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It is interesting to see people’s faces when they find out we are going on “another vacation.” I get it. My family travels a lot. Especially for a family on a budget and with a husband that works full time. But travel is important to us. It helps us create memories, bond as a family, and our kids learn a lot from traveling. I think when people give us “the look” it has more to do with wondering HOW we can travel so much. So today I am going to share with you how to travel all year long, without quitting your job or breaking the bank.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post paid for by Allianz Travel Insurance, but as always, all opinions and words are my own.
Why We Travel All Year
When I say we travel all year, I mean, in general, we are going somewhere every other month or so. Why do we do this? We travel all year for several reasons.
The major reason we choose to travel all year is because we believe that experiences are worth more than things. Everybody has different priorities, and that is 100% okay. Some people want a big house, others want a nice car, some want the latest phones. For us, we want to take our kids and experience different places and make memories. A while ago there was an article circulating around facebook about why it is important to travel with our kids. We already felt like travel was a better investment for our family then other items, but this article definitely solidified our belief that travel was the best gift we could give our kids while they are young. That isn’t to say it has to be everyone’s priority, but if travel is important to you, and something you enjoy, then why not do as much of it as possible?
Another reason we travel all year is because we need a “reset” more than just once a year. Getting out of town gives us a chance to just enjoy time together, get away from work and busy schedules and refocus on what is important in life. I feel like we are blessed that we don’t have to wait a full year between trips because I think we would all go a little crazy.
We travel all year round because this gives us a chance to have different experiences and to enjoy the “off season.” It is getting harder to travel all year round now that the Goof is in school, but we still work hard to make it work because traveling at different times of the year helps us do different things. We want to visit the hotter regions in fall, winter or early spring, not in the summer heat and humidity. Like we prefer to visit Texas in November or December, and we like to visit Oregon or Washington in the summer.
Regular travel helps our children learn how to travel. Because we travel so often, our kids learn how to be good travelers. The Goof is a seasoned pro at traveling. He knows how to travel well, pack well, how to behave during travel and more. We can tell a huge difference between how well he traveled as a toddler and the twins. See, with the twins, we had 12 months where our only travel was a trip to a wedding (which went downhill– but not because of the twins) and a few small trips within our state. They definitely do not travel as well as the Goof did at that age. The Goof would nap anywhere, in a stroller the middle of a theme park. He would sleep well in hotel rooms. And he didn’t go crazy in the car. The twins…not so much. They are getting better now that we are traveling more again, but we can definitely tell a difference.
We have also found that we know adults who did not travel much as kids and have trouble traveling. Either they don’t travel well or they get anxious or confused while traveling. Granted, this could be other issues, but we have definitely noticed a difference in those who have traveled their entire life and those who have not. For example, with road trips. I grew up going on road trips. We learned from a young age that you stopped once every 2.5-3 hours, and we learned how to entertain ourselves in the car (before electronics) and also how to plan the best travel times. In fact, my parents always drove overnight with us, and that is something that I am so grateful for because now I do it with my own children and it makes the trip so much easier and smoother. (I mentioned this in my tips for surviving a road trip with toddlers.)
Basically, I find that to really get our kids used to travel, it is important we go every few months. Even with a 3 month break between our Epic West Coast Road Trip and our trip at the end of June, the twins seemed to forget how certain things go when we travel (like sleeping arrangements).
So How Do We Travel All Year While Working Full Time?
It is one thing to want to travel all year, but it is another to be able to do it. Most of us are not rich. We don’t make enough to travel full time. My family is not an exception. My husband works a full time job. Thankfully my work can be done anywhere I can get internet, but I try not to work too much while traveling either. So how do we travel all year?
First, thankfully, my husband found a job at a company that offers amazing benefits, including time off. With his seniority he gets about 4.5 weeks each year of paid time off. They also allow their employees to “buy” time off when you do your benefit enrollment. It basically is taking money out every paycheck to put away for the extra hours you purchase, but it still allows you more days. (And often times, they give you a discounted purchase than what your pay actually is.) We have purchased the extra time in the past (when I was expecting twins and knew there may be a NICU stay) but we no longer purchase it.
Even before my husband had an abundance of time off we traveled all year. So how did we do it? Here are some tips to travel all year while still working full time.
- Long weekends are your friends. Rather than taking full week long vacations, try taking a few long weekends. It can be a holiday weekend, or just a weekend where you use a day or two of vacation to make it longer. You don’t have to take a week or two every time you travel. Years ago I read an article (either THIS ONE or one very similar) that talked about how taking several small trips is as good, if not better, for your mental health than taking one or two long vacations each year. It completely changed how I looked at family vacations. It made me realize not every vacation needed to be a week long extravagant vacation. Long weekends became our friends. We would explore places like the Oregon Coast or Yellowstone over a long weekend rather than taking a full week, but we would get to go on vacation more often.
- Make the most of your time off. When you travel, do you tend to leave for vacation on a Monday morning, or do you leave as soon as you can after work on Friday? We found we could fly or drive out of town as soon as we got off work on Friday so that we had the weekend to do stuff and return on Monday, only needing to take one day off of work.
Long weekends are probably the majority of our travel adventures. Breaking up the long waits between our week long vacations with a long weekend here and there helps us get a reset and feel like we aren’t “stuck at home.” If we head to a destination that we can reach Friday night, we can have two full days to explore and then we only miss one day to drive back on Monday. If we are really ambitious, we can even drive home Sunday evening.
- Or take a half week off. So maybe a long weekend isn’t enough, you can try taking half of a week off. We have taken a few trips where we left on a Tuesday night after work and then came home early Sunday so we could feel like we had a longer vacation without missing a lot of work. While it isn’t a full week, it still gives us a good 4 days at our destination before we return home.
How Do We Travel All Year Without Breaking The Bank
This is probably the biggest question we get. How do we travel so much? We are on basically one income (I do make some money from this blog, but not a lot) but we still want to travel. Here are some things we do to make sure we are able to travel all year long.
- We use travel for cheap hacks. I shared how we travel big on a small budget a few months ago. We use travel hacks and deals to travel for a lot cheaper. We have learned a lot over the years about how to travel for less. It does take a little more work, but it is worth it to us to be able to enjoy more time traveling. We would rather put in the work and save money and be able to go on multiple vacations each year than only be able to afford one vacation a year.
- We protect our travel investments. I have shared multiple times that it is important to protect our travel investments. We always purchase travel insurance for our vacations. It not only helps cover our expenses if we have to cancel (for covered reasons) but can help reimburse any costs we incur for delay of travel, lost luggage, and more. Knowing that we love to travel, we are excited that Allianz Travel Insurance offers an annual plan. An annual plan allows us to be more spontaneous in our travel and yet not worry about what will happen if something goes wrong. We love that any vacation we take is automatically covered. And because not everyone’s travel dreams are the same, Allianz has several options for their annual plans so you can find the plan that fits your travel style and needs.
- Not all travel costs a lot of money. If even the cheapest hotel rates have you searching under the couch cushions for change, start thinking about other types of travel that cost little to no money. Own a tent? Spend a weekend camping near a lake. Have a friend who lives near a national park- ask if you can crash at their house and then go hiking or exploring during the day. Check out sites to rent homes for cheap or RV resorts that rent out cabins. There are a lot of travel options that do not require a hotel.
- Check out deals in your home state. One thing our family did was purchase a state park pass. In our state it is $10 a year and you purchase it with your car registration. This has given us a lot of travel options that do not cost a lot of money. We can even do a “staycation” with this pass. Most states have a park pass for a very affordable price. Get out and explore your state.
- When all else fails- day trips. So maybe you have been bit by the travel bug but there is just no way you can get out of town for a long weekend right now. Look up places to go that are within a couple of hours from where you live. Maybe it is a cool museum, maybe it is a theme park. You might be surprised to find out what is in your area and how much fun you can have within a short drive. While it may not complete reset you like a long weekend or full week vacation will, it will give you a chance to explore and help tame that travel bug.
I am so grateful that my family gets to travel so often. I also love that we can do so without worry because of Allianz Travel Insurance and the annual plan. As our kids get older, we know that we will have more activities and commitments at home, so we are taking the time to travel now. I know that travel will create memories and bonds that will last a life time.
How do you travel more without breaking the bank and while working full time? Leave a comment letting me know.
Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post paid for by Allianz Travel Insurance, but as always, all opinions and words are my own.
Ana Kurland says
We recently moved to Idaho from Florida. We all miss going to Disney, but are willing to explore nearby. Could you suggest some places, within 2-4 hours of the Boise area, amenable to 11 yr. old twins and 2 adults? Preferably pet-friendly, as we’re hoping to adopt a dog. We have already done Idaho City, Ketchum, Jackson Hole, and Pocatello.
We are also considering renting an RV to test if we should buy one. Thanks!
Welcome to Idaho! First- buy a State Park Pass when you register your vehicle next time. It is only $10/year and will pay for itself in just 3 visits usually. There are lots of great State Parks. Some fun and interesting places to check out are the Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Craters of the Moon, Bogus Basin (not just for winter skiing anymore), I love Stanley Lake and the surrounding area, Jump Creek is a great morning hike and almost like a right of passage in the Boise Area, and of course the Boise Greenbelt is great for a day of walking, biking, etc. Oh, also City of Rocks and the Brunea Sand Dunes. If you head north, there is rafting and camping. The Starlight Mountain Theater in Garden Valley is a fun evening. I could go on and on, hopefully this gives you a starting point.
Ana M. Kurland says
Thanks! We’ve done the Greenbelt, Boise river rafting, and Craters of the Moon. I’ll check the other ones out. 😉