Everyone knows that I love to travel. I have been to 36 countries in my life and I try to venture out to a diverse array of destinations every year. Over the last 6 years, I have averaged 60K miles of flying per year. And last year alone, I went on 22 overnight trips ranging from a 1-night campout at Point Reyes National Seashore to a 9-night trip to Italy. I explored 4 countries outside of the US, 2 of which were new to me.
People always ask me how I find the time and money to travel so much while working a full-time job. It is certainly not an easy thing to do and I definitely make sacrifices along the way to fulfill my need to explore new places.
First a little background on myself. I work in corporate finance for a midsized technology company in downtown San Francisco. That in itself provides a lot of perks. SF work hours tend to be much more flexible than in other parts of the US. Although I work standard 9-5 hours in the office 95%+ of the time, I do have the freedom to work remotely when needed. And although my current company does not offer unlimited PTO, I do get enough PTO to feel like I have the freedom and flexibility to do what I want outside of work.
On a personal note, I will be 36 years old in a couple weeks, but do not have many life commitments other than my work and my girlfriend. Luckily, she loves to travel and explore as well. I have no mortgage, kids, pets and all of my family members are healthy and happy. I do work on a number of side hustles that generate some additional income for myself, but I do not need to dedicate too many hours to them each week. Fewer life commitments mean more disposable income to spend on travel. I realize that I am in the minority when it comes to the number of life commitments, but this is the big reason I have the time and money to travel as much as I do.
When it comes to the financial aspect of traveling, I tend to travel cheaply. I research flight prices on Google Flight at least every other day, if not daily, so I have learned what constitutes a great deal to numerous destinations around the world. The Google Explore Destination feature is very helpful in quickly discovering cheap destinations around the world for a given time frame. If I come across a great price to a destination that interests me then I will find a way to travel on those dates. I will try to fly out on Friday afternoons and return on Sunday nights or Monday mornings but will be flexible with my itinerary if it offers a significant discount on the fare price.
I will also take advantage of various credit card travel bonuses and will maximize my point accumulation so I can earn free hotel nights and flights. I currently recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card as the best card to carry because of the numerous travel perks that it offers and the point multipliers on certain types of purchases.
It is easy enough to fly to tons of destinations over a weekend from San Francisco. West coast destinations in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies and Southern California are only 1 to 2 hours away. But I am not opposed to traveling long distances and crossing multiple times zones for a weekend trip. For example, I could take a red-eye to NYC on Friday night, get in early Saturday morning and have a full-day of exploring on Saturday and Sunday, after which I could fly back to SF on Monday morning leaving at 6am and landing at 9am, so that I can get into the office at a reasonable time. I may sacrifice some good sleep during the trip, but at least I got to explore an amazing city.
A more extreme example of a weekend trip I am considering is the following itinerary to Iceland.
This flight is only $266 and departs after work on Thursday and lands in Rejkjavik on Friday morning. I would work remotely Friday and then have Friday night to Sunday lunchtime to explore Reykjavik. Most people would say this itinerary is crazy and that they would only go if they could spend 5+ days in Iceland given the length of the flight. That is a completely reasonable point of view, but I also know people cherish their PTO days and tend to want to do longer vacations. But longer vacations means you have to allocate your free time across fewer destinations. I put a priority on seeing more places, so I am willing to sacrifice my sleep and body to travel in such a manner. I believe it is better to experience a place for only a couple days than to not experience it at all.
My hope for 2018 is to do another 20 trips ranging from LA to Banff, Germany, and Croatia. Many people are intrigued by the places I travel to, but I tell them there is nothing stopping them from traveling more than they currently are. They just need to reprioritize their time, money, sleep, etc in a manner that will open them up to a whole new whole.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
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