I have definitely caught the wanderlust bug. I started traveling when I was a junior in college and I haven’t been able to stop. Now that I’m a “grown up” and I work full time, it has been difficult to fulfill my wanderlust spirit. Here is how I cope.
1. Overnight Weekend Trips
You can seriously see and do a lot on a two day trip! Just be sure to wake up early and do your research ahead of time. This year, I have gone on an overnight trip to Savannah, Columbia and several overnight trips to Charleston. I have a few more planned before the end of the year too.
Because of the weekend time crunch, the distance you can travel is dictated by time. So this limits your choices in destinations. But this is totally okay! I travel to Charleston quite often and I always find something new to do. I also enjoy traveling to smaller towns in my area.
2. Be Strategic With Your Vacation Days
Personally, I feel like everyone should get more vacation time, but that is not reality. To make the most of your vacation time you need to really plan out your days strategically. This might mean taking Friday off when you already have a three day weekend so that you can go on a longer trip (duh). Or adding a vacation day to your work trip so that you can explore for a day. If you are planning on going on a longer trip ask if you can work extra in order to get an “exchange or flex” day. And be sure to notify your company really far in advanced about your plans.
Definitely read up on your company’s guidelines for vacation days too. You may find that your days can roll over to the next year or that you are required to notify your company in writing of absences of more than three days. I recommend that you sit down and map out when you will need vacation days for the year. Start by determining what days you will need for the holidays and for family obligations. Then you will be able to see what you have left for travel.
3. Take Day Trips
I have taken many day trips this year that have been really amazing. I have been exploring nearby towns like Asheville, Charlotte, Hendersonville, Tryon and Highlands, NC. I also have a list of 25 hikes in North and South Carolina that are within a few hours drive. I want to complete them all within the next year. Many of them are just as beautiful as waterfalls I would swoon over in other countries. I definitely get that feeling of excitement when I am on a day trip just like when I am traveling internationally.
I think the hardest part about day trips is actually following through. It is easy to back out at the last moment since you normally won’t have to pay for anything in advance. The best thing about day trips? They are cost effective since you won’t need to pay for accommodation or too many meals.
4. Explore Your Home Town
Start by making a list every awesome thing there is to do in your home town. The list should include festivals, new restaurants and coffee shops, museums, outdoor activities, etc. Once you have made your list, start checking them off one by one every weekend. Just because you are staying in your home town doesn’t mean you can’t have adventures.
5. Try Something New
What is so exciting about traveling? That we are doing/seeing something new! You can try something new right at home (or near home). One great way to try something new is to take a class. There are cooking classes, painting classes, trapeze classes, etc. You can also try out a new outdoor activity like rock climbing, abseiling, whitewater rafting, kayaking, surfing, skiing, sailing or summiting a mountain depending on where you live. If you are really wanting to live on the edge you could go skydiving, bungee jumping or zip lining.
Trying a new activity gives us that feeling of excitement that we often feel while traveling. Now I know this is not the same thing as traveling the world, but I feel like it is a good way to keep you happy and fulfilled until you can get back out there.
6. Turn Your Family Obligation into Vacation
Traveling for your grandmother’s 80th birthday, a wedding? Or to the dreaded family reunion? Who says you can’t turn your family obligation into a mini vacation? The next time you are headed out of town for a family function, do some research ahead of time and find at least one adventurous thing that you can do either on the way or once you arrive at your destination. Of course I’m not promoting flaking on your familial duties, but there is always time if you wake up early or even invite some of your family along for the adventure.
7. Volunteer for Work Conferences/Trips
Don’t have enough days to take off of work for vacation? Ask your boss if you can go on that next work conference or trip. Many people don’t enjoy traveling so your company may jump at the opportunity to send you. You may even get praised for your motivation. You can also do some research and find a networking event or training that is relevant to your position and pitch the idea to your company. If you do your research right, they may decide to send you. Plus, it never hurts to ask! Don’t think a work trip could ever be fun? Check out my post on How to Beat the Work Trip Blues.
8. Start Planning Your Next Trip Early
For me, planning my next big adventure can be super fun! If I start researching and planning really far in advance, then I have something to look forward to even if I have to wait an entire year to save up enough vacation days. Reading blogs, surfing Pinterest and talking to fellow travelers about my destination excites me and keeps me motivated.