How a Year-Round Skyhour Travel Balance Can Change Your Life

Mariana Suchodolski

Published on
How a Year-Round Skyhour Travel Balance Can Change Your Life

In the not-so-distant past, leisure travel was reserved for the wealthy. While luxury travel may still be out of reach for most people, traveling on a budget is rarely the penny-pinching experience people assume it may be. I have taken advantage of last-minute deals at beautiful hotels during the off-season and stayed at unique Airbnbs. I’m no trust fund kid. I just learned the fine art of convincing people to gift flight time.

When holidays and celebrations come around that call for gift-giving, I ask for skyhours. And thankfully, that balance adds up. Friends and family members who enjoy living vicariously through me and my adventures also contribute to my travel balance to keep me going. Here’s why I think you should gift air travel, or if you’re the traveler, why you should ask for that instead the next time a gift-giving reason comes around.

It’s a No-Brainer Gift

When we were kids, adults didn’t have to think too hard about what to get us. Most of us wanted the latest toys on the market or a trip to Disney World. Some of us even had specific hobbies that parents supported. This could have been sports, arts or being a legendary bookworm. Parents, grandparents, aunties and older siblings could pick out presents for us with their eyes closed.

As we get older, that changes. Friends and family may worry about getting you something you already have or buying you something that you won’t like. So, if you love to travel, let everyone know that gifting you skyhours is all you need. Not only is this an easy gift to give, but it’s affordable and it doesn’t matter how many other people give the same gift. In fact, the more the merrier!

You’re More Likely To Use It

From dating sites to social media, everyone talks about how much they love to travel, but few people actually go anywhere. Even when they have vacation time, many Americans don’t take it. CNBC estimates that only 28% of workers in America actually max out their vacation time. Imagine leaving free vacation time on the table.

One of the biggest deterrents to travel is cost. Many people tell me they wish they could travel but then never do the math to see how inexpensive it can be. When you’ve got some air travel credits in your travel balance, you’re much more likely to use them up. Skyhours aren’t only good for vacations either. Fly home to see the parents or fly your long-distance partner out to see you. Whatever you end up doing with them, it’s probably way more useful than that new gadget or sweater.

Jor Hammond visiting crowded street in Beijing

Crowded street in Beijing by @jordhammond

It Can Challenge Your Comfort Zone

Most Americans have at least flown on a plane to another state. While every state has its unique flavor, this doesn’t challenge your comfort zone as much as going abroad, especially alone. I started traveling within the Americas because it’s most familiar. Even when the people around me did not speak a word of English, I knew I wasn’t too far from home.

On the other hand, traveling to southern Europe or eastern Asia was way outside of my comfort zone. These destinations were also a lot more expensive than the $300 flights I was often able to score around the U.S. If family and friends had not gifted me skyhours, the cost would have continued to intimidate me as much as the distance did. Once you realize you can actually afford a trip to France, you start thinking about that potential trip in a whole new way.

It Can Finance a Gap Year

Some people are content to take a trip or two per year. Then you have people like me, who appreciate constantly being on the road. During my travels, I’ve learned that a gap year between high school and college is typical in the U.K. and Australia. However, Americans are only just catching on. This is hardly surprising considering how many of us seem to have a love-hate relationship with taking our vacation time.

Did you know a gap year could help you score better grades? According to New York University, students who take a gap year before college earned GPAs that averaged 0.1 to 0.4 points higher than other students. If you want to take a gap year, consider requesting skyhours as your graduation gift. If possible, plan ahead by asking for skyhours throughout the year. Note that you can take a gap year at any time.

More Travel Is Good for Your Health

In Europe, people tell me they work to make a living, while Americans live to work. In America, employees increasingly show up to work even when sick and give up their vacation days. One of the top reasons is that they fear falling behind on work. Not surprisingly, burnout, anxiety and chronic depression are becoming increasingly common. 

Traveling is rejuvenating and can help to make up for all those long hours you put in at work. In a Gap Year Association study, for instance, people reported finding more time for self-reflection, increasing their self-confidence and finding their life purpose. According to the Los Angeles Times, there is no better medicine than travel. It found that travel led to a reduction in stress and lowered the risk of heart disease. Even better is that people begin to experience the health benefits of travel within the very first day of being away.

Swimming in a blue lake in the Philippines

Swimming in a blue lake in the Philippines by @hannahsophiastories

There's the Chance To Enjoy Outdoor Exercise

When you travel around the world, holding a gym membership is a waste of money. You’re unlikely to find that gym in every country you visit. Your accommodations may also not offer gym access or it just costs way too much. Some people go out of their way to find a gym somewhere else, but staying active outdoors is way better — and it’s often free.

There is a level of achievement you experience outdoors that benching a certain weight at the gym will never compare to. I have gotten hiked in Olympic National Park, kayaked around secluded islands of Paraty, Brazil and trekked for 5 day to reach the ancient city of Ciudad Perdida in Colombia. While I appreciate going to the gym with family and friends at home, that experience pales in comparison to rushing to find your way out of the desert before sundown.

Local picking up white flowers in Costa Rica

Local picking up white flowers in Costa Rica by @andynlilly

Travel Is Good for World Economies

If you’re really passionate about philanthropy, then you’ve probably wondered how you can support smaller economies and developing countries around the world. Travel is a good way to stimulate these economies, especially if you ditch the all-inclusive hotels that tend to tempt tourists into spending their entire vacation in a vacuum. Behind those walls, you never truly experience what the culture of the place is like. Note that in developing economies, many locals depend on tourism to make a living. Staying at resorts keeps locals employed but in lower-paying jobs. To truly support the economies at the grassroots level, I highly recommend eating at local restaurants and staying at Airbnbs that create small business opportunities.

Lisbon rooftop bar on a sunny day

Lisbon rooftop bar on a sunny day by @muchosucho

You May Find a Brand-New Home

If you ask my family and friends, I have traveled the whole world ten times over. This is far from true, but I have seen enough of America and the rest of the world to decide where I want to live. Thanks to my travels, I recently made the tough decision to leave my home base and move across the ocean to Lisbon, where I fell in love with the picturesque neighborhoods and cloudless skies.

This is not unusual. Wherever you travel, you will run into many people from your own country who now call the place you’re visiting home. Sometimes a place connects with you in a way you never expected it to. And once it has, it becomes almost impossible to call anywhere else home.

Start Accumulating Skyhours

The greatest benefit of getting skyhours as a gift is that it reduces your travel costs, thereby increasing your options. While not everyone can buy you a roundtrip flight to Maui, someone might be able to chip in for an hour and a half of the trip. The sooner you start, the sooner it begins to add up. Start gifting or receiving skyhours today. The world awaits you.

Mariana Suchodolski
Lisbon, Portugal
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