On average, Quebecers employed full-time enjoy 15.8 vacation days per year, allowing them the opportunity to travel, among other things. However, this is a small amount of vacation time compared with our cousins in France, where people employed full-time enjoy an average of 31.7 paid vacation days per year. (Click here to find out which country has the smallest average number of vacation days!)
For those who love to travel, two weeks of vacation each year is simply not enough time to really pursue their passion. Sure, it’s easy to take a few vacation days to enjoy an all-inclusive trip to a Caribbean resort – but if one is interested in actually exploring an exotic locale, a minimum of three weeks is needed for a single trek!
For example, if you want to explore a far-off region such as the mountains of Himachal Pradesh in India, or want to enjoy a spiritual retreat at a Buddhist monastery in Punakha, Bhoutan, you need to factor in at least 40 hours of travel time (when departing from Montreal) each way! This adds up to four full days of travel, and you haven’t even started exploring yet. Knowing this, it’s inconceivable to undertake a serious exploration without at least three weeks set aside for the trip.
The big question is: if you have a wandering spirit, how can you live out your dreams of adventure with only two weeks of vacation per year?
Here are some suggestions to consider that can help you find the time to take the trip of your dreams.
Log some extra hours
If you have the opportunity to log some extra hours at your job, it will likely be the easiest way to grow your banked vacation time. Imagine if, every week for a year, you worked one extra hour, for example on every Monday. At the end of the year, you’d have more than one week of extra vacation saved up! One extra hour of work per week will be practically unnoticeable, and you’ll benefit from an unforgettable voyage at the end.
Work during your vacation
Here’s the idea: You take a long vacation (say, four to six weeks) but work remotely at your job every other week while you’re away. For example, weeks one, three and five, you spend exploring the country where you are; weeks two, four and six are spent working remotely for your employer.
This way of organizing a vacation has its advantages, especially for those travelers who are focused on “being elsewhere” above all else. Here are some of the hard advantages of this approach:
- You get to be in a foreign land for six weeks, despite cashing in only three weeks’ vacation time.
- The reality is that constant travel and exploration can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. Alternating vacation weeks with remote-work weeks can help make your trip much more enjoyable.
- Because you will be tied to a work schedule during your trip, you can take the time to explore the region as if you live there. This will totally alter your experience of the place and force you away from the well-worn tourist zones.
- Being away from work only one week at a time will allow you to stay relatively up-to-date with your work, and will allow you to enjoy your time away without slowing the progress of projects or your colleagues’ work.
Of course, in order to work remotely, you need to have a job in which remote work is acceptable and feasible. If you’re a mechanic, construction worker or electrician, it’s obviously impossible to work remotely. But if you’re job primarily involves using a computer, and you can access necessary servers from a distance, you can work remotely without a problem! Most companies have systems in place to allow employees to work remotely, allowing them to work as if they were present in the office.
You don’t need to worry about finding an internet connection while on vacation: WiFi networks are readily available in most countries. In the rare case that you don’t have access to WiFi, you can simply buy a SIM card for your cellular phone that includes an internet data allowance, and connect it to your computer using the connection-sharing feature on your phone. This will allow you to have internet access practically anywhere. The price of SIM cards varies depending on how much data you need and the country in which you’re buying it.
Obviously, your boss will need to be comfortable with this plan and authorize you to work – and vacation – in this way!
Take a year sabbatical
Taking a year-long sabbatical is another option (for those fortunate enough) to enjoy a long trip overseas. A sabbatical provides an opportunity for absolute freedom: no work and no long-term plan beyond exploring, pure and simple. Many people in their late thirties or early forties decide to take a sabbatical once they realize that they are in need of a very long vacation.
Taking a year-long sabbatical to live out one’s dream is a great idea, but it takes a lot of planning to pull off. Many organizations offer employees with seniority the opportunity to take a sabbatical, with the guarantee that they can return to their jobs afterwards. But often, people who take sabbaticals do so without any guarantee of their job being available for them when they return, and essentially give up their seniority entirely.
Here are some factors to consider if you would like to take a sabbatical to travel:
- You will need to save up a lot of money, since you likely won’t have a source of revenue during your travels. Count on needing at least $20,000 for a round-the-world trip in relative comfort.
- You will have to let go of certain things. If you currently rent an apartment, you will have to give notice of termination of your lease and put all of your belongings into storage; alternatively, you can sublet your place to someone else. If you own your home, it’s strongly suggested to rent it out while you are away in order to keep paying down the mortgage. You could also choose to sell the home.
- You’ll need someone to pick up your mail in Quebec while you’re away, whether it be a friend or a member of your family, and you’ll need to be able to reach them to find out important information from back home.
- When you come back from your trip, you’ll need at least two weeks to “come down” and to minimize post-vacation depression. As you no doubt can imagine, spending a year travelling around the world only to return to a 9-to-5 grind can impact one’s morale.
- You also need to be able to count on some help from your loved ones when you return, since you may not have a home for a while – it takes time to get settled again.
Become a digital nomad
Becoming a digital nomad is the ideal solution for those who love travelling and feel the need to be on the move. This is the option for people who want to live out of their suitcases for long periods of time, and who want to avoid routine at all costs by moving from location to location.
To summarize, a digital nomad is a full-time traveler who continues to work remotely with no fixed location, whether as a freelancer or as a salaried employee for an organization. The digital nomad lifestyle has become increasingly popular with young people, and many employers now allow their employees to work in this way. The digital nomad lifestyle started becoming very popular around 2010, and now the trend is at its peak. Thanks to the availability of high-speed internet practically anywhere in the world, digital nomads can now roam the planet while working to pay their expenses.
Here are some things to consider if you want to become a digital nomad:
- There are two ways to become a digital nomad: either persuade your employer to let you work remotely from anywhere in the world, or find a job that allows you to work primarily remotely.
- Except for those couples who choose to adopt the nomadic lifestyle, being a digital nomad is best suited for single and/or solitary people. Also keep in mind that as a nomad, you will often be alone, and travelling from country to country can make it difficult to develop new relationships.
- You will probably have to adapt to the working hours of your employer, no matter where you happen to be: for example, if you work for a company based in Canada but you’re travelling in Japan, be prepared to participate in meetings from your location at 11pm.
- Obviously, the digital nomad lifestyle is difficult to pull off for people with children, but it is possible to take your family on the road and live as a nomad, depending on the flexibility of your employer.
- You will have complete freedom of movement. If you’re in Turkey and suddenly get the urge to head to Nepal, all you have to do is buy a plane ticket and you’re on your way!
- Wherever you go, you will be more of a “traveler” than a “tourist”. In practical terms, this means you will probably skip the “must-see” tourist attractions in favor of discovering a region’s hidden gems.
- Here is a list of professions that are accommodating to working remotely. Among others, these include programmers/developers; accountants; language teachers; writers/editors/translators; customer service representatives; designers and more.
Take a vacation on your own dime
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Quebecers enjoy an average of 15.8 days of vacation per year. But it’s important to specify that this refers to paid vacation days; it’s always possible for an employee (with the blessing of their employer) to take additional, unpaid vacation time. If you’re comfortable enough financially to be able to do without a week or two of your salary, go for that extended vacation!
When it comes to travelling for extended periods of time, no matter what method you decide to use, by making an effort you can figure out a way to realize the trip of your dreams. Life is too short – and the world much too big – to not follow your dreams. If your current job doesn’t allow you to live out your dream of travelling far and wide, don’t hesitate to change jobs to gain some hard-earned freedom!