Travel has never been easier than in 2018. Competition has continued to drive prices down, alternatives like Airbnb give travellers more options, and regions previously off-limits are increasingly embracing tourism. All this aside, one of the most common questions we receive at Departful from readers is how to travel more. And whatever the reason is that’s preventing you from traveling, I’m here to give you some solid ideas on how you can see more of the world.

I’ve amassed a list of strategies, most of which I’ve deployed myself, to help you get the ball rolling. Let’s make your 2018 and beyond full of travel!

How to Travel More in 2018

Be strategic with your vacation time

For many, getting sufficient time off is the biggest hinderance to travelling more. The two or three weeks you get per year (if you’re lucky) are eaten up by days taken here and there for commitments or family obligations, leaving a limited time to devote to a true vacation.

Be strategic by planning travel around long weekends and holidays, offering to work a couple days during your travels, or banking overtime if possible. When I worked full time, I managed some incredible trips during my annual fifteen vacation days such as a month in South Africa, three weeks in Thailand, and four weeks in Europe plus additional days used during the rest of the year using these strategies. I traveled over statutory holidays and office closures like between Christmas and New Years, I visited colleagues in other countries for cross-functional learning, and I offered to be available for a day or two during my holidays when there was an important meeting or deadline.

In my experience, this works best if you’re a dedicated employee that consistently brings value to your organization, and you’re upfront with your boss about your travel intentions. If you have a good relationship with your employer and are seen as reliable, these tactics are more likely to be successful.

Inquire about unpaid vacation or extended sabbatical

Extended vacation time is being perceived less and less as a career limiting move as organizations increasingly see the value of work-life balance and perspective-shifting travel for their employees. Many organizations allow for unpaid time off up to a certain amount, which can come in handy when you’re interested in longer term travel. More companies including PwC and Adobe are offering loyal employees the option of a sabbatical every few years, definitely an incentive for sticking around longer.

Travel is a priority for millennials, and companies are increasingly willing to allow extended time off to keep you. If you’re a valuable employee, the chances of your extended time off or sabbatical being approved is much greater than if you’re just there to do the basic minimum every day.

Seek out an international assignment or relocation

Many companies have offices or subsidiary businesses in other cities or countries, which can be an excellent way to jumpstart both your travels and your career. Investigate other offices or business units to see where you’d be a good fit and keep your eye open for cross-functional projects or job postings. Just letting your intentions for international work be known to your boss and/or HR department can open up doors for you. If you’re facing resistance, do your research and make a case for how it would bring value to your organization such as cross-border learning and knowledge sharing.

Request to work remotely

Though increasingly common, it’s still a long shot for many working in a traditional company. But if it’s something you want, it’s worth trying. More and more organizations are adopting remote work strategies to attract and retain talent, as well as reduce costly overhead.

To maximize your chances of success, put together a detailed proposal mapping out how it will work, detailed expectations, accountability structure, and, most importantly, the benefits for your employer, which could include freeing up office space, allowing for a 24 hour work day, or the elimination of costly benefits.

If your company declines, there are many ways to find jobs that are already open to and encouraging of remote work. Sites like Flex Jobs and We Work Remotely are geared directly to remote workers while freelance gig sites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to find jobs here and there based on your expertise.

Take advantage of parental leave

Many countries have an amount of time that new parents are entitled to, though many progressive organizations allow for extended time off where your job is protected. Your earnings will likely be less than your full-time wage (in Canada it’s 55%), though combining this with some of the other options listed here (like renting out your house, pursuing a side hustle, or choosing destinations with a low cost of living) it can be very affordable – and an opportunity to live temporarily in a new place with your family in tow.

Start small

Travel doesn’t need to be around the world to count. Change your mindset on what constitutes travel and take advantage of any opportunity to get out of town. Use weekends to explore nearby cities or head to the countryside or national parks for a well-deserved city break. There’s often so much to explore in our own backyards but we’re all gung-ho on heading to unique and exotic locales.

Save & budget

Studies have consistently shown that many of us would prefer travel memories over physical possessions. Would you rather your daily Grande Vanilla Latte or a plane ticket to Australia? What about another pair of leather boots versus a trip to Mexico City?

If money is holding you back from traveling, take a look at what your spending. There are so many saving methods from old-fashioned budgeting and saving (piggy bank!) to passive options such as savings accounts that round up all of your transactions thereby building you a pot of money. Check with your financial institution to see if they offer any passive saving options.

Another way to save more money each month is to look at all the recurring expenses from the things we forget about like subscriptions, apps, online courses, and memberships, which may be collectively eating into your savings. Cancel any that you no longer use or don’t really need and think twice before signing up for something else.

Working Holiday Visas

Many countries offer bilateral work/travel visas for those under 30 or 35 years of age (see this Wikipedia article for a full list). This is an excellent opportunity if you are looking to travel long term but you can’t scrounge up enough cash to cover you as you can work legally while away and continuously fund your travels. Our ver own Alex Rathy gave a detailed overview of Australia’s working holiday visa a few years back that you might find handy.

Pursue a side hustle

There are so many ways to make a little more money outside of your full-time job. You can sell your hand-made stuff on Etsy, you can start a blog, you can be a virtual assistant, you can be a part-time at home travel agent, and so much more. I personally love Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup for ideas and strategies.

If you’re interested in starting a blog, affiliate marketing is a good option for passive income though it can be confusing and cumbersome. I highly recommend the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course written by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who makes over $50,000 a month in affiliate income (omg!).

Become an Airbnb host

I became an Airbnb host last year (you can see my place here!) and it’s been a wonderful experience. Renting out my home in Toronto helps to fund my travel, particularly to less expensive destinations. For instance, my Airbnb in Guanajuato, Mexico, where I’m writing this from on my private patio, costs as much for a full week as I earn in one night for my home in Toronto.

Airbnb is an exceptional community and I’ve never felt uneasy renting my home or staying in others. It helps that the company offers a million dollar insurance in the case of any damage to your place, which makes me feel totally at ease. If you’re interested in becoming a host or trying Airbnb for the first time (you’ll love it!), here’s a coupon to get you started.

Find ways to travel for free

If your budget is holding you back from traveling, look for opportunities to travel for free. Home-swapping, house-sitting, petsitting, volunteering, farm stays are becoming increasingly common, or trade your talents (art, teaching, accounting – be creative!) in exchange for lodging. There are so many sites and organizations to connect you with local individuals and businesses who may offer free or discounted stays – do a search and get lost on the internet for awhile.

Change your travel style

It’s easy to get sucked into expensive travel – posh hotels, expensive train rides, exorbitant tour prices – that are out of budget for most of us, especially long term. On the other hand, you don’t have to travel like a gap year backpacker to stretch your dollar further. Don’t get swayed by the instagram posts of $500 per night hotels in Paris when you can rent an Airbnb or stay in a private room of a hostel for significantly less. And really, you’re just there to sleep anyway so who really cares.

You can also change your destination focus. There are so many incredible destinations that won’t cause utter destruction to your bank account: instead of Western Europe try Eastern Europe or Mexico rather than the Caribbean.

Be strategic with your credit card & loyalty points

Credit card and airline loyalty points are an excellent way to offset future travel costs. Being strategic with what you earn and how you earn will pay off in the long run in the form of free air travel and hotel stays. There is so much online on how best to leverage loyalty points (including always popular Travel Hacking Cartel) where you can learn all the latest and greatest travel hacks, though my preferred travel credit cards (for Canadians) is the SPG Amex (with an amazing 20,000 points bonus for signing up) and the TD Infinite Aeroplan Visa.

Ultimately – make travel a priority

If travel, or anything else for that matter, is important to you, keep it front of mind always. What will your biggest regret be when you’re older? That you didn’t travel more or that you didn’t get that corner office? Always strive to make your own way in the world and don’t conform because you have to, unless, of course, you want to.


How to Travel More in 2018 photos courtesy of Sylwia Bartyzel

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