"I wish I had your life"
"I wish I had the money to do what you do"
"wish I could take the time off to do all that stuff"
I hear it often time when I run into someone I know and haven't seen in awhile. They just tell me how envious they are after seeing all my photos and that they live vicariously through me. But it never makes sense to me so I always reply with "you can do it all too." Of course there's the endless amounts of excuses or reasons why they can't. But I always say, you can have any life you want. Your life is in your hands, do what with it as you will. It doesn't take much money at all either and I work a regular salary job and get vacation days just like everyone else. So here's how I make the most of my time here on earth and travel as much as I can collecting memories.
I do own my company and I am luckily how flexible I can make it but I do limit myself to about 4 weeks of vacation time a year and rarely use more than 5 days at a time. The average American vacation time is 16 days per year. (France and other European countries is 2 months vacation) So here's how to use it wisely. Plan your trips around days where you already have 3-4 day weekends. If 4th of July is on a thursday, more than likely you are getting off both that thursday and friday already and with the weekend, thats 4 days right there and you havent even dipped into your vacation time. Why not request the days off before and just start the Saturday before. You'll have 9 days off in a row and only use 3 vacation days. You can go on one hell of an adventure over 9 days so plan ahead! Most of my trips are planned at least 6 months ahead, sometimes 9-12 months.
Far as money goes, most of my trips are backpacking or doing an expedition SUP paddle down a river, or maybe it's just spending a few days rock climbing somewhere new. The great thing is, the only real expense is getting there. If you're flying, I highly suggest a credit card where you earn miles. Check ticket prices everyday and usually on tuesdays 6 weeks out is the prime time to purchase when flight prices drop. If you're driving and got 4 empty seats, grab some friends and split the gas!
Stay at campgrounds and tent camp. It's never very much, especially if you're splitting a site between a few people. You also get to meet tons of other like minded people doing the same thing you are! Hostels and Airbnb are also great resources to use. I try to meet and stay in contact with everyone I meet so I now have friends all over the country and beyond I can meet up with or potentially stay with in the future.
Sure you may eat out while on the road but while on my trip, Im usually using my backpacking stove so i'll be eating dehydrated meals I prepped long before the trip. Just eat smart and not waste money on over priced restaurants. A cooler in the back with food is also another convenient option.
"But I have the kids" I hear a lot. Pretty simple, Take them with you! While backpacking at Havasupai, there was plenty of small children backpacking in. Even a few babies. Sure I made sure to camp far away from them but they were still out there, showing their kids these beautiful amazing places! They make some amazing baby carrier packs now a days specifically made for backpacking. Your kid is going to get more knowledge and life experiences joining you on these adventures rather than at home sitting in front of a TV. Start em young!
So I ask, what's really stopping you?! There's a whole world out there. Go enjoy and experience it!