Let's face it, most of the inspiring blogs out there tell you to go, quit your job and travel the world! Of course, reading all the inspiring tales and adventures that these people have been in would be enough for you to stand up and want to take the leap too. But in certain cases, you just can't, or it's not that you can't, it's just that you don't want to.
I am one of those people who don't want to quit my job to travel. Sure, there are other times where I entertained the thought - days when I'm having a really bad day at work, or I'm feeling really sick, or just want to stay at home and do nothing. But the truth is - I like having the stability. I like having a steady paycheck month on month and I don't really like the thought of toting everything that I own in two backpacks. Truth is, I love to travel, but I love going back home to a place that didn't change, one that gives me a certain normalcy, a place where I can just chill out and do nothing without thinking of paying for the cost of a hostel or a hotel room or trying to couchsurf with a random stranger. A place where I know the stores that I can buy normal stuff in and actually know a price to pay. A place where I can have you know, stuff.
Sure, travel gives you a heightened sense of adventure - where you immerse yourself in a culture and hang out with all kinds of people that you haven't been before. But the thing is, everyone settles down every now and again. Maybe I am at a point in my life where I'm happy, but I don't know. At the back of my mind I know that I will stay in America or Europe, but it doesn't meant that I'll completely quit my full time job to traipse around the world, going from country to country. In fact, I love that being employed full time offered me a chance to become an expat on three separate occasions. How's that for free travel for you?
In my case, my company paid for my relocation expenses - flying me business class to first world countries, taking care of the resident visas that I will need and any other things that I would need.
That experience opened me up to other countries that I would need visas for. I am a Filipino passport holder, and much as I hate to say it, I don't like the fact that I'll need a visa to travel for most of the countries that I would want to go.
Sure, I'd been to the South East Asia loop - Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, and even went as far to get a South Korean and Chinese visa without any issues at all. But the fact is, if I want to go to Europe without all the hassles, it was handed down to me by said employer, and I'm grateful for that. Sure, that visa has already expired but I can still use it to my advantage in the future.
I like the fact that I am now a US non-resident alien, which enables me to travel visa free to Mexico and some Caribbean countries and also provides me with a base to explore North, Central, South America, the Caribbean, and even Europe and Africa! I like the fact that being an alien resident gives me a chance to interact with colleagues from different walks of life, much like traveling or backpacking. I like the fact that I can travel hack freely in America - I've already gotten 4 free flights: back home (US to Manila), to Europe, Mexico & Turks & Caicos (see this blog for more information). I love the fact that I can stay in high end hotels for a fraction of their costs, and not paying full price for anything except for food, rent & utilities.
Granted, I do hate the fact sometimes that I pay a lot for these luxuries, and the fact that I only have a few days of vacation each year, but it's something you can overcome with the following tips:
1) Make the most of weekends & holidays - I cannot reiterate this enough! The weekend is not for sleeping, people - it's about exploring. Two full days where no one bothers you with work emails or calls, isn't that heaven enough for you? Explore local places, book a flight for a fraction of the cost that's leaving Friday night and coming back Monday morning then go straight to work. You can sleep off your tiredness the rest of your weekday evenings. Rinse and repeat. It takes time to get used to this lifestyle but a habit can be formed after doing something long enough. I never thought I could do it, but I did, and got used to it. Some holidays actually fall on a Monday or a Friday so score! Three full days of exploring for you!
2) Plan your holidays accordingly - I could be both a last minute traveler and an anal one that has everything planned out years in advance. If you are travel hacking, yes, it is best that everything is booked months in advance because that's where the greatest deals are (ie award availability or insane fares from budget airline carriers). However, the same could not be said of hotels - where the closer to the date you are, the better you find a deal. It helps your boss that they know the dates you're going to be out for contingency planning. It has worked in my favour, hope it works for yours!
3) Planning is part of the fun - I love checking various websites almost everyday and checking for availability and making sure there are a lot of checks on my checklist. I try to travel the cheapest way possible for the shortest amount of time without compromising my boyfriend's demands (ie to stay at a decent hotel or eat in expensive restaurants). Once you have scheduled your flights, it is easier for you to plot out where to stay, where to go, and what to do instead of just daydreaming at a map and wondering where to go and how to get there.
4) You won't have to worry much about the budget- This is one reason why I love being employed full time. I have a rough idea of how much is going in my bank account every month and I know what percentage of it I'll keep in savings, how much I'll invest, and how much additional money will be trickling in. This way, I won't be stopped if I want to go to higher ticket items, one that can't be easily travel hacked (ie Antarctica, Galapagos, Easter Island). I know I have some money to burn and that money is for spending! You can't take your money with you to the grave but experiences can.
5) I'll have time to recover after a big trip- I can sleep for hours on end during the weekday to help charge me up but my weekends can still be very busy, even when I'm not on the go. Thing is, people who are location independent work too, albeit on the road. The reason why they can afford it is they choose lower cost countries that allow them to pay less in rent. I for one want to stay in America - even though the costs are more expensive, the opportunity is there to get a LOT of free stuff if you know how. I don't really want to travel then stay for a long time in a lower cost place. I'll just do that in the Philippines where I have a home to come home to (but bah internet sucks in the Philippines)
Okay, enough of the long post, I hope you get my drift of why I chose a life of the cubicle prison, and just shows the other side of travel that's rarely portrayed by your favorite travelers.