The 6 Habits of Well-Traveled People

by STEVE BLOOM

'Too Many People', United States, New York, New York City, Times Square

“How do you get to travel so much?”

“Why is it that you always seem to be traveling somewhere?”

I’m asked questions like these on a regular basis. It’s rather surprising too since I really don’t feel like I travel all that often. I travel roughly three to four times a year, but there are people out there that travel way more than that.  But if you consider that the people who ask me these questions travel maybe once every couple of years, I can see why they’d think I travel a lot.

After some self-reflection I’ve realized that I have different habits from those who don’t see much of the world.  These habits have helped build a lifestyle where travel becomes a big part of my life.  What is more, I’ve noticed these same habits in other regular travelers.

I’ve narrowed them down to six habits that seem to work best for those who see a large portion of the world.  Those habits are:

1. Save and spend money wisely

Look at how expensive it is to travel.  You have to spend money on plane tickets, somewhere to stay and food to eat.  Add to that any additional costs for entertainment and various other expenses and the tally goes up even more.

People who travel more know this.  They know that if you want to travel more you have to pick and choose what you spend your money on.  Are you going to spend the majority of your money on a large TV and fancy car or that awesome trip to the pyramids?

Simply put, good savers make good travelers.  If you’re willing to give up a little bit of spending power while you’re at home, you can find more money later when you want to travel the world.

2. Becoming familiar with frequent flyer programs

It’s no surprise that one of the most expensive items for traveling is the plane ticket.  So getting a plane ticking for nothing or perhaps a few dollars would be a great way to get you traveling more.  That’s what frequent flyer miles can do for you and if you’re not racking up those miles right now, you could be losing out on some travel opportunities.

When you buy a ticket through your airline, you should have the opportunity to get miles on the flight.  You can also get many miles through credit card applications (just make sure you pay it off every month) or special deals like signing up for a new Netflix account.  Eventually all those miles add up and you can get a flight for practically nothing.

3. Use weekends and holidays

You don’t always need to take time off work to travel.  You can use weekends and holidays to take a short trip too.  This works especially well for cities nearby that don’t take long to see.

In the past few years, I’ve used weekends to see places like San Antonio, Texas and Washington D.C.  I didn’t have to take any time off and I got to see each city really well.  It’s a great method to use when you’re in between big trips and you want to satisfy your travel bug.

4. Make travel a priority

Traveling is important for those who travel a lot.  They’ve made it a big priority and because of this importance, they go out of their way to fit travel as much as possible into their life.  Because of this importance, well-traveled people look for ways to travel and find new opportunities to see the world.

They also think about travel a lot too.  In fact, I think about it almost every single day.  It’s not just a once-a-year thing to me, it’s an everyday thing.  I read about it, watch videos on it and think about all the places I want to see and what I’ll do when I’m there.  Just thinking about it right now is making me want to hop on a plane and go somewhere.

5. Think beyond two weeks

If you look hard enough, you can find opportunities to travel for longer than the two week standard in the US.  I’ve managed to travel for long periods of time twice before and I’ll be living abroad for six weeks in Morocco in just a few months.

It’s a simple idea: travel more by extending the time you devote to traveling.  Get into the habit of looking for those opportunities to travel longer than two weeks.  If you’re in college, find out if there is a study abroad program or apply to join the Peace Corps.  If you’re working, ask your employers if you can take a sabbatical or leave of absence.  It’s worked for me in the past.

6. Finding the right jobs for travel

Some jobs are just going to be more accepting of travel than others.  I’ve had employers in the past let me take off several long periods of time to travel and a few others who would only let me take off two weeks a year and that’s it.  Those who like to travel would do well to find one that is generous in time off to their employees.

One thing many well-traveled people do is become self-employed or own their own business.  This can give you a better position to let yourself travel whenever you want.  I knew an owner of a business who took off a month to travel through Norway while at the same time only allowing his employees two weeks a year.

Many jobs such as working in a hospital or as a teacher offer longer periods of time off each year.  Other jobs like travel nursing include travel in the job description.  Some people prefer to work entirely online so they can do their job from anywhere in the world.

Do you have any travel habits that get you to see more of the world?  Share them in the comments below so we can all travel more.
photo credit: WanderingtheWorld

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Comments

  1. I cannot agree more with #1. When I told my friend about my upcoming trips she’s asked how I afford it. And I go, well you just spent several thousand dollars upgrading your bathroom. And I live in a place the size of a box, but I’m going on a trip this year.

    Another thing I found that is helpful in getting to travel more is having friends that travel. You’re more likely to get calls like, “Hey we’re planning on going to Korea in December and staying with so and so’s family. You in?”. Then you can also get travel tips for places your friends have visited. That has saved me a lot of time and money in the past.

    • Hey Miranda, I’ve had that same conversation. They just spent a lot of money on a car or remodeling their house and ask me where I find the money to travel. Travel is important to me so I make sure I have enough to do it when I want.

      I like your habit of having friends that travel. Many of my travels, especially the earlier ones, came about because I had friends who invited to go somewhere. Knowing someone abroad can be a great reason to get you to travel there too.

  2. Steve,
    wonderful list. Hopefully it will push people past the dreaming stages to the actual doing…..

    If i were to add one thing, mmaybe it would be right after #2 Familiarize yourself with frequent flyers program. That being, “Familarize yourself with lodging place sites like Airbnb.com or sabbaticalhomes.com, or couchsurfing etc. Whatever your comfort zone is in terms of budget and type of lodging, know where to go look for it. Unless of course you have scads of money and can afford to stay in expensive hotels for extended periods.

    • That’s a good tip too. Outside of your actual plane ticket, somewhere to stay will be one of the bigger expenses. I know I couldn’t afford to stay in expensive hotels every night for most of my trips. So familiarizing yourself with sites like those and figuring out which one works best for you could be a great money saving idea.

  3. Great post! Saving money for a travel goal or while traveling long term taught me how to stay on a budget and really scrutinize my spending. Traveling or not, life is a lot easier when I you consciously spend and save on/for what you want instead of letting money slip away on things you don’t really use, need or care about.

    I completely agree about making travel a priority! I always say/think to myself, if someone wants to travel, they will find a way. They will find a deal, take a weekend trip, make a work trip into a holiday… If you want it, you will go get it!

    Thanks again for a great post!

    • Yeah, saving money for traveling taught me how to stay on a budget too. Traveling in general also helped me realize just how little I actually need so I stopped spending money on things I don’t need or really use. It’s interesting how that happens to some travelers.

      I agree that if someone really wants to travel they will find a way. It’s about making your dream vacation a priorty so it can happen. It’s true that if you want it, you’ll go get it.

  4. Great post Steve. I think making travel a priority is the most important thing. You can make anything happen if you want it enough.

  5. I think the key item is #4 – make it a priority. This means that you’ll go on a trip rather than get a new car or fill you time with things like shopping!

    One thing I like to do is have the next trip at least pencilled in before I get back.

    • Hey Peter, I see it as making trade-offs. If you really want that big trip, you might have to forgo a few things at home. Although I think it’s worth it.

      I like your tip because I will often do that. I haven’t even started my next trip, which will be Morocco, and I’m already thinking about where I’ll go after there.

  6. As you say, making travel a priority and finding the right job for travel, in addition to saving money to do it, are really vital to having the ability to travel. In the U.S. travel is most definitely not a priority for most people, although there are many, many people interested in it. I’d like to see more Americans traveling before they buckle down into the working world – either in high school exchange programs, college years abroad, or U.K.-style gap years. Perhaps when they’ve got travel under their belts at a young age, they’ll make it a priority when they become older.

    • Hey Sabina, you make a great point about traveling when you’re young. I agree that people who travel while they’re younger will probably make it a priority when they’re older.

      I’d like to see more people traveling before they get into the working world too. There are already a lot of opportunities such as exchange programs and study abroad programs in college, but more people should take advantage of them. It would help Americans to travel more if we had a gap year too. Maybe if we had one, we’d make travel more of a priority.

  7. I agree with all of the points made. My wife and I have been traveling a lot for the last 30 years.

    Travel is our number one priority and I think about it A LOT. I pencil things in on my calendar way in advance.

    I took a job as a college professor and I enjoy almost 5 months off every year.

    I would rather take a trip than buy a car or a new TV.

    We are a little unusual for Americans, but we live to travel.

    I guess one day I will retire and then see what happens. However, I often tell people I can’t afford to travel any more than I do now so why would I retire?

    • I’m with you. I think about it a lot and pencil in travel on my calendar way in advance too. I’d rather take a trip than buy a car or new TV too; I feel like I get more value out of travel.

      It’s good to hear that you can travel so much as a college professor. Teaching seems to be a good career for those who want to travel. When I was in teaching in Morocco, I met so many teachers who lived and worked abroad. They got to travel a lot.

  8. So true, especially around spending. Also when I travel I don’t overspend, I spend on the things that matters and skip the tourist traps; Far more fun and far more “me”. Thanks for a valuable post!

    • I don’t overspend when I travel either. I’ve met others who think that they need to splurge on trips, but I just think that if you spend a little more modestly, you can make your dollars go further – to me, that means more travel.

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