I am often asked if I have a day job. “How on earth do you manage to travel all the time? And blog. You don’t have a day job, do you?” Well yes, actually, I do.
Or my personal favorite, from relatives who know I have a job, “Do you ever actually go to work?” Yup, I actually show up at said employment, too.
I often say, if only I didn’t have to work I’d be constantly traveling. But the reality is without my job, at this point, I wouldn’t be able to afford much travel at all. Given this situation, the key is to strike a balance between the two. I need work to travel. I really, really like to travel. Sometimes work gets busy – like right not, since I just got a promotion (yay!) – and prevents me from hopping on the next plane to Frankfurt. There’s also that whole mess with accumulating leave. I think I have all of two days saved up.
So how do I squeeze as much adventure out of my days without actually going on vacation?
When I can’t travel, I get creative.
Find a beautiful view of the sunrise
Just last week, I woke up at an unfathomable hour, wiped the sleep from my eyes and drove to Sugarloaf Mountain to watch the sunrise. It feels adventurous and exciting to do something out of the ordinary, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you’ll get knowing you pulled yourself out of bed that early.
By the time I made it to work I was so bright eyed and bushy tailed that I felt like I was carrying around a secret. All that adventure before the office even opened.
Go for a mini roadtrip
Hop in a car with your best friend and head for the hills, or the beach or wherever really. Just get in and go. It could be for a day, a weekend or even a few hours. Make sure to pack up some snacks and bring along a good playlist. If you really want to have some fun (debatable), make your roadtrip at 5 am like me and my sister so you can catch that beautiful view of the sunrise somewhere you don’t normally go.
Plan a neighborhood crawl
Friends from out of town regularly ask me what to do in DC, and I think, eh…
Trouble is, I’ve had DC at my disposal for far too long and have forgotten how to appreciate it. If your feeling the same way about your hometown, here’s an easy fix. Pick a neighborhood you don’t normally hang out in and create an itinerary just like you would when traveling: brunch, galleries, local fare, little boutiques, fancy dinner. Spend the whole day playing tourist and getting to know a new side of town.
I have a neighborhood crawl planned for later this month, and I would really love to hear what out of towner’s suggest visiting. I could use the infusion of excitement in my DC plans, so if your not from here but have visited please let me know! And check back to see where I decide to go.
Volunteer for a day
A big part of why I love travel is the opportunity to meet people and discover new perspectives. There’s no reason why you can’t step into a different experience right at home. Volunteering is the perfect chance to try something new and make friends. Plus, it feels good. So go help at a shelter, collect clothes or bathe some puppies.
A big bonus here is if you get involved with a volunteer project that eventually involves a trip. Fundraising helps to offset the cost of travel, if finances are your barrier. And if its time you can’t afford? Check with your boss. Your work may offer extra leave for volunteer travel.
If you’re interested in going this route there are a ton of options. My mom volunteers with Habitat for Humanity every year, my dad and brother traveled to New Orleans post-Katrina with a disaster relief organization and me and my sister raised money one summer to fund a mission trip we took to North Dakota.
Plan for later
At the end of my first year teaching, I wanted nothing more than to travel all summer but it just wasn’t possible between common core curriculum development and my list of to-do’s before school started back up. I took my dream vacation to Thailand and put it on the back burner.
Putting off the trip allowed me to save more money and plan, which turned out to be the very thing that lifted my spirits through my second year of teaching. It’s great to have something to look forward to and the trip was so gratifying when it finally happened one year later. Plus, I may not have spent a few cool weeks on tropical beaches that first summer, but I turned one to-do (buying a car) into a fun road trip from Maryland to Louisiana, stopping to see friends in different towns along the way.
How do you squeeze in a little adventure when you can’t really get away? Any other ideas for getting that travel fix when your schedule doesn’t allow?