It is one of our great challenges, particularly for Americans with little vacation time — creating time in our lives to travel. Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, has a variety of ideas for individuals who are determined to hit the road.
Short of simply asking for more vacation time, many people negotiate long-term leaves of absence or sabbaticals (paid or unpaid, depending upon the situation) to enable travel. Others fine-tune their careers so that they are doing seasonal or contract work, which frees them up to travel between work engagements. Still others will quit a job and then work a long-term travel stint into their life before accepting a new job.
With the advent of new communication technologies it has also become possible to adopt what has been called a “global mobility lifestyle” – which allows you to redesign your work life in such a way that it can mix in with extended travel.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about work, and making time for travel?
The biggest misconception about work is that you have to spend most of your life doing it.
I’ve spent the last four years traveling through more than 25 countries interviewing people who have automated income or escaped the office, often without quitting their jobs. Some of them negotiate “working from the home office” while actually trekking in Africa or touring in Europe, satellite phones and Quad-band Treos in hand. Others create simple virtual businesses that enable them to quit the grind and take one-to-three-month “mini-retirements” a few times per year…
Once you control the most valuable currencies in the digital age – mobility and time – $40,000 can get you more luxury lifestyle than a $500,000 per year investment banker who can’t escape the office.
Many people often can’t stop thinking about work minutiae, even when they’re far away from the traditional office setting. How do you get your mind, and not just your body, out of the office?
In the experience of those I’ve interviewed, it takes two to three months just to unplug from work routines and become aware of how much we distract ourselves with constant motion. Can you have a two-hour dinner with Spanish friends without getting anxious? Can you get accustomed to a small town where all businesses take a siesta for two hours in the afternoon? If not, you need to ask: why?
Learn to slow down. If you create a mobile lifestyle, whether through a remote work arrangement or entrepreneurship, escaping the “too-weak vacation” world is as simple as using a few common technologies and believing it can be done.