A post by Amanda of A Dangerous Business about traveling despite having a 9-5 job resonated with us and we agree that there is definitely no one right way to travel. So, we thought that as wanderlusts with regular, full-time jobs, we should also write about our own travel experiences, challenges, and triumphs to hopefully encourage others who yearn to travel more often to find ways to do so no matter their lifestyle.
There are a number of travel bloggers and travel (Insta)grammers out there who travel full-time and support themselves financially through different creative means, such as advertising, designing, house sitting, online teaching, and many other ways, sometimes including some combination of these different methods. Currently, we both have full-time jobs that require us to physically show-up at our workplaces at least five days a week. Fortunately, we both agreed about a year ago—after some reflection while drinking mango daiquiris on the side of the road looking out to the sea in Nassau, Bahamas—that our regular schedules should not hinder our desire to go out there and see the world.
We have bills; we have daily needs, like food, shelter, and Netflix. So when we create our budget for each paycheck, our number one priority is to pay our bills on time, purchase essential items, and add a bit to our emergency savings. If we don’t end up with negative balances in our bank accounts, we get to decide how to spend whatever extra money we have left.
We usually find amazing airline ticket deals on our apps, such as Hitlist, for long-term travel, from multiple weeks to multiple months. Unfortunately, we usually can’t avail those deals due to our schedules. So we do our best to save as much as we could to afford trips that are not dirt cheap, although we still do our best to stay within a reasonable budget, such as staying away from tourist traps, traveling locally instead, or scouring booking sites for the best lodging deals.
We also save credit card rewards and airline miles because after a few roundtrip flights, those rewards stack up and could end up getting us free roundtrip tickets. So far, the CapitalOne VentureOne card seems to work best for us, with its straightforward rewards system, user-friendly app, security features/alerts, and no foreign transaction fees.
Accepting the Process
It’s not often that we get to save what’s left over from our paychecks into our travel funds, but we try our best. Life happens and unexpected medical expenses or car repairs inevitably pop-up. We realized that getting into the mindset of prioritizing travel when faced with spending decisions is a process and rarely an overnight change.
On every trip, we also learn more about how we, whether as individuals or as a partnership, travel, from packing styles to interests. What we learn from one trip, we try to apply on another to further improve our experiences. We constantly learn more about our different travel styles, but because we continue on going through the process of learning these things, our differences have become interesting twists to our adventures.
Working eight hours on most days for at least five days a week often limits the amount of time we can spend outside of work. Longer trips are especially challenging. So it is important for us to try and squeeze as much vacation time as we could out of our work schedules. Requesting an extra day off attached to a non-working weekend, planning around the holidays of the year, saving up our vacation time for a longer trip across the globe, or even just checking out local sights after a workday or on the weekends help us fulfill our wanderlust.
With internet and social media, we see many photos of and read about numerous destinations that we definitely keep adding to our list. It is easy for us to feel the need to travel to as many places as possible, as soon as possible, but it is also essential for us to emphasize the quality of those experiences. So our trips are usually based on deciding how to spend our time wisely.
We often consider how much of our time will be spent for the actual travel portion of our trip, although roadtrips, like driving on the Pacific Coast Highway, are often part of the fun. Where we stay is also mostly dependent on how much time (and money) we’d have to spend to travel from our lodging to wherever we want to go, especially for shorter weekend-long trips. Sometimes, cheapest isn’t always the best choice. On our first trip to New York City for the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, we decided to stay in a cheap hotel in Jersey and just commute to Manhattan. Once there, we realized how much time (and money) we’d spend on our daily commutes, whether by bus, train, or cab. The room was big and comfortable, but we would’ve traded it for a much smaller room at the same price or even a bit more if it meant shaving some time off of our daily commutes.
We named our blog Almost Spontaneous because although there are times when we get to plan months ahead for a trip, more often than not, because of our work schedules, most of our trips feel like they just happen. So we have to be flexible with regards to flight availability, accommodations, and even destinations. We usually make the most of the travel apps on our phones in these situations, such as inputing the dates on our Skyscanner app and picking “Everywhere” as the destination so we could check-out the destinations with the cheapest airline ticket prices for the dates we picked.
This also means that we have to have our travel essentials ready no matter the destination; to be more flexible, some planning has to happen. We usually already know what to pack, including which clothes to bring for different types of destinations. From beach getaways to urban adventures, we have a checklist ready to make sure we have what we need. We also try not to do last-minute shopping trips not only because we may not have enough time, but also to avoid purchasing items at full price when we could have gotten them on sale a month before.
That’s What Friends Are For
We are also fortunate to have family and friends living in or have traveled to different parts of the world. They definitely help us with destination tips, airport pick-ups, and most of the time even free housing. Of course, not everyone can accommodate us, which we totally understand. However, we found that it doesn’t hurt to ask. They may not have room in their homes to add two extra people or time to drive us around town, but they usually have valuable information about our destinations that they’re always willing to share.
We love to travel, but for now, leaving everything behind is not an option for us. This is just what works for us at this point in our lives and that does not mean that this is what we think will work for everyone. We simply hope that by sharing our experiences, we are contributing to the idea-pile for wanderlusts. Also, not everyone finds enjoyment in traveling, but for us, no matter the length of our trips or our final destinations, we always learn more about ourselves, other people, and/or different cultures after every trip and we appreciate that most about travel.
Are you a long-term traveler? A weekend warrior? Or are you just starting to explore the possibility of traveling more often? Share your travel experiences, challenges, and triumphs below!