Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time and Money for Travel

Ask anyone who likes to travel why they don't travel as much as they would like, and the answer usually comes down to two factors: not enough time or not enough money. The time factor is very real, particularly for North Americans who are in conventional jobs. We tend to get far shorter vacations than, for instance, Western Europeans. And in these very difficult economic times, many people are afraid to take even the amount of vacation time to which they are entitled, for fear that they will be regarded as not being "team players."For older or retired people, the problem is usually money. Now they have the time to travel, but their pensions don't stretch that far. Health issues can also be a consideration for the senior crowd.I can't claim to have the solution for everyone, but I can tell you that if you are determined to travel there is usually a way. Don't put off that dream trip until you retire--find a way to take it now. Many things can happen in a period of 30 or 40 years that can make that trip impossible or less desirable--changes of government, health problems, environmental degradation, even climate shifts.When I was in my 20s I did what financial planners say you should never do, raided my retirement accounts to fund trips and education, and I don't regret it at all. Travelling when you are young is easier than it will be later on. Even if you are in a career path like medicine or law where you are required to keep your nost ot the grindstone for a number of years, there are often ways to combine travel with professional experience--medical volunteer opportunities, international law conferences, etc.In a business career it is very desirable now to have fluent command of a foreign language, and few employers will look askance at a year or more spent travelling if it allowed you to acquire fluent Mandarin, Arabic, or even the more usual Spanish, French or German. Even with the worldwide spread of English as a second language, those who can converse at a high level in one or more foreign languages can command a premium in the job market.Teaching has always offered plentiful opportunities for travel, via academic conferences, long bacations, and teaching English abroad, and for the most part that continues to be true.The lack of money problem is a little harder to solve, but with research and determination you should be able to keep travel costs under control. I will try in the next year to offer you some new and interesting ways to save money on travel, and I wish you all a Happy New Year.
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