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Mini-breaks: Becoming a Frequent Traveller Without Letting Real Life Get in the Way

01/08/2013 10:07 BST | Updated 30/09/2013 10:12 BST
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For those of us with unrequited wanderlust in our hearts, a major barrier to frequent, consistent travel is, quite simply, lack of time. Many people wonder how they can travel while working a full-time job and juggling their daily responsibilities. After all, isn't travel only for the privileged few with loads of leisure time? Wrong! Consistent, satisfying travel is very doable and can fit into nearly any lifestyle if done right. How so, you ask?

The answer: mini-breaks

Mini-breaks are the secret to staying active, acquiring new experiences and keeping your travel self sharp throughout the year, regardless of your budget or schedule.

I will usually take about 2 'big' trips abroad every year, and these are buttressed by many small, on-the-fly mini-breaks, so I end up covering quite a bit of ground per year without having to take too much time out of an otherwise busy work schedule.

Mini-breaks are generally more doable and affordable than you think. They require a bit of imagination, some planning and creativity, but the reward of discovery and experience is well worth it.

Mini-breaks are cheap and cheerful. Examples can include:

  • A weekend trip to the English countryside
  • Taking advantage of a bank holiday to hop on the Eurostar, arriving into Paris for a 3-day whirlwind museum tour
  • Securing a day or two off and booking an Easyjet flight anywhere in Europe for a quick city break
  • Hopping on your bike with a tent and cycling out of the city, into somewhere rural and beautiful

(Ok, so this last one, I would never actually do, but still, you might!) The point is that mini-breaks have been a staple in my life since I've moved to the UK, specifically because it's very easy and convenient to travel throughout the UK and into Europe.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Alistair Humphreys, a professional adventurer, give a talk on the topic of 'micro-adventures' - accessible, bite-sized adventures you can pretty much do in your own back yard (the aforementioned cycling idea comes from him, as he's actually cycled his way around the world!).

Whether you're an adrenaline-seeking adventurer or simply a suitcase-in-hand traveller, squeezing in experiences is key. Becoming a frequent, passionate traveller needn't require long, devoted stretches of free time but rather a willingness to be flexible and make the most of the time you do have.

While the above examples are obviously very UK-centric, they can be interpreted quite universally in terms of proximity and opportunity. After all, sometimes even obvious excursions can be the ones that take our breath away, teach us something new about our surroundings and ourselves.

Equally, challenging ourselves to go that bit further, to take advantage of exploring something that seems almost distant or inaccessible at first glance can actually be easier in reality than it seems on paper. Oftentimes there's much more around us to explore than we've ever taken the time to imagine.

The trick is in learning to get in the habit of maximising your available time, which sometimes takes a bit of smart negotiation. After a while, you'll learn that there are quite often creative work-arounds available.

For example, try to see if you can take days in lieu, work remotely, or look to catch the early train back on a Monday, arriving into the office with a suitcase in hand. For some, even asking for unpaid vacation days can be an option, simply because getting away for a day or two is worth the financial hit for a bit of mental and emotional wellbeing. It's worth investigating the options that may be available to you, because you may not know they exist until you ask.

Ultimately, it's like anything else in life: if you make space for travel to fit within your lifestyle, you may just be pleasantly surprised to find that you can make it happen. Now go forth and feed that wandering spirit inside of you.