Freeing Up Time for Travel

Finding the time to travel when you are working is not always easy, especially if you are in the States or another country that doesn't appreciate the positive value of vacation on worker productivity.  Keep your chin up, because a few places are even worse.  In Japan for example, demonstrating the ability to suffer graciously is the best way to get ahead.  If that describes your situation, I can only recommend relocating permanently at the first opportunity.  ;)

Without further ado, here are my strategies to free up time for travel.

Do a Great Job at Work

Consider a study abroad program, e.g.
Four months trekking thru Nepal.
This one is simple enough to sound dumb, but it makes all the difference in the world when asking for extended time off.  Good bosses will want to keep great employees happy, to the extent they are able.

Pool Sick & Vacation Time

At many employers you may accumulate away time for two years and then go on a single longer vacation.  If this is not possible, consider the next idea...

Take Your Vacation...

Then an extra week or two unpaid afterward. Since you'll be traveling cheaply, this is not the burden it might seem.  Just save up a bit in advance.

Consider Project-Based Work

IT/Dev contracting and VFX, are examples of project-based work.  Work hard six months on a project and then off to the next one.  Every third or fourth cycle, take six months to yourself.

Get Set Up For Tele-Commuting

If you can comfortably do your job from a laptop anywhere in the world, you'll have one less thing to worry about when the time comes to make your move.

Quit Every Three Years

Yes, you heard that right.  Mainly a US-centric strategy, when the strategies above won't work.  Many employers at this stage still won't let you take a month off at once.  This is your opportunity to take six or twelve instead! 

To be honest, I've found that after three years I don't learn as much at the job as I used to.  It may be a good time to move on and broaden your experience.  The traditional idea that we'll all work forty years at the same job and retire is long over.  As companies don't have loyalties to workers any longer, don't make the mistake of granting too much loyalty to them.

Important—make sure to leave with plenty of notice and on the best terms possible.  You never know what the situation will be next year when you return from the road.  You might end up working with a colleague at his new startup, or at your old employer at a new, higher salary.  It happens ... assuming you you did a good job as mentioned above.

Better yet! 

Skol!  A Gringo in Rio after a particularly harsh downsizing.
Choose to get laid off in a downsizing wave if you can swing a nice severance package.  A few months pay in an expensive locale will procure a nice furnished apartment overlooking the beach in Latin America or Asia for a long time.  At least until your visa wears out, in which case you may move on to the next country.

Lest you think this is a once in a lifetime possibility, know that this geek has now pulled it off twice, hehe.

What are your tips for freeing up time?  With time out of the way, we'll proceed to the next travel obstacle in a future installment.

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