Every time I tell someone I’m traveling internationally, their first question is always “Are you traveling for work?” I work in nonprofit, so no I don’t travel internationally for work. Not that it’s impossible, but it would be highly unlikely.
When people ask me where I’m going and I say, Turkey, Guatemala, Morocco, etc., 9 times out of 10 I’m met with a why? It’s usually a why are you going there? And to those people I answer back, why not?
Even when I go out of the country, I get the same thing from strangers. Is it so hard to imagine someone wanting to go some place, where they have never been, just to go? Is it so wrong to want to see the world in my 30s before kids comes into the picture and traveling becomes a more arduous task?
One of the reasons I love working in nonprofit is because of the flexibility it allows. I like having a set schedule and being able to take off time without feeling guilty for doing so. Of course there are busy periods, but let’s face it I’m not doing anything that is saving lives so if I want to get away, nothing is stopping me from doing so.
When I was younger I’d just let my vacation days accrue because I wanted to get paid out in the event I moved on to another job. Now, as soon as I accrue more days best believe I’m going somewhere.
I remember taking a trip to Spain with my parents after B-School. I was 25 at the time and they sponsored half of it but that trip was over $3,000. Now, even though I could realistically afford to take a trip that costs that much, I wouldn’t want to. All of my international flights/trains combined from last year (and this year) don’t even total $3000.
If you’re wondering here’s what I paid in 2015: Brussels & Amsterdam $645, Milan & Marrakech $593, and Panama $417. Those prices not only include the airfare to and from the US, but also train fares and flights to other cities/countries while there. As far as hotels, I had a ton of SPG (Starwood) points from our wedding in 2014 so it was enough to cover hotel stays in Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, and Marrakech. (Quick plug: I highly recommend the Starwood American Express. If you use it as your everyday card the points add up quickly, leading you to a ton of free nights.) The best part of using points for our stays is that when we arrive all we had to worry about food, tours, and entertainment.
I truly wish I’d known about travel hacks such as travel credit cards and flight deals/glitches sooner, it would have shown me how affordable traveling really is. Last year, I got some decent deals but after booking Guatemala for $124 and Colombia for $240, I’ve finally seen the light.
Anyway, I say this not to say travel is for everyone but for me, I enjoy working hard to be able to take getaways every once in a while to free my mind and explore new places. So the next time someone asks me if I’m traveling for work, I’m going to tell them no I work to travel.