There is never enough time. Time to see, taste, touch, and explore all the places, cultures, and vast spaces in this world. Finding time to do the things we love outside of work is an ever-present problem. Last week in our Live Travelettes feed we had a lot of American ladies asking about traveling with only two weeks of vacation, as it is the hard truth of American working life. I am one of the few American Travelettes (with a full-time 9-5 job), so I thought I would share a few ways I squeeze travel into everyday life, make the most of three day weekends, and do my best to get the utmost out of those precious vacation days.

Say you are like most Americans who have two weeks (10 working days off). That means you have 114 days per year that you can actually travel (this includes 104 weekend days and 10 working days). It sounds a little more bearable when you think about it like this. Although this time is split into tiny two-day chunks, you really can squeeze a lot of travel into your year with a little planning and prioritization.

Try a Micro Adventure 

We often think travel has to be this grand, week-long adventure hiking Macchu Picchu or lying on a beach somewhere in Tahiti, but the adventure of travel can be found even on a week day. I know this doesn’t even begin to squash your wanderlust, but micro adventures allow you to crawl out of the 9-5 monotony and into the wilderness, a situation you would never find yourself in, and completely out of your comfort zone. Microadventures can be anything, but some examples include:

  • Camping outside on a work night
  • Waking up early to see the sunrise at a spot in your city you’ve never been to
  • Eating dinner outside at a park
  • Sleeping in your backyard

The options are endless, but try something out of your comfort zone, unplug, and see where it takes you.

Work an hour earlier every day, and take Friday off

I am lucky enough to work in the tech industry, and a lot of times if I come in an hour early and stay an hour later I can take a half day Friday with almost little to no consequence. Again, I know this is completely dependent on your industry, boss and situation, so I am not saying this is an option for everyone. But it could be a possibility. If not, get the most of your weekend by taking Friday off; this allows you the option to actually take a flight Thursday night, and return Sunday.

Stick to your own time zone for weekend trips 

Go somewhere close, specifically a destination with a direct flight within your time zone. Live in Colorado? Fly to somewhere in Central America or Mexico if Bali or Fiji are too far. There are plenty of amazing places outside of the US that are only a direct flight away. Think Bogota, Cartagena in Colombia; or Lima, Peru. Try downloading the Hit List App. I have it set as a widget so every time I open a new browser, it actually comes up with a picture and price to a random destination from the airport closest to me (so, in my case flight prices out of Austin-Bergstrom Airport). It is so fun, and it opens your mind to an array of new spots!

Take advantage of Public Holidays

We may not get as many vacation days as our lovely counterparts in Australia or Europe, but we do get plenty of Holidays off – think Fourth of July, Labor Day, day after Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc. Try to coincide trips with these holidays; that way you can take a one week trip, and only miss four days instead of five. And often times, people are pretty checked out before and after the Holidays so you won’t feel too behind when you return.

Choose the red eye flight

Whether you are hopping across the pond to Sydney, taking a bus to San Antonio, or flying cross-country in a Jettly private jet to New York City, book overnight transportation. If you leave Friday night rather than Saturday, this obviously gives you one more travel day to explore (and you don’t have to pay for accommodation that night).

Road trip to nowhere in particular 

two weeks of vacation?

In America, we are so blessed by the open road, and the ability to drive freely from state to state on some of the nicest highways, backways, and dirt roads in the world. Take advantage of your weekends by leaving right after work on Friday for somewhere new. I currently live in Austin, TX, and let me tell you – the tiny Texas towns like Lockhart (home to some of the world’s best barbecue) and Shiner (home to the only Antique shop that serves beer) are like traveling through time warps to entirely new countries.

Look at a map, or just pick a direction and drive to a town you have never been to before. Tt’s freeing, and you never know what adventure you’ll find.

Don’t be afraid to ask for time off 

I think in America, we are oftentimes so afraid to ‘not work’, to be the one who takes a sick day or a ‘travel’ day. I am learning to slowly let go of the suffocating feeling that my co-workers are judging me, and opening up to the fact that sometimes you just need to get in the car, plane, or train and go for a weekend, or an entire week.

There are always excuses to keep you from traveling – time, money, priorities, laundry, errands, or work – the list goes on and on. You can squeeze travel into your life, it just takes a little more planning and a lot more prioritization. The next time you feel overwhelmed or tied down because of your lack of vacation, take a look around you. Think of one nearby place you could explore for just a Saturday or Sunday, and get up and do it. Leave the check-list at home, and vow to make more out of your precious days off!

Photos via Unsplash