Hi friends – as many of you already know, I graduated university not too long ago and have been working full time in Toronto for the last few months. With 2018 ending, I’m already planning my vacation days for 2019.

Transitioning from student traveling (where you have lots of time, but a very limited budget) to traveling on vacation days from work (limited time, somewhat bigger budget) has been interesting from a trip planning perspective, and I’m sure it’s a transition a lot of people will go through (if they haven’t already). So here I am sharing what I’ve learned so far (and asking what it is that you’ve experienced too).

You prioritize time over money (within reason)

When it comes to flights, I used to be all about the cheapest fare. 12 hour layover? No problem, I have 6 months to travel so what’s another 12 hour wait in the airport? Now, with only 15 vacation days per year, I am prioritizing short travel times. I’d rather pay extra for a short layover, or even a direct flight if it’s reasonable.

Gotta love direct flights. Even just one layover can add so much travel time to your trip. But sometimes, direct flights are just too expensive to be worth it.
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Suddenly destinations close to home are very attractive

In a similar point as the above, I don’t want to spend hours and hours of precious vacation time in an airplane right now. I also don’t want to choose a far away destination and not be able to explore properly. So it looks like, at least as of now, I will not be leaving the continent in 2019. And that’s all fine to me.

Here’s an example: Chile is SUPER high on my bucket list, but to go for only a week? First, I’d spend half the time on a plane or in an airport, but even being there would just leave me craving more. Instead, I’m looking at a few places in Canada and the US that are close to home, and where I can feel better about leaving after a week, or even just going for a weekend! I’m sure after five days in the Rocky Mountains I’ll still be left wanting more, but this seems more reasonable than somewhere like Chile.

Bigger budgets!!

First, I actually have a regular income now, so I can allocate more dollars to travel. (As opposed to when I was a student, when I was pulling money together from all over the place – tutoring gigs, collecting cover at a bar and guiding in the summers).

Second, less time to travel means I can allocate more money to the trip on a per day basis. I don’t think this will translate to nicer hotels or eating out more, but instead I’ll do more guided experiences. Like next I go to New Zealand, I’ll go skydiving and do a glacier heli-hike (two things that weren’t feasible when I was living there as a student).

That being said, I do think that tighter budgets force you to get creative when traveling. This was one of my favourite days in Europe, and we only came across this incredible viewpoint because we couldn’t afford to take the gondola directly to the top of the mountain.

Plans become much more detailed

When you have infinite time, you can arrive at a destination and sort of figure it out as you go. This unfortunately doesn’t work as well when you have such a limited amount of time. You’re forced to make more upfront decisions to ensure you have enough time to do everything you want. I’ve also noticed I start planning a trip much further ahead. I don’t know why – I just like day dreaming of trips and planning them and doing research! I regularly open Google Maps at work and just explore around…. “Hmm, didn’t know there was an island there. Could be cool to explore? What does Google flights say? Are there Airbnb’s there?” And suddenly lunch is over and my slide show isn’t finished and you get the idea.

Also, from a practicality standpoint, planning ahead helps ensure I get the vacation days.

I remember coming to New Zealand and thinking “I’ll just figure it out as I go along”. This was easy when I had 5 months to explore the country (in all honesty though, there are still quite a few things I didn’t do and probably could have if I had planned everything a bit better). But oh well, I guess I’ll just have to go back!

So these are my observations, but what have you experienced? For those more seasoned in full-time-work-life-adulthood, what else can I expect?

 

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