Strategies for finding the time for travel
When I ask people why don’t you travel? I usually get three responses. Money, time, and fear are, by and large, the three most common factors that people perceive are keeping them from traveling. I addressed the money excuse in a previous blog. I talked about how mindsets adjustments regarding travel can net you some real savings.
Today I am going to address the TIME excuse. As always, with me, there is a back story. This one is a bit sad and ridiculous, but true never the less.
I came from a job that rarely allowed me more than two consecutive days off in any given week. It was awful, I hated it. I’m sure a few of you can relate. I did put my foot down once or twice. I actually got a whole week off only after I booked a cruise or expensive vacation so they could not say no. Rest assured, though, as soon as I got off that boat, I got a call or had an urgent message from the boss requesting something he probably could have found on his own. I would then go back up to my room and get logged in and send him out the file or information he needed.
Then there was the whole problem of having to work so many extra hours to prepare everything, just to take the time off. If you were lucky enough to have a backup, (which I did not), then you could hand the work to someone else, but only after you trained him or her and documented the hell out of everything. Of course, when you get back, you have to work twice as hard to catch up. On both ends you have put in more extra time, then you are taking off. It’s sad but true. I lived it for a long time.
Almost all of my peers were in this predicament. Almost everyone I worked with brought both their cell phone and their laptops on vacation with them. I was no exception.
A startling discovery
Here comes a bit of advice about how being flexible can save you money and time.
There was a silver lining, or if you rather, the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. I discovered that if I flew out on a Wednesday and return on a Wednesday, I always got really favorable airfare rates. If you fly on a weekend, you almost always pay a premium for it. Flying on a Tuesday or a Wednesday can be up to 50% cheaper on some airlines. One of the side benefits was that I found that my boss was happier. I realized that he was only ‘at risk’ for 2 or 3 days of any given week. Then there was a weekend in between, to break it all up. If you work for a company that just doesn’t let you take time off, try this trick. You can reason to management, that in reality, you will only be out a couple of days each week. They might go for it. At this point you have to loose? Not only will you get your vacation, but you will save money as well.
The rest of the developed world, outside of the United States, protects, cherishes and ensures that their employees routinely take 1 month off each year. Imagine that? I was shocked once I started to work on a global account to discover that everyone seemed to have the whole month of August off, including the entire country of France. Guess what? People are happier when they use their time off. They are less stressed.
For Entrepreneurs out there, I also know that you are driving your business hard and trying to be successful. People tend to not take time off during this phase of the business building process. If you are inclined to say that time is a factor for not taking a vacation, I want you to answer this question honestly, Is the only real barrier to you taking time off, your belief that everything will fall apart because you are not there to keep it all together?
Let’s look at France again. The whole country takes the month of August off. The entire country. I was not being facetious. If you are an American that has always wanted to visit France, do not go in August. It will be a ghost town. Most of the shops that will be opened are the ones owned by the Chinese with Chinese products in them. Every year the entire population goes on vacation for the whole month and guess what? The country does not fall apart, the economy does not fail, there is not rioting in the streets, or mass bedlam when everyone comes back. It’s just business as usual. So if an entire country can do it for a whole month. I am sure you and your business can manage for one week. You need to do this for yourself.
If your boss is unconvinced and your can’t seem to change your own mindset about taking time off, check out this article on the benefits of taking a vacation. Maybe it might help to convince your boss and yourself that it’s in his best interest to let you take vacation time, especially if you have not taken time off in a while.
Make sure that when you approach your boss you have an answer for all of his or her objections. Try to schedule the trip during an off peak season for work. For instance, if you are a tax preparer in the US, it would be bad form to take time off from January to April.
As a worst-case scenario, the internet is more and more accessible throughout the world for free in most places. I was a digital nomad for several years. There are a lot of opportunities to work remotely, so in a crunch, if your job is primarily sitting at a desk doing things online, you can suggest to your boss that you can work remotely if an issue comes up that can not be handled by anyone else. I know not everyone can do this, but more and more people can. Offering to work remotely is an option that will make your boss feel that he or she has support, just in case something comes up. It might soften his or her heart to know you’d be willing to try something like that.
From a planning perspective, you need to make sure you know your luggage allowances and allow for the laptop bag. More importantly, you need to know how to get to your email via your phone or whatever technology you have at hand so you can stay connected. Practice when you are in the US with the technology, so that you are a pro by the time you are ready to travel. It is a bit counter-intuitive but after people feel that they are supported and safe, most bosses will let you enjoy your vacation in peace. (I did say most, some bosses are just dicks.) There I said it. You know which kind you have.
It was always funny when I visit a foreign country, and I talk to people about their impressions of Americans. I have heard multiple times that people perceive us to be stressed out, haggard and tired all of the time. I hear how Americans are always rushing around while on vacation. They feel we need to slow down. I suspect that most of us are compelled to fit in the most amount of activity in our duration there because lord knows the next time you will be able to take another vacation.
I always have to remind people from other countries, is that Americans typically only are able to use one week of vacation at a time. In very isolated and special instances, like a honeymoon, we might get two consecutive weeks off, but it’s rare. At least it was very rare at ALL of the companies I ever worked at, except of course for my colleagues that lived in outside of the United States.
If the time it takes to plan a vacation is the biggest factor preventing you from taking time off. Then hire a travel agent to do all the planning and work for you. You do not have to do everything all yourself. A good travel agent will get to know your likes and dislikes and understand what you want and what you don’t. Travel agents are perhaps the last group of people that do a ton of work for free, investigating and doing all the planning before you even give them a dime. Just as a heads up, that trend is changing though. It’s becoming fashionable that travel agents are charging a fee for their time to do the discovery process for you. Having done it myself, I can tell you it is not a small amount of work to plan a fabulous vacation for someone. I know I get vested in ensuring that I get the best possible value for my clients.
Remember, taking time off is not only important to your health both mentally and physically, but it is also healthier for your family. First of all you are more sane and relaxed. Secondly, I read once that special occasions, and events like vacations are something that children remember forever. They need a break and a change of scenery just like you do. So if you won’t do it for yourself, look at your kids and do it for them.
Scheduling your time off is important and should be considered a priority in your life. If airfare is involved, try scheduling it from a Wednesday to Wednesday, to maximize travel savings. This will also be beneficial for your boss because it will seem as if you are gone for a shorter length of time.
Remember to be Flexible
If you haven’t figured it out yet, being flexible and open to changes in thought patterns about travel will help you to obtain more frequent opportunities to enjoy traveling the world.