Yes, you can travel often with kids and careers
The last two weeks have been quite full around here with Nicole returning to work after taking a year off for maternity leave (12 months is the standard maternity leave for Canadians).
We celebrated Baby Connor’s first birthday last week and now he’s joining his big brother Braydon at full time day care, which has been bitter sweet.
Where the heck did this past year go?
As we continue to tweak our lives to strike a balance between work, family and travel, we’ve made a goal to write more posts that share some of the ways we’re able to make it happen. We love the reader questions we receive every day, so we thought, rather than continually repeat ourselves in private emails, why not take the time to write a few posts that address some of the most commonly asked questions we get.
Today, we’re focusing on how we’re able to travel often, while still keeping our day jobs.
How much vacation time do we get?
Most Canadians get between 2 to 3 weeks of paid vacation each year. The statutory minimum in Canada is 10 vacation days per year. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s a reality that most employed Canadians accept. Now, you can always quit your job to travel more, but that’s not a sustainable option for many, especially if you have a mortgage and kids to feed.
Did you know that employees in France get up to 9.5 weeks of paid vacation with an additional 11 public holidays of unpaid time off? That’s over 11 weeks of potential travel time each year!
And, did you know that employees in Guinea, Libya, Maldives and the UAE get 30 days of paid vacation each year. Yes, there’s some serious envy going on over here!
Our employers require that we be in the office from Monday to Friday. We don’t mind, we like what we do and we’re happy with the life we’ve created. But just because we work full time does not mean we have to limit our travels to a measly 10-15 days per year. Far from it.
In fact, this year we will have 53 travel days.
I know what you’re thinking. How do you travel 53 days in a year when the average Canadian only gets 10-15 days of vacation?
The answer is simple: We take advantage of long weekends.
We live in British Columbia, which gives employees 4 provincial holidays. There are also 5 statutory holidays in Canada. So, we have an extra 9 days on top of the standard 3 weeks of mandatory vacation days.
If you’re tracking with me, that’s 24 days.
Now, if you book travel around long weekends you gain an additional 2 days (Saturday and Sunday). We typically add 1-2 vacation days on the front or back of a long weekend, stretching the trip to 4-5 days.
Can you do Hawaii or Las Vegas in 5 days? Absolutely!
In the past year, we’ve done this for trips to Sun Peaks Resort, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Vancouver Island and this weekend we are going to Manning Park in central British Columbia for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
In total, we burned 5 vacation days for these trips, but gained 20 days of travel because we timed the trips over a holiday weekend.
For our big trip, we visited Sayulita, Mexico for a couple weeks. We only burned 9 vacation days because the trip overlapped two weekends, one being a holiday weekend. This gave us 15 days of travel for the price of 9 vacation days.
Another big trip we took this summer was a 10 day road trip through the Canadian Rockies in Alberta (everyone must drive from Banff to Jasper at least once in their lives!). Once again, we timed this trip to overlap a holiday weekend and therefore only used 4 vacation days.
We still have 2 more trips planned in the final two months of the year, which will give us another 8 days of travel.
Are you still with me?
Therefore, our 5 shorter trips totaled 20 travel days. Sayulita was 15 days, Canadian Rockies was 10 days and we have 8 days remaining.
That’s a total of 53 travel days!
It really is that simple.
The downside with this timing strategy is that we often find ourselves traveling over busy holiday weekends, which can get very costly, especially as a family of four. But that’s the price we pay to have more travel experiences each year.
What’s important to note is that we now plan our family trips well in advance, sometimes even a year out. Case in point, we’re already planning a trip to Wales and England for the Rugby World Cup in September 2015 (11 months away).
We plan months in advance for trips that require flights because we try to use our Aeroplan Miles whenever possible and there’s more options the further out we book. Redeeming Miles for flights is one of the ways we can afford to travel as often as we do.
But that’s a topic for another day.