A life of travel. It sounds like a dream. A lot of people make it sound like a dream. For some it is. And for a lot of us, a life of full-time travel is just not feasible. We have a full-time job. We need a home. Also, we want a home to miss when we are on the way. Still, we want to travel – travel a lot and even more! Well, human beings are sometimes complicated.
But we get it. That’s how we feel. We start planning our next adventure right after arriving home. We start planning how to use our vacation days next year as soon as we are out of them for the current one. And looking back to all the wonderful places we visit each year, we could hardly believe we travelled that much while working full-time. (From time to time some people has doubts about that, too. 😛 But we do work full-time. And we take these doubts as compliments.)
Since the new year has just started (oh, well, let’s say you probably still have the majority of your vacation days to use for the year 😀 ), we collected the rules and strategies we use to make the most out of our vacation days. We hope to give you some inspiration and can’t wait to hear your tips.
First of all, use them!
This is the simplest and most important rule, the one we doubted whether to even include here. Because it’s just so obvious. But then, often it isn’t. Why would we hear about so many people not using their vacation days for the year otherwise? Whether it’s because they don’t want to or they don’t have the chance or they think they don’t have the chance, it makes us said. We all need time to rest and do things for no other reason than because we enjoy doing them.
Our travels made us actually realize how spoiled we are here in Hungary with our 20 days of base vacation. (And we get extra days as we get older – couldn’t think of a nicer benefit for aging, could you? 😀 ) But no matter how many vacation days you have, if you don’t use them.
Even 5 days combined with the weekends before and after could be turned into a nice trip. Combining vacation days with a long weekend is also a good way to lengthen it. If you can take off 10 consecutive days, that’s 16 with the weekends and it’s probably enough time to visit a faraway dream destination or do a longer road trip.
Plan with long weekends
But you have more chances to travel than those one or two longer holidays each year. There are the public holidays that are before or after a weekend. These long weekends are perfect for shorter, action-packed (or relaxing, whatever you prefer) getaways.
We check public holidays at the beginning of each year (some public holidays can vary in Hungary) so that we can plan for them in time. Then we check air tickets for those dates. Since we can’t really be flexible with the date, we try to be flexible with the destination. That’s not very hard since we are excited to visit almost any city in Europe! (Not just in Europe, but others are too far for a long weekend.) That’s how we flied to Barcelona or Milan from Budapest.
If it’s a common holiday in a lot of countries (like Easter or Christmas), air tickets are probably too expensive. Then we plan a road trip in some of our neighbouring countries. That’s how we visited Krakow, Warsaw, Wrocław, Łódź, Prague, Brno, countless castles in Moravia, Hallstatt, Zagreb, Bratislava or Košice… And so many fabulous cities in Central and Eastern Europe are still on our list.
Now it’s your turn… think of all the cities or national parks close to where you live. Do a research about the cities you can reach by airplane in a couple of hours and then subscribe for price alerts for your dates to monitor prices.
And what about the 52 weekends each year (okay, minus the long ones…)? They offer countless chances to explore your own backyard. It never ceases to amaze us how many beautiful places are within our reach even for a weekend trip. If we start the trip on Friday evening, we broaden our choices even further.
Our favorite weekend trip is usually a hiking trip in Hungary, Slovakia or Austria. Or a weekend getaway to Vienna, one of our favorite cities in the world. Or visiting some of the lovely Hungarian cities like Pécs, Debrecen or Sopron. Even if we stay in Budapest for the weekend, we usually do a short hike in the nearby mountains and hills. Not to mention how good it feels to be a tourist in your own city from time to time.
Early and late flights
Cheap flights of low cost airlines usually offer another advantage: extreme early and late hours to depart/arrive. I recognize that getting up at 3 am to catch your flight at 5 am is not the most convenient way to travel. But when we only have 3 days to spend in a city we couldn’t be happier to arrive as early as we can on the first day and leave as late as we can on the last one. Even if it means less sleeping. (And let’s just forget about the Monday after that weekend. 😛 )
Get the most out of your business trips
I know, I know. Business trips are business trips and they are about work in the first place. But if you make it a priority, you can probably squeeze in some time for sightseeing, too. It’s even better if you can take one or two days off after the business part, so you can have some time all to yourselves and your new experiences. That’s how we ended up having a wonderful time in Amsterdam, Zürich, Lucerne or Basel.
Time off in lieu
Some employers prefer giving their employees time off instead of paying overtime. Some leave it to employees to decide what they prefer. Either way, if you can exchange longer working hours for some extra days off, it might be worth it from time to time. Time in lieu can nicely add extra days for a long holiday or you can enjoy more long weekends during the year.
If your working hours are flexible, you can take advantage of that, too. Like working longer on Thursday and leaving early on Friday. It’s a small thing, but it can make a difference. It can lengthen a weekend trip. Or it can lengthen a holiday – you don’t need to take a day off if you fly later in the day.
Make the best compromises
We strongly believe that if travel is a priority in your life, you can find a way. (No, not everyone in every case, we realize that. But if you have vacation days and have the privilege to plan for them, you probably can find a way.) We also believe that you don’t need to travel far away to find amazing places. People often underestimate their own backyard – we are guilty in that, too.
You need to make compromises though. Maybe you sleep less. Maybe you pay more because you can’t be flexible enough with your dates. Maybe you have to prioritize and keep it strict. But we all make compromises and struggle to have time for things that are important to us. Whether we travel full-time or not. Whether we travel or not.
Do you have any travel plans for this year?
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Travel tips and resources
It takes effort and careful planning to get the most out of your vacation days each year. We help you with complete travel itineraries, based on our own experiences. See them here!
- Flights: find the best flight deals with Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights. Save money: be flexible with your flight dates & fly with carry-on only.
- Accommodations: Find great hotel and apartment deals with flexible cancellation policy on Booking.com. Book hostels on Hostelworld.
- Car rentals: use RentalCars.com and Kayak to get the best rates on car rentals.
- Tours: Book guided tours with GetYourGuide, Viator and Civitatis.
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