The Art of Balancing Home Life with Travel

Have the travel bug but maintain a location-specific profession? You're not alone.

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It seems like everyone these days are quitting their jobs, selling everything they own, and taking off to travel the world full-time. While this lifestyle may seem amazing, there are some people who just can’t or don’t want to give up their home life entirely for the nomadic way of life. Whether it’s a job that doesn’t allow you to work remotely, financial constraints, or simply the desire to have a home base with a more stable schedule, the wandering nomad lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But just because you can’t travel full-time doesn’t mean you can’t take extended vacations around the world.

I love to travel and, while the nomadic lifestyle has its appeals, it’s neither something that is possible nor something I want at the moment. But just because I have a full-time job in one location and haven’t sold all my worldly possessions, doesn’t mean I don’t want to take off for a month of backpacking around Indonesia or go trekking in Peru.

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Adventuring in Indonesia

 

Putting All My Eggs in The Travel Basket

There was a time when I saved every penny for my travel fund. I would say no to activities at home due to cost; I made severe financial cut backs in every area I could; I’d politely decline invitations from my friends for dinner and drinks because the money I would spend equalled the cost of a few nights at a hostel somewhere in Southeast Asia. I picked up overtime shifts at work to increase my travel fund, thus limiting the amount of time I had to spend with friends. I worked my butt off to increase my travel savings.

While I was proud of myself for having the discipline and drive to stick to this goal, I soon became unhappy with my home life. I didn’t see my friends very often, I was saving all my precious money and vacation for my travels and I was getting burnt out from work. All this for one or two trips a year? It just wasn’t sustainable in the long term.

Wanting to do it all – travel and have a good home life – has been a challenge to balance. It’s something I’ve worked hard at over the last few years. It’s a difficult task given that I have a limited income and time off work. If I put all my resources into travel, I suffer at home. If I put everything into my house and activities at home, I don’t have any money to travel.

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The Beautiful Komodo Islands

So how do you get to do both? This really is something only you can figure out based on your job, income and vacation time. But here are some suggestions.

 

Finding The Balance: Time vs Money

First, there are two things that must be balanced in your home/travel life: time and money.

Since I work a steady, full-time job I have limited vacation each year. If I were to take all 4 weeks at once for a month of travel, I would have to go 11 months without taking a day off. While that one month of travel would be amazing, my home life will take a hit in return. Without any more vacation time, I can’t take a week off work to go camping in the summer or snowboarding in the winter. It leaves very little room for spontaneity in my home life. When I tried this, I was left feeling very restricted and frustrated with my home life which leads to resentment.

Spreading out my vacation, on the other hand, makes my entire year enjoyable, both at home and while travelling. Rather than one big trip, I take 2 or 3 shorter trips abroad. By doing this I’m able to take part in activities at home and can take a day off here and there.

Now for money. There never seems to be enough of it! As I mentioned before, I’m very conscientious of where my money goes. While I have cut back on my Starbucks Lattes, I still treat myself to one every now and then. I’ve read all the articles on how to save money for travel and while they are wonderful tips, it leaves your home life in the gutters. Splurge now and then and allow yourself to indulge at home, not only while travelling.

I’ve made myself a monthly Starbucks/out for dinner/entertainment budget for each month. Yes, that money could go to my travel savings but I need to enjoy my life at home too!

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Icelandic Ice Climbing

 

Two Different Work Schedules and How to Maximize Your Money & Vacation

Now I’m lucky when it comes to vacation. I work as a Paramedic which allows some flexibility in my schedule. Though I get 4 weeks vacation, I have ways of increasing this to at least double. Working overtime shifts is an option for me and I have the choice to cash them in for money or save the hours for vacation. I can also swap shifts with my co-workers. But my work has some down sides, like working holidays and weekends. If I’m scheduled to work a holiday but want time off to spend with family, I use up some of my vacation (rather than using it for a trip). It’s all about priorities.

Something else I need to consider is that if I work on my day off, it makes for a very busy work week and I give up activities at home. Due to my work schedule, I’ve been able to take, on average, 8 weeks’ vacation per year (but I must work for it!). My boyfriend Kelly, on the other hand, works a steady 9-5 job and has 4 weeks’ vacation a year. He doesn’t have the freedom and flexibility that my schedule allows and can’t readily gain more vacation or money when he needs it.

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Wandering in Historic Quebec City

Some solutions that he’s come up with include planning vacations over a holiday weekend, thus getting an extra vacation day “for free”. His work often sends him on business trips throughout the USA. While in a new city for work, he often stays for the weekend to take in the sites and explore a new place. All this is done at very little added cost to him, both in terms of vacation and money. Another option that worked out for Kelly was simply talking to his boss. Last time he was up for a raise he asked for an extra week of vacation instead. Surprisingly, his employer agreed!

Ultimately, how you manage your money and vacation time is up to you. There are so many different work schedules out there, you need to look at your situation. Find out what your options are from your employer; asked about working overtime in exchange for vacation; ask if you can get extra time off instead of a raise if that’s what you want. The answer will always be no unless you ask!

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The Famous Charles Bridge in Prague

 

In the End

Finding that balance between home life and travel is a challenge, to say the least. Everyone’s situation is unique and you must take a long hard look at your own situation. Decide where your priorities lie and make a plan that allows you to enjoy your life at home and gives you ample opportunity to travel. Be careful not to put all your resources into one and nothing into the other. That won’t make for a very balanced life!

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Wandering in Chile

The Sherpa Team sends a huge thank you to guest blogger Jill for her insight into what else travellers can see in Agra. You can follow her adventures through her website Adventure J, and you connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Do you want to contribute to Sherpa? Have a blog idea we should cover? Check out our Initiatives Page and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!