It’s the start of a brand new year, which can only mean one thing…. it’s holiday planning time!
Part-Time Passport is all about balancing full-time work with regular travel, so as the new year rolls in, and new adventures await, here are a few hacks to help you prioritise your time and money, so that you can travel more (and more sustainably) in 2020. Happy Travel Planning!
Maximise your paid leave:
(This one is aimed mainly at my fellow Brits, as it relates specifically to U.K. holiday allowance).
Tacking annual leave on to bank holidays is one of the best ways to maximise the time you have off for travelling. This is hardly a revelation, I hear you say.
Well, I promised you a hack and a hack you shall have! 2020 is an unusual year in the U.K. as the early May bank holiday has been moved to a Friday to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. This means that booking 2 weeks off in between the two May bank holidays (i.e. 11th-22nd May) will give you a whopping 18 days off for just 10 days of annual leave. Plus, travelling over a longer period of time is much more eco-friendly than taking lots of short flights. We’re going to take advantage of the extra time by driving across to mainland Europe with the pup, rather than flying!
There’s plenty more opportunities to double up on your leave throughout the rest of the year. For example, 4 days of annual leave over Easter (either 6th-9th April or 14th-17th April) will give you 10 days to play with, whilst adding just one extra day to the August bank holiday (31st August) will give you 4 days off; perfect for a micro-break.
Fill your calendar with day trips, micro-breaks and weekends away:
I used to associate travel with airports and far-flung destinations but the more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of my country. Forget airport queues, jet-lag and mozzy spray – there’s a lot to be said for exploring your own backyard and there’s no better way to keep your carbon footprint down, than by staying closer to home in between those longer vacations.
Make a wish-list of places you want to visit at the beginning of the year and work out which you can see in a day, a weekend, or longer (check out your local, regional or national tourism board for inspiration). Depending on where you live, you’ll probably find that most destinations can be explored without having to take a single day off.
2020 is a great year to explore the U.K. and, with Brexit looming, micro-breaks are becoming ever more popular. It’s ‘Year of the Outdoors’ in Wales, with plenty of opportunities to discover new scenic wonders and wild adventures. Alternatively, hop on and off the Great West Way, a new touring route connecting Bristol to London; or head to Scotland to test out the brand new Heart 200 route – a 200-mile scenic route around central Scotland – or the impossibly beautiful North Coast 500 road-trip around the Highlands.
Budget, budget, budget
I’m often asked how I afford to travel so much and the simple answer is that I budget for travel, as I would for any other financial outgoing. Every month, I put a set amount of my salary straight into savings to fund my wanderlust addiction. This requires a bit of forward planning at the beginning of each year, and a rough idea of where I want to go, but having the funds set aside stops money being a barrier to regular travel.
I always travel on a low to moderate budget, which means I can afford to travel regularly, rather than in luxury. To keep costs down, I always research affordable restaurants and free things to do in advance of any trip – browsing travel blogs is always a great way to find budget destination guides. You can read some of mine right here.
Keep an open mind:
If you’ve browsed my blog before, you may have noticed that many of the destinations I’ve visited aren’t “obvious” travel choices. In fact, I’ve never been to the likes of Rome, Venice or Barcelona… and yet I’ve found myself travelling to Gdansk in Poland, Genoa in Italy, and the Northern mountains of Montenegro – places most people (myself included, before I visited!) know absolutely nothing about.
There’s something truly wonderful about discovering up-and-coming places before they hit the big-time. And the great thing is that everything about your trip works out so much cheaper. From transport to food, you’ll normally find that avoiding the hot-spots means it’s much more affordable to travel… vis-a-vis you can travel much more! Plus, getting off the beaten path means you’ll avoid contributing to over-tourism in areas that are buckling under pressure.
Fly Me Anywhere is still one of my favourite tools for finding the cheapest destinations to visit. Just remember to offset your flight emissions, if you’re travelling regularly – or even better, see if you can travel by rail or road and enjoy the scenery as you go.
Make a plan… but be flexible!
The downside of having a job is that you can’t just take off whenever you like or for as long as you like. That’s why planning is so important. Just jotting down your travel priorities at the beginning of the year and booking your annual leave makes it much more likely that you’ll follow through on your plans!
I tend to start by deciding on one or two places that I know I definitely want to visit and researching the best time of year to go. Once I have these in the diary, I then plot out any U.K. weekend breaks and must-do day-trips, spreading them out across the year as much as possible. I’ll then earmark a number of free weekends and dates for potential travel and look out for the best deals, as they come up. Signing up to flight alerts and subscriptions like Jack’s Flight Club and Cheap European Trains on Trainline means that you can monitor the best deals and be ready to roll, as soon as something catches your eye.
Travelling with a full-time job and short on time? Check out my short-break itineraries and destination guides here.