work life balance is about more than just traveling

Work life balance obviously means embracing more than just planning a vacation once a year. It means having balance in all aspects of your life so basically work hard but also play hard (by doing whatever appeals to you). For me recently a big struggle for maintaining a work life balance is having a good home life. I enjoy coming home and relaxing, that may mean playing with my dogs, watching a movie, baking something I've never tried before, reading a fun novel, or planning an upcoming vacation :)  

The unfortunate struggle of being a young professional is the financial hardship of starting out, especially in a big city like Seattle. The reason this is relevant is because it means that most young people have to live with multiple roommates in order to make ends meet, which is where I currently find myself. Without getting into too many specifics I will say my home life is hard, which I think in turn has made work hard. I didn't see it that way at first but I've found that I am becoming more irritable and just feeling burnt out emotionally because I am not really getting my down time. If I'm not stressed at work, I'm stressed about being at home just because I don't feel like I can truly relax in what is supposed to be my space. So now I'm spending the bulk of my free time trying to figure out how to break a lease and find a new place to live when really I should be planning my awesome trip to Thailand! The good thing about having the tickets to Thailand is that worst case I still have something to look forward to and can at least temporarily escape the situation. 

My place of work can't control all the elements of my life and I get that. However, after talking with multiple colleagues we have started to realize that it is interesting that we work in this expensive/nice neighborhood in Seattle but none of us can really afford to live in it, either alone or with a spouse. This is an issue, but how do we even begin to fix it? It seems unfair but then at the same time I feel like I make an appropriate salary. I'd love to start a more open discussion about this and see what other people think and how it is in other parts of the country. Should your work base your pay on its location so that its employees have the option to live close to work and not deal with a commute? 

Lets get slightly political for a minute

Did you know that American's take less vacation days than almost every other developed country? Not only are we offered less (2-3 weeks compared to around 6 weeks in European countries) but we work longer days/weeks, and our employers often make it hard for people to get away for extended periods of time. How many people do you know that have accrued so much vacation that they are losing it, simply because they can't actually get away from work? I'm fairly young, 25 to be exact, and this happens to my friends in the business world a lot. 

I'm not sure why my business friends come to mind first. I have friends still working retail who are not even offered paid vacation time because its not required here in the U.S, I'm personally in the midst of planning a trip and I won't know for a while if I'm even going to get the entire time I have requested off (I should also add I had to put in my vacation request before Christmas to even have a chance and I'm trying to leave in July). Every working American can be affected by our lack of policy that encourages people to take time off. The millennial generation is different. Working hard without a break just to end up on top first isn't how we do things, its how we burnout. We see value in seeing the world and paying for experiences instead of material things. Our workforce needs to change as millennials become the working class, we simply need more from life than work. I love what I do but I've never wanted my job to define who I am, because I am so much more than that, we all are. Maybe not everyone knows that we are behind the times in supporting our employees to take vacation, adjust to being a new parent, recover from an injury, or even being able to properly grieve a loss; but we are. You can look it up, here are a few articles I enjoyed reading to better understand this issue that isn't getting a ton of attention right now:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/05/23/vacation.in.america/ 

https://20somethingfinance.com/american-hours-worked-productivity-vacation/

http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/15/422957640/lots-of-other-countries-mandate-paid-leave-why-not-the-us

This last link has some awesome charts to have a better visual representation of what I am talking about. 

I'm not exactly sure how to spark change but I'm hoping we can, so spread the word.

Dreaming of Hawaii

Today I awoke from a dream that took place in Maui, Hawaii. I was fortunate enough to go last September so I figured I would share some of my experiences. Off the bat I should say this trip  started out really difficult for me, I was supposed to take my boyfriend at the time for his birthday but we ended up breaking up right before. Luckily I was planning on going with another couple and we were able to find a mutual friend to fill in. So be sure you're on solid ground in your relationship for all vacations before you start planning, and definitely before you get on a plane together. Vacations have a tendency to make or break you which can be scary and exciting. 

If you are planning a trip to Hawaii specifically though it is definitely worth looking into VRBO, we were able to rent a 2 bedroom condo for about $125/night! Buying plane tickets well in advance saved us a lot too! I also use an app called Hopper that was watching the flight on the dates that I wanted and it notified me when prices dropped and raised.

We planned a slew of activities primarily revolving around the beach and pina coladas. We were able to save a bunch of money by snorkeling on our own instead of paying to join a tour group and we saw everything we wanted to see including sea turtles! We also rented a car and did the road to Hana on our own. This drive took a lot of planning and since we wanted to do it in a day we really had to pick and choose what we did. Starting early worked to our advantage because the first few places we stopped weren't as crowded. We did get somewhat caught in a flash flood on our way home though and had to skip some stuff at the end for fear of getting back to our condo safely. So learn from us and definitely check the weather before you head out in the morning! We did splurge and go to a luau with all kinds of traditional Hawaiian performances, the food and show were definitely worth it for us!

If you are interested in seeing what my trip looked like I put together a youtube video that you can visit by clicking on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKEabDZeK6o

If you have any questions I would love to try and help so please comment below :) 

Getting My Priorities Right

Its been a hard winter here in Seattle, the wettest in 72 years actually, but its been more than dreary weather making this last 6 months hard. 2 years ago today I was in Venice. At the time I had just graduated nursing school and decided I needed a break so I took a few months to travel with my best friend. It was without a doubt the best decision I had ever made. Now I've been working in the hospital setting for almost 2 years and I'm exhausted, emotionally and physically. All through nursing school we were warned about burnout, I just didn't realize it could happen so fast. This phenomenon isn't unique to nursing, getting into the work grind and becoming part of a culture where its hard to take a vacation takes its toll on you. I've never wanted work to be my life and right now it feels like it is. Recently I decided to make a change. I just started planning a trip to southeast Asia this summer and I'm hoping to share my experiences and travel tips I have and will learn along the way. I want to create a space where working people can be encouraged to live so we can either embrace the work life balance or perhaps change what we do for work so that we are able to live the life we seek and dream of.