Last Updated: 3/12/2022 | March 12th, 2022
Time. There just never seems to be enough of it. It always seems to move 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. (Money is also an issue, which I’ve talked about here.)
While there are more digital nomads and remote workers now that COVID has changed the concept of the office, not everyone is able to work remotely these days.
But, even if they don’t want to be nomadic, most people I know with office jobs (specifically Americans) want to travel more than they do. They just feel like they don’t have the time.
They are wrong.
Let’s say you work 50 weeks a year and get two weeks of vacation. (Not American? Then you probably get a lot more and that’s wonderful.) Counting your vacation 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.
When looking at it this way, our busy schedule becomes a lot more open. What are you doing with that time?
Everything is about priorities. Yes, there are certain obligations we have in our day-to-day lives that take up time but if you really want something, you find a way to make it happen. It’s like when I say I don’t have the time to go to the gym. I have plenty of time to go to the gym; I’m just spending that time elsewhere.
Because the gym just isn’t a priority for me (though it probably should be).
Moreover, 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 vacation, a cruise, or some long, multi-month journey. It’s a big trip to a faraway land.
That’s not really their fault. It’s just how the travel industry tells us we need to travel because long and big trips mean people will spend more money. We internalize that concept and never consider other options.
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.
However, if COVID has taught us anything it’s that there are TONS of things to see and do close to home. Even when you don’t have months to travel, as we’ve seen, you still have 110 days of potential travel per year. If you make it a priority, you can certainly travel more.
But what do you do? What kind of trips can you take on a smaller time scale that still have a big impact? Here are some trip ideas to help you plan to travel when you have limited time:
1. Take a weekend getaway
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 used to spend a lot of time in New York City. From there, weekends away would include trips to Atlantic City, Fire Island, the Hamptons, the Berkshires, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC — and those are just the ones a few hours away!
Try to incorporate more weekend trips away. It can help break up your routine and keep your wanderlust in check until your next big trip. Even a couple of days somewhere are better than no days anywhere!
2. Go somewhere close
Only have a week? Don’t travel halfway around the world, wasting tons of time getting to your destination. Go somewhere a short distance away.
Living in Miami and Fiji is too far? Head to Central America!
In Sydney and Los Angeles is too far? Go halfway and stop in Hawaii, visit New Zealand, or pop over to a Pacific island nation!
In Europe? Well, 90% of the continent is a three-hour flight away so you’re set!
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. So be flexible.
Anywhere you haven’t been is a good place to visit.
And, when you travel, less is always more.
3. 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 Amsterdammers 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 tourist in my own city because it helps you learn and understand where you come from.
There’s so much around you that you probably don’t take advantage of when you’re busy leading your regular life that, when you stop and look for a second, you can find plenty of exciting activities to fill your time.
After all, travel is about seeing and learning about new things – and that can take place right in your own backyard!
Important: If you are going to do this, stay somewhere that’s not your house so it feels more like a vacation. 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.
4. Maximize 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, realize 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 vacation 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. Quality over quantity.
You may not have months to travel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel at all. There are a plethora of ways to get out and travel the world on a budget without having to be a nomad like me. Telling yourself you don’t have time is just an excuse.
You do have the time and you can learn the skills to travel better. The problem is you probably aren’t thinking of how to spend that time beyond the typical “two-week vacation.”
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, prioritizing 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.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.