Today’s post comes from Katelyn Michaud, who is a 20-something career girl located in Portland, Maine. She is equal parts a certified workaholic and a traveler at heart. Katelyn works multiple jobs to pay off her $44,000 in student loan debt and to travel the world. You can read more about her story and adventures at . Katelyn is an expert on making the most of limited vacation time, and I thought this made a great companion to yesterday’s post – how I travel so much!
Travel requires two things: time and money. Money can easily be made and spent, but time is a lot harder to make. We all have the same 24 hours a day 365 days a year to spend. As a child I remember time lasting forever. The summer months felt like years and moved slowly as I enjoyed countless days splashing in the pool, playing tag with my friends, and licking melting ice cream off my fingers. Now that I’m an adult and work a full-time job, life flashes by in seconds. Just yesterday felt like August. Where did time fly?
My heart is full of wanderlust. As I sit here at my desk writing this post, I am day dreaming about hiking through the highest mountain passes in Nepal and diving the Great Barrier Reef. And then reality sits in. I have to read this 68 page report by lunch and finish this grant report by the end of the day. The life of a 20-something career woman isn’t always as amazing as the movies make it sound.
I love my job, but there are days that I want to pack up my things and hit the road for good. But I can’t. I have student loans to pay like most recent college graduates. Travel is far from a main priority for many of us, but for those of us with a strong case of wanderlust, we make it a priority in our lives even with our limited time.
Unfortunately in the American society, vacation time is limited compared to our European counterparts. The average American has 16 days of paid leave while France and Italy are given 31 days paid time off. Most Americans only start with 10 days if they are even lucky to get paid vacation time at all! Over a quarter of US Workers receive no paid vacation or holiday times because employers aren’t required to provide paid holidays and vacation time. Thanks Uncle Sam! Canada is not too far off from the United States with only about 19 vacation days a year.
I currently work for a healthcare non-profit company. I have great benefits, but since my position is considered entry level, I only get 10 vacation days a year. Two weeks of vacation time doesn’t give me a lot of opportunity to travel and explore the world. Luckily, in addition to my 10 paid days of vacation, I also receive 12 days paid holiday.
I love traveling and even with my limited vacation days and busy schedule, I make it a priority. My coworkers and friends are always questioning where I’m heading off to next. Last year I did quite a bit of traveling, but 2015 is going to be a huge year of traveling for me.
Are you looking to maximize your vacation days so you can travel more or longer? The best way to do this is to schedule your vacation days over a holiday. Last year I scheduled my trip to Sao Miguel (Azores), Portugal over the Thanksgiving holiday in November. I was there from Wednesday through Sunday, but only used one vacation day due to the two days of paid holiday time and the weekend! This year I scheduled my Europe trip over the Memorial Day holiday and my Iceland trip over Columbus Day weekend in October. That allows me two extra paid days to travel!
When I feel antsy, which is quite often these days, I schedule short weekend getaway trips on long holiday weekends. I spent Martin Luther King weekend in January in Charleston, South Carolina and President’s Day weekend in February in Montreal. Traveling with limited vacation time can be done. You just have to been a bit more creative.
If you’re a college student then you probably have a bit more flexibility. If you have the means to travel during your college years then do it! I never formally studied abroad during college because finding a program that worked with my pre-med course load was tough. I did do a two-week travel course one winter break to Italy. That was my first real taste of travel and I have been enchanted by travel ever since.
Traveling the world with only two weeks of vacation a year can be done. You just need to be creative. Here are my tips to traveling more and longer on a limited time schedule:
- Schedule your vacation time over holiday time if you receive paid holidays.
- If your company allows for flex or floating holidays, see if you can work on the actual holiday day and use that holiday time to extend your vacation at another time of the year.
- Take short three day trips over long weekends.
- Be a tourist in your own city or state. Explore areas or restaurants you normally wouldn’t go to because all the tourists do.
- See if your vacation time can roll over to the following year. Last year I didn’t use 5 of my vacation days. I was able to roll them over to this year so I can go to Europe for 18 days in the spring.
- Schedule vacations from Thursday through Tuesday or similar instead of Monday through Friday. You use three vacation days instead of five.
- Be flexible.
Until our American and Canadian employers can catch up with the rest of the Western world when it comes to more paid vacation time, we have to be creative on how we maximize our allotted vacation time each year. By traveling over holidays and weekends, we can extent our travel time and explore the world a little bit longer before we have to be back at our computer desks on Monday.