When I first started working, I never took any time off. I looked back at my time tracking recently and saw that I even logged hours on Thanksgiving! What was I thinking?
I wish I could go back in time and realize that working holidays and taking no days off wasn’t going to make me happier. I thought by having more money (I was working hourly) I would be much better off in the long run, but I was burned out.
This year, I finally took a trip with my girlfriend. This is after about 3 years on the job, taking virtually no days off. It was a bit spontaneous, in that we had talked about going to Europe for a while and then one day she saw some cheap flights for a few months down the road and we just booked them. We ended up visiting 4 cities in about 10 days and it was a well needed break. Two weeks after we got home we booked another cheap flight ($400 roundtrip!) to Switzerland and Italy.
Why I like to travel
For me, and I’m sure many other people with the travel bug, travel is a way to build new perspectives of the world. You are put into uncomfortable situations if you’re in a country that doesn’t speak your native language and you often have to improvise. I like the challenge of navigating a new place and seeing new things. When I get home from a trip, I feel refreshed and have this new energy.
I grew up traveling a lot. My dad traveled for work every few weeks, and a few times a year we would take vacations. It’s the thing I look forward to the most throughout the year. I save up all my money and rarely spend on anything, my girlfriend would say I’m frugal. But I will spend to go on a trip and feel no regrets.
I’m glad my parents instilled a love of travel in me. We would go to other countries rather than visit places within the US. I feel that traveling in the US is fun (we’re even thinking of doing a road trip at some point) but to really get the most out of traveling you need to be outside the country in an unfamiliar place.
One of the main reasons I love traveling is because of the language and culture. I studied abroad in Hong Kong and did some traveling in Taiwan and mainland China for a while. I had learned Mandarin and was glad to be able to communicate just a little, because the locals treated me much differently once they realized I knew even a few words.
I don’t like doing group tours or hitting the tourist spots too often. My trips involve me waking up in the morning and walking around until it gets dark out. I’ll jump on public transport and go someplace new, point at something at a stall and try it (I did this a lot in Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Experience over things
I don’t know when a switch flipped in my head to stop buying things and instead spend that money on travel. It’s really made me much happier. My girlfriend and I have done this trip already, we have another scheduled, and another after that. We went to a concert last year and bought annual passes to a theme park nearby. We don’t really spend money on things because we both want to save for experiences.
Travel isn’t for everyone though. There are some people who may get frustrated too easily if they can’t sit at a restaurant and order something in English, or they want to stick within countries similar to theirs. I’m not going to advise that everyone needs to travel, but everyone should try going out of the country at least once. I think an experience like that makes us all more open minded to things we might have been closed off to before, and we gain a new perspective on our lives. I can’t wait to get out again soon.