You Don’t Need to Be Rich to Travel

Ok, in all seriousness, who hasn’t felt this way at some point? Image result for raised hand emoji

I get asked all the time how I travel as much as I do and my answer is not as complex as many seem to think it should be, it’s rather simple:

I save.

Even after going down to one income (yes, starting a business means you aren’t really making money the first couple of years!) we’re still traveling just as much as when I had a regular paycheck coming in each month.

Saving.  It’s the less than sexy thing to do, because when there’s so much “stuff” in front of us all the time vying for our attention, why put money away now when you can get instant gratification and buy something fun today?

I totally get it.

What do I love to spend money on?

  • Trying new restaurants/bars
  • Lululemon
  • Hair, makeup and beauty products
  • Wine
  • Travel

Based on this list, it doesn’t take quite as long to save up for a night out at the newest restaurant in town, new mascara or a fun tank top, but saving thousands of dollars for a trip? Well that takes a little more discipline.

Talking about money, saving and expenses is often taboo with family and friends, so while social media continues to show postings that induce wanderlust, we’re left wondering – well how do I get to go there?

There’s a few different ways I suggest saving for travel:

  1. Set aside a set amount that automatically gets transferred every time you get paid into a vacation fund.
    • This can be accomplished by going through all of your essential expenses – mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, gas, etc and from there seeing what is left and renegotiating with yourself how the remaining discretionary funds get spent.  Maybe your 2x month massage goes down to 1 or your 3x week happy hours get cut back to 1 a week.  Whatever you choose, this will help with budgeting.
  2. Create a budget for each trip and identify how much everything is going to cost in advance and then divide that out by month to set aside that money.
    • I’ve been doing this for years – I write out flights, parking, dog boarding, meals, luggage fees, every possible expense for a trip.  From there I take that amount and divide it out by the number of months I have until I want to take that trip (or need to pay for it)  Knowing  throughout the year how much I will need to save ensures I’m not putting vacations on credit cards and charging up a lot of bills and I’m getting the trip I’ve envisioned, not the one where I miss out because I didn’t have the funds to experience the area.
  3. Trusty change jar
    • Everytime you get change, add it to a jar. Just a $1.37/day gets you to $500 in a year – that alone can get you plane tickets somewhere pretty cool.   
  4. Save points and money simultaneously.
    • Credit cards associated with a preferred airline can give you access to adding up miles or points for flights quickly, allowing you to focus on saving money for the other expenses on a trip. 
  5. Stop buying and limit other entertainment. Really this comes down to how bad you want to travel. And I’m not going to say it is easy.
    • I live maybe a ½ mile from a really awesome mall. I love shopping, but I love traveling more. Now, I maybe buy new clothes 1- 2 times a year now if you follow my travel photos and social media feeds, you may notice I wear a lot of the same stuff year after year.  Fashion simply isn’t as important as seeing the world anymore and I’ve learned that while on trips, it isn’t a fashion show – no one cares about what you’re wearing other than you.
    • Same with beauty products, hair appointments etc. I only got my hair cut twice this year, I’ve stopped highlighting my hair, I don’t get facials or massages anymore and I only buy makeup when I’ve truly run out of something. Would I love to have it all and keep up with all of my beauty routines of the past?    Do I want to give up traveling in exchange for those?  Not a chance.

All in all, there are a lot of different ways you can look at saving, but if travel is a priority to you, you’ll find a way.  Maybe start by trying one strategy and if it doesn’t feel right for you, try another! 

Image result for vacation savings jar

Ok, so how much to save?  From what I see online, there is a belief that traveling to most parts of the world, there’s a way to do it “cheap,” because of the preferable exchange rate.  Absolutely.  Once you fly somewhere (which the flights often can be the biggest expense) the cost of accommodations or food may not be as much as expected, but what about the experience you’re going after once you’re there?

Having an amazing travel experience often comes with a price.

For example, when I traveled to Peru in 2015 and hiked the Inca Trail, and planned the trip 6 weeks before, I was worried about whether or not I’d be able to go there and it wasn’t budget related – they restrict the number of visitors throughout the year.  

Once these passes are sold out, you can’t go – it doesn’t matter how much money you have.  Even other locations throughout the world, such as our upcoming African safari in South Africa limits the number of visitors.  Most restrictions throughout the world are meant to protect sensitive ecosystems, historical sites, or to provide an uncrowded experience, which is priceless. 

Even if a location doesn’t limit based on number of people, sometimes the best guides come at a top cost – unless you don’t care about what you’re looking at and why you’ve traveled across the world, having a local expert or someone with a professional education (like my guide through the Louvre in Paris with 10 years of art history education) it’s going to be lackluster. 

Personally, I believe any type of travel is special and your investment in travel is not the place to pinch pennies – especially if you’re not sure when you’ll get back to that part of the world (soon or if ever.)

Now don’t get me wrong – I love traveling and doing things for free or on the cheap that make an experience special.  Sitting at the base of the Eiffel Tower with a $10 bottle of wine, grabbing food from a street vendor or simply people-watching from a café in Bordeaux are some of my favorite memories, all accomplished without having to break the bank.

But I also do want you to have realistic expectation when it comes to those moments that you see on Facebook or Instagram – the inspiring, breath-taking, “I wanna go there” kind of pictures.

My best advice is Don’t Compromise Experience for a Price and in the words of Warren Buffet “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

 

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