How I stuck to my New Year resolution of travelling to 12 places in 12 months, and you can too!

At the start of 2017, I made a resolution to travel more and explore one new place every month as a part of my #12TravelTales series. With a full time 9-9 job (yes, I end up working 10-12 hours a day), I have to admit that it was demanding. But it’s not impossible! I ended up going to over 12 destinations across 4 countries, and it was the most incredible experience ever. Read more about it here.

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Every year we end up whining over our unused leaves, and envying the Instagram feeds of our nomad friends. #12TravelTales was all about inspiring people to seek diverse experiences instead of taking only one vacation a year. What if I tell you it’s possible by taking pretty much the same number of leaves as you would for an annual international vacation? I took only 10 leaves in the year of 2017 to make #12TravelTales happen. What this means is that you’ll be taking shorter breaks and doing quick getaways. Worry not! They will still relax and rejuvenate you while giving you an opportunity to discover several eclectic places. Now isn’t that a win-win?

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Here are 10 hacks that can help make your travel goals a reality while keeping your day job!

Hack 1: Plan, but don’t over-plan and go with the flow

Take things slow- you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with having your annual travel plan all chalked out. Break it down and plan your travel for the next three months. Establish a good equation with your employer to get your leaves approved. Taking frequent trips will mean you won’t have the liberty to plan everything down to a tee. It’s good to be impromptu once in a while. This won’t go down well with the OCD folks, but let the place surprise you. Planning trips can end up being tiresome when you’re doing it every month, so take things easy and make sure you’re having fun!

Travel plannerPicture courtesy: http://www.hardtofind.com.au

Hack 2: Set up a travel fund

If you’re really serious about travelling, it’s best to set up a separate bank account for your travels, and contribute a set amount to the account every month. This will help you plan your expenses accordingly and also cut down on unnecessary ones. No more impulsive purchases from online shopping sites.

Hack 3: Reap the benefits of off-season travel

Off-season travel not only gets you awesome deals on air tickets and hotels, but also more often than not, places tend to be less crowded. The south-western coast of Sri Lanka is a non-peak season between June and August; and when we visited in August, we were happy to have the beaches all to ourselves, barring a few locals. Also, when I visited Allepey, Kerela in the month of June- we stayed in a suite right by the stunning Vembanad lake, and I got that room for a steal (which would have otherwise costed me a bomb in the peak season). Psst- calling up the hotel and negotiating can sometimes get you a better deal; since the staff is eager on utilizing their unsold room inventory.

IMG_8716Strolling down Beruwala beach in Sri Lanka

Hack 4: Watch out for those long weekends

If you mark out all the long weekends at the start of the year, half your job is done. Those without a five-day week may find this a tad bit difficult, but you could look out for those weekends when the holiday coincides with a Monday. This calendar will come in handy. Or worst-case scenario, take a day trip! You will find lots of places in and around your city that provide you with a quick escape from the city chaos- a trek to a lake, a visit to an organic farm, a beautiful fort or a pristine beach. For example, in March I couldn’t take any leaves, and hence I did a day trip to a vineyard which was quite a refreshing break.

IMG_20170304_142040Sipping on wine at Heritage Vineyard

Hack 5: Explore and appreciate your own country

While exotic overseas destinations continue to have an inexplicable lure to them, there are tons of hidden gems on our home turf which can also offer memorable experiences. We get so heavily bombarded with information about far-flung destinations, that we sometimes undermine the beauty of what lies in our own backyard. I remember taking a road trip to Coonoor from Bangalore and the drive through the green pastures and sunflower fields with the mountains in the background was one of the most picturesque sceneries that will be etched in my mind forever.

IMG_7778Of gorgeous paddy fields in Wayanad, Kerela

Hack 6: Don’t be shy to travel solo or with strangers from an online travel group

How many times has it happened that you really wanted to take a trip, but it didn’t work out thanks to the hectic schedule of your friend? Such instances are common, but if you’re serious about travelling, don’t let these hurdles come in the way. Take a solo trip- initially, it can be daunting, but you eventually learn to love your own company. If you’re not game for solo travel, there are lots of online travel communities and groups (some of them female only for women travellers) where you can find like-minded people to travel with. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose- instead it will be an opportunity to make new friends.

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Enjoying the fall season at Place des Vosges, Paris

Hack 7: Take advantage of destination weddings and business trips

December always brings with it lots of weddings which end up eroding all your leaves. But even if one wedding is taking place outside your own city, you can always extend your stay or arrive a day early to explore the place. That’s what I did when I attended weddings in Indore, Ajmer and Hua Hin. Alternatively, in case your work requires you to travel to a place, you can always check with your boss about extending your stay.

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Tea picking at a tea garden in Chiang Mai post the wedding in Hua Hin

Hack 8: Ditch hotels for homestays

When you end up travelling every month, it goes without saying that your finances are bound to get strained. This does not mean you need to rough it out in hostels. Thanks to Airbnb there are plenty of homestay options for every budget, and some of them are more charming and quaint than a hotel. So it’s lighter on your pocket, more unique than what a hotel would offer, and the cherry on the cake is that it gives you the opportunity to seek local experiences. I would recommend opting a stay with the host as opposed to a vacant house managed by a caretaker. This helps give you a lot of insight into the local life, customs and cuisines.

IMG_20170430_171225Our gorgeous Airbnb homestay in Coonoor

Hack 9: At least one holiday in the year should involve complete relaxation

We highly underestimate the importance of wellness holidays. We often create packed itineraries, and end up burning out instead of relaxing. While I understand that when you visit a new place, you’re curious to explore as much as you can, keep one holiday devoted to complete relaxation. Hit the spa, read a book, take a nature trail, and most importantly catch up on your sleep.

IMG_7325At Purity wellness retreat in Alleppey

Hack 10: Sale alerts should always be on your radar

A lot of travel sites offer discounts throughout the year. These could either be linked to your credit/debit cards or an ongoing promotion on the site. Download 2-3 relevant apps and keep the push notification feature on to stay updated with all the offers. This can get a little annoying, but it’s a good way to stay on top of things. You never know what offer you may come across, and end up planning an impromptu trip. Our Sri Lanka trip was planned mainly because we got a sweet deal on the air tickets.

So book your ticket, take that road trip, and move out of your comfort zone, because what you learn from these experiences, no job can teach you. And contrary to your bank account balance, the memories you create will make you a much richer person. Everyone’s job is different, and what works for me may not work for you. But if you really value travel, you can strike that balance between your work and adventure spirit to make it happen.

What are your travel plans for 2018?

18 Comments Add yours

  1. I totally agree with your points! I made the decision three years ago to quit my job and travel full-time. It’s the best decision I’ve made. I hope you get to travel just as much this year! Happy travelling!

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      Wow! I’m glad you took this leap of faith. I’ve been oscillating back and forth on this decision. But for now it’s working and travelling 🙂 Looking forward to 2018 and the adventures it beings!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all great tips for traveling with a full time job! I seriously can’t get over the fact you work 9-9… and you blog?! Gal you’re a rockstar!!

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      Haha. Thanks 🙂 It’s comments like these which egg me on further!

      Like

  3. Teja says:

    Awesome tips! I totally agree with taking it slow and going off peak. I think it makes it more likely that your trip experience is more unique and special to you, instead of just replicating the experience most people do.

    Like

  4. Ella says:

    Great article! I totally agree about not over-planning. That’s something I’m guilty of 🙈

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      I hear you! I also have to actively stop myself from over-planning and draining myself out.

      Like

  5. This Epic World says:

    Taking advantage of weddings! That’s it! Brilliant idea! I have a couple of weddings to attend that I was initially dreading. But thanks to your tip, I’m on my way to planning a nice fancy trip😁

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      I’m so glad to hear that 🙂 Where are these weddings happening?

      Like

  6. Daniela says:

    Great tips! I know what it is to travel a lot with a full time job and it looks impossible, but it’s all doable if you stick to your plan.

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      Absolutely. If there’s a will, there’s a way! Hoping this inspires more working professionals to travel 🙂

      Like

  7. vdaltonbanks says:

    Wow, 12 places in 12 months is a great year of travel!! I definitely take advantage of long weekends and travel deals!

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      That’s awesome! I know it can be challenging for working professionals to travel frequently, but it’s such a rewarding experience right?!

      Like

    2. Sunami says:

      Yayy! Glad to hear that 🙂

      Like

  8. These are great travel hacks! I also try to travel at least once a month and to take advantage of long weekends, as well as weddings and events, to see as much as I can! Doing this I traveled more last year than ever before and it was my best year yet 🙂

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      Awesome! More power to you 🙂 Hope 2018 brings you more adventures and travels!

      Like

  9. Raksha Rao says:

    Awesome tips. And awesome to hear that you stuck to your New Year resolution of travelling to 12 places in 12 months. I have been trying to do it for 2 years, I can’t say I succeeded entirely! Maybe this year I’ll make it happen!

    Like

    1. Sunami says:

      Yes! Yes! You must 🙂 Keep me posted on how it goes!

      Like

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