It’s one of the biggest dilemmas I’ve discovered since graduating from college: now that I’m a “grown up,” with a job and bills to pay and responsibilities that I have to take care of (not to mention a precious limited number of vacation days), I find it hard to take longer-than-a-weekend trips. Now that I have a few dollars to spend on travel, it seems impossible to find the time to do it. But when I had the time, I was flat broke and there was no way I could finance all the trips I wanted to take.

Now, believe me, I know how lucky I am to have this problem. Jobs aren’t exactly being handed out on every street corner. I’m lucky to be building a career in my chosen field, and I’m thankful for that every single day. But it’s hard when something you’re equally passionate about (in this case, travel) is compromised and delayed and pushed to the back burner. It’s definitely a struggle to figure out how I can balance the things I love doing with the things I need to do.

Sometimes I find myself looking back on the trips I’ve taken, whether it was the month-long trek around Europe or the spring break spent at Mardi Gras, and I miss those days of backpacks and booking last-minute tickets because I found a great deal, had a little cash saved and had no serious responsibilities. But then I remember the thrill of getting my first full-time paycheck and realizing I was self-sufficient, with no one to answer to except myself, and I recognize that while those experiences seem completely different, the feelings behind them were the same; it was all about freedom.

Another by-product of getting older is gaining perspective. And one of the things I’ve learned is that there is no “perfect time” for anything (this applies not just to travel, but to so many things in life). You’ll likely never have a bunch of extra cash lying around, and a month of vacation days to use up, and a free condo on a tropical beach where you can crash. But if you want something badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen. Maybe “making it happen” will mean adjusting your expectations and coming to terms with a new reality. Sure, we’d all love to lounge on the beach for a month, but maybe a weekend trip to the lake can serve the same purpose, at least in the short term.

Being an adult means making adult decisions. It also means being realistic about my wants versus my needs, and being honest with myself about what I want my life to look like. I like to think that if the day ever comes when I look in the mirror and realize I need to make a drastic change, if I feel like the road is calling me full time, I’ll have the courage to answer it. But until then, I’ll try to strike the best balance between career and passion, between home and away.

How do you find the time to pursue your passions?

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