How + Why I Find Time for Travel
One thing that I've heard a lot this year is "you're always away".
Anyone who follows my Instagram may be under the illusion that I'm constantly travelling, and indeed I feel like I have barely spent any time at home this year. Yet, far from being a globe-trotting travel blogger, I've only actually left the country three times in 2017. Back in February, I spent a long weekend in Oslo, in May I visiting Lisbon and Sao Miguel during a nine-day trip, and in the middle of the summer I flew to Mallorca for five days of sun. In between jetting off, I've managed quite a few weekends away within the confinement of our own coastline, squeezing in visits to London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Wales, Dorset, the Peak District, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and Norfolk. When you add that all up, I do appear to be away a lot. This is how I do it.
I have a pretty cushy work-life balance thanks to what I do. I only work three days a week and spend the rest of my time freelancing and blogging, so it's pretty easy to move my shifts around to enjoy the benefits of long weekends. I know not everyone has the luxury of being able to take time off whenever they like, but I will say this: for years before I went part-time, I worked for a company where I had the bare minimum of holidays that all had to be pre-planned and booked in at the beginning of January for the entire year. Coupled with a pretty dire paycheck, I only managed one holiday abroad per year (two if I was particularly thrifty) and didn't get much chance to even take long weekends. I also commuted for five hours each day, so my holiday time was usually spent relaxing and recovering from a grueling daily routine. I feel like I'm overdue some holidays!
I fell into travel writing almost accidentally (that's another story to tell, if you're interested) and as I begun writing about the world, I realised that I had barely seen any of it. In order to get more work and to write more about my own personal travel experiences, I had to get out there and explore. Suddenly I was making endless lists of places that I wanted to write about, constantly adding to the list as I discovered more destinations through my work.
I still don't really have the time or money to visit far-flung destinations (although I'd love to travel long haul at some point next year), so I decided that I needed to discover as much of Europe as possible. We're so lucky to have so many different countries and cultures right on our doorstep, accessible with short cheap flights, that we really should take advantage of this more.
When planning my travels, I always look about six months ahead, usually booking flights about three months in advance. I like to have at least two holidays booked at any one time, to give myself something to look forward to, but also to be able to pitch ideas to editors in advance or to brainstorm ideas for articles so I know what to look out for when I'm there.
Ultimately, the dream would be being commissioned to fly out to a destination specifically to work on an article, but that's a long, long way off. I pay for almost all of my travel myself (the exception being an increasing amount of collaborations with hotels and other accommodations) so I need to be savvy when planning my trips.
Sometimes, I become obsessed with a destination and can't stop thinking about it until the flights are booked (as was the case with Iceland, the Azores and Morocco) but other times I just browse flights around rough dates until I find a bargain (Mallorca and Puglia). My pre-planned adventures are usually those that I also see as research trips, building up a bank of images and as much knowledge as possible when I'm there in order to try to pitch ideas to magazines and websites when I return. The spontaneous trips are usually 'real' holidays; time to relax and unwind.
The relaxing is just as important as the exploring for me. I've learnt that I can burn myself out if I don't stop to take a break. After all, I can't just book a week's holiday when I work for myself, I have to try to squeeze in the work when I'm travelling or when I return home to ensure that I'm getting paid that month. Sometimes I just need to take a few days off and sit by the side of a pool.
This is where the long weekends come in - not only are they great for not having to book holiday days from my part-time job, but they ensure that I still have days spare in the week for my freelancing work. It's a win-win situation.
Aside from work, I've found that travelling is actually my preferred way of spending my free time. I'd rather wander around a new city, swim in the sea or hop on a whale watching boat that sit on the sofa ordering takeout and watching Netflix. That's just how my brain is wired - I like to get out, see new things and take photos. Those are the things that make me happy.
I also can't imagine spending an entire year at home in England. While there are many things I love about living in this country, there are so many other incredible places that are so easy to visit. More than anything, I love to be outdoors, especially by the sea, and I tend to focus most of my adventures around this desire, with a few city breaks scattered in for good measure.
I'd love to hear about your attitude to travelling. Comment below to let me know how you find time to fit travel into your routine, and how much of a priority you place on it.
The photos in this post are all from a road trip around northern France back in 2013 - look how short my hair was!