ days of free time per year. That's close to four months of potential travel time per year! Four months! The world is your oyster with that much time.
By looking at it this way, our busy schedules become a lot more open. What are you doing with that time? When you say you don't have the time to travel, maybe it's because you haven't made it a priority. It's like when I say I don't have the time to go to the gym. I have plenty of time to go the gym — I'm just spending it elsewhere.
I find the problem to be most people associate "travel" with a long-term, big expensive trip and thus discount all the short-term methods of travel. When people think "I want to travel" they envision a two-week trip, a cruise, or some long multi-month journey. It's a big trip to a far-away land.
That's not really their fault — I used to think that way too. It's just how the travel industry tells us we need to travel. We internalise that idea and never consider other options. The industry's marketing machine tells us that travel means a long trip where we spend lots of money. And if you hear something enough, you believe it. I used to. It's why Jessica is never going to Ireland and Bob will always be a hater.
Like many, they don't think about all the small, little ways you can satiate the travel bug when time is not on your side. But there are plenty:
Spend a weekend away somewhere. Two days isn't a lot of time but it's still enough to explore a city, town or camp in a national park close to you. I spend a lot of time in New York City. From there, weekends away can include Atlantic City, Fire Island, the Hamptons, the Berkshires, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC — and those are just the ones within a few hours of driving! Try to incorporate more weekend trips away. Even a couple of days somewhere are better than no days anywhere.
Go Somewhere Close
Only have a week? Don't travel halfway around the world, wasting loads of time getting to your destination. Go somewhere a short distance away. In Miami and Fiji's too far? Head to Central America! In Sydney and America's too far? Go halfway and stop in Hawaii, visit New Zealand or a Pacific island nation! In Europe? Well, hell, 90% of the continent is a 3-hour flight away! Stay close and you'll need less time to do what you want. Additionally, the best flight deals you can find are often for destinations close to you.
Be A Local Tourist
I don't think people are tourists in their own city often enough. How often do you visit the museums, explore new areas in your town, or visit the major attractions of your city? I know New Yorkers who have never been to the Met, Bostonians who have never walked the Freedom Trail, and Amsterdamers who have never wandered through the red-light district. Take the weekend, move out of the house and into a cheap place to stay, and be a tourist. I love playing a tourist in my own city because it helps you learn and understand where you come from.
Important: If you are going to do this, leave your house and stay elsewhere. Otherwise, it will be too tempting to wake up, run some errands, and then "run out of time". For this to really work, you need to break your routine and not staying in your house is important to do that.
Maximise Your Time
Don't try to see everything under the sun. You'll run around too much. I field a lot of emails from people who want to see half of Europe in two weeks or want to conquer all of South America in a month. When you think that is how you have to travel and try to cram everything in, it's easy to get burdened by your itinerary. You look at all those destinations, get overwhelmed, realise there is not enough time, give up, and hold off until you do "have" the time. I get that you don't have a lot of holiday time and want to see a lot, but don't! Sticking to just one or two places suddenly opens up a lot of time and opportunity! You'll never be able to see it all. Even with my open schedule, I still can't see everything I want. I stopped trying long ago. In travel, less is more.
You may not have months to travel, but that doesn't mean you can't travel at all. There are plenty of ways to get out and see the world without having to be a nomad like me. Telling yourself you don't have time is just an excuse. You do have the time; the problem is you probably aren't thinking of how to spend that time beyond your fixed holiday period.
So the next time you think "I don't have the time", think of all the places nearby you could explore. Yes, you'll have errands to run and things that require your attention. But by using your time productively, prioritising travel, and thinking outside the box, you'll find you do have time to explore the world. Travel is about exploration, and that exploration can happen anywhere for any length of time.
Why You Have More Time to Travel Than You Think [Nomadic Matt]
"Nomadic" Matt Kepnes has been travelling the world for the last six years straight and blogs about how others can save money travelling too. His goal is to help people travel better, cheaper and longer. You can find more tips at his blog, Nomadic Matt.