How I Traveled to 5 Different Countries Using Only 7 Vacation Days
You read that right -
I posted this on Facebook yesterday and the comments it received gave birth to this blog post. Everyone wanted to know, HOW?!?!
So I'm going to share.....How I traveled to 5 countries in 2015 and only used 7 of my vacation days.
Like many Americans, I suffer from a severe lack of vacation days. Every year, I undertake the near impossible task of traveling the world with a mere 10 vacation days and 3 sick days.
So every year, I have to figure out how I'm going to take a minimum of two international trips (a requirement I imposed on myself 2 years ago) and as many domestic trips as I can handle read: afford)....which is usually once a month (but not always). How do I accomplish such an amazing feat?
It's not really a secret. The answer is simple. I make excellent use of holidays. But it's not just that. It's like a delicate equation combining the use of holidays, the perfect flights, good location, good travel partners etc.
Let me explain:
My firm doesn't observe all holidays but we do get the major ones off - Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you know, pretty much only those days when the courthouse is closed....because, indentured servitude.
Since these are major holidays, when people get a free day off from work, everyone gets the same idea so there is a lot of traveling going. Airports are busy...flights are full...flights/hotels/rental cars tend to be more expensive. So I have to start planning early.
I'm mindful of the seasons in the country I'm traveling to. I prefer to travel during the off season. It's cheaper, there are less people (so the enochlophobia doesn't take over), and there's less of a chance that I'll have tons of pictures with random tourists taking up space and breathing up all the air.
Also, flights. Flights are very important. you have to take some time to schedule. Flight time, time change, time travel....these are all very important factors to consider.
In January, I began planning a trip I took over Memorial Day weekend. Actually, about a year prior I said out loud that I wanted to go to Australia. Anyway, in January we started seriously researching flight prices with these parameters: I wanted to include a weekend and at least one office holiday AND I wanted it to be in May.
Fortunately, May is a Fall month for that region of the world. Off season! Get it?
For this specific trip, I selected May 22 - May 31st. It incorporated Memorial Day weekend, which means I'd get a Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 25th off. That's 3 extra days. Do you know what you can do in 3 days? If I can go to the Taj Mahal and back in 2, then you can conquer the world in 3...real talk.
Anyway, since time is always my greatest limitation, I try to make the most of however much I have. So, I search for nonstop flights that leave late at night or arrive early in the morning...or both, preferably both. I always try to select flights like this. That way, I can still have a full day at work, be in flight during sleep hours, induce sleep on the plane, and arrive at the destination with a full day worth of time to explore.
For the May trip, I found a flight that left Los Angeles near midnight. I arrived in Fiji around 5:30am on Sunday morning, May 24th - we totally lost a day because we crossed the international date line (real life time travel). Despite that, 11 hours passed and we arrived in Fiji at a perfect time to begin the adventure. So, if you're able to withstand the jet lag, which I highly recommend that you do, then you're good.
We were scheduled to visit Fiji, Auckland and Sydney. Despite several obnoxious flight delays, which I've written about in a previous post, we split the remaining days as follows, 2/1.5/3.
Keep in mind that any regional or short distance flights should meet the same requirements. Either leave late or try and/or arrive super early. It kinda ruins the flow when you have to catch a flight in the middle of the day.
So for my flight from Fiji to Auckland, we were supposed to depart Tuesday morning, arrive by noon, and have the rest of the day to take in the city. Then for Auckland to Sydney we did something similar.
Its really that simple! I used 4 vacation days for a trip that was technically about 9 days long!
The Second Example
Here's another example. I traveled to the UAE and India in September. The dates were 9/2-9/8.
I left NYC at 10:30pm on the 2nd. We essentially lost a day time traveling. We arrived in Abu Dhabi at 7:45pm on the 3rd. We made the hour long journey to Dubai. By the time we checked into the hotel it was about 11pm. So we chalked that whole day up to travel. But we were ready to start our adventures bright and early the next day.
That night, we caught a late flight to Delhi, arriving at 4am. That gave us the whole day.
The next day, and so we could get some sleep, we caught an early flight back to Dubai.
You get the point. A 7 day trip over seas and I only used 3 vacation days.
I'm not really the type of traveler that likes to lounge around and do nothing. I have flown clear across the country, endured the space deficient plan seat for 10+ hours and the last thing I want to do is waste time. My trips are fast paced and full of activity. And not really planned activity...I just want to be sure I do as much as I can because who knows when I'll get the chance to go back. I'm on a mission to see the world. I can't waste time going to the same places over and over again because I missed something the first time.
Not everyone travels like me. Some people like to take very leisurely vacations. Time isn't a factor for everyone. A vacation should be a time to relax and de-stress, etc. I have taken trips like that and that's wonderful.
But while I'm young and able, I like a more involved experience. YOLO, right? (jk....I hate that phrase).
So now that you know my secret....you should give it whirl. I think you'll get a little excitement from the planning stages. I always feel like I'm cheating the system when I book tickets and I get the warm and fuzzies.
**There's no where to go but everywhere...so get going! ~GEV