Travel Without Limits, Thanks to Financial Independence
I’ve previously described how I reached financial independence and quit my job because I wanted more time for everything. A big part of that “everything” is travel. In addition to traveling more, I aspired to travel exactly the way I wanted. Of course, our current travel activity has slowed to a crawl due to COVID-19, and rightly so. Beyond current events, though, enhancing my travel freedom has become a priority the past several years. Here are a few examples of how I, and maybe you, can travel without limits.
#1. Our Schedule Is Wide Open
Since achieving financial independence, my family and I can travel whenever we want for as long as we want. We don’t need to ask for time off. Not ceding that control to someone else is refreshing. The simple fact we maintain that control over our lives and travel patterns empowers how we travel.
#2. More for Less
From a points and miles perspective, we more actively take advantage of award sweet spots and less popular travel days and seasons. Since we tend to avoid Friday and Sunday/Monday air travel, we obtain plenty of discounted/saver award space. Most of the time, we focus on low seasons in the areas we visit. We’ve noticed higher levels of service in hotels and attractions we visit, also. I can’t prove this is definitely due to low season travel, but not being caught up in the blur of high season travelers seems to help.
#3. Truly Taking It Easy
Because we aren’t tied down to traditional employment, limited time off doesn’t pressure us into overplanning our trips. We consequently don’t feel the need to have full agendas for each day on a jam-packed trip. Instead, we try to take it easy most days, with a few activities and plenty of downtime. And some days are all downtime. Some of our most valued family experiences and memories have come during our downtime. We take it easy more often since we can spread out our travel and activity goals over a broader timespan.
One example is how we plan and carry out our Disney World visits. We go on longer trips, with plenty of relaxed days at the parks and several off-days. We end up enjoying the relatively slower pace more. Disney World, of course, is an extreme example and isn’t for everybody, but the pattern can apply to any other travel situation.
For us, rushing around takes away from our experiences. We embrace the slowness. We now live in an area full of drawbridges, and I often catch myself enjoying the stop while the various boats pass by. I could have never fathomed embracing this in my previous life season.
#4. Spontaneity Lives While We Travel Without Limits
We can impulsively make stops or change plans when we don’t have tight schedules holding us back. Knowing we don’t have a required date to return home, we’ve added a day or two on trips here and there. On road trips (and all other trips), the Dad version of “making good time” doesn’t apply. Rather, we’ll take time to find that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that isn’t where the GPS told us. I enjoy looking at the cheesy brochure kiosks during rest stops. When we cross state lines, we love visiting welcome centers. Everyone has their own version of spontaneity; we definitely value ours while traveling.
#5. No Back To Work Blues
While some of you may not be able to identify with this one, it certainly applied to me as I aged. When I was working full-time, I increasingly dreaded the end of the vacation and going back to work. To mitigate this, I ended up incorporating “buffer days” at the end of my vacation. We would cut our travel short, arrive home a day (or more) earlier, have more time at home, and I would finally go back to work. The cliche “I need a vacation from my vacation” applied in these situations. I look back and can reflect on how seemingly silly this was, but they were genuine feelings at the time.
#6. The Joy Never Ends
Traveling (and living) exactly the way we want has brought more joy to every day. Stuff that previously annoyed us doesn’t irritate us as much, or sometimes at all, anymore. Traffic is one example. An unexpected surprise or mishap during travel is a minor inconvenience, at most, rather than a large domino that effects the rest of the trip. What used to be a mad dash to find an alternative, higher stress solution has often turned into a shrug and a realization it’s not a big deal. Things tend to work out the way they should.
Travel Without Limits – Conclusion
Those are just a few examples of how we travel without limits. And as I started describing here, living this way is attainable. Beyond financial independence, I encourage you to look at your own options for taking control of how you travel. Points and miles are a big part of that. I look forward to diving further into those points- and miles-fueled options in future articles!