I hear it time and time again that people don’t travel because they cannot afford it. It breaks my heart to hear because it makes me wonder if they will regret later in life never seeing the places they dream about or experience the cultures that make this world so rich with color.
So let me just go ahead and tell you, NO MATTER what you make, EVERYONE CAN afford travel. Not only that, but to the destination of your *DREAMS*. Here is how:
You may think that my first step will be boring or tough like CUT OUT ALL OF YOUR FUN and SAVE EVERYTHING and go on a BUDGET TRIP. No — that is definitely NOT where to begin– I would say that is where to END the fun and excitement of travel. In fact, worrying about going on a budget trip and counting every penny while there can very well drain your trip of fun and leave you with worries and stress– NOT worth the bargain! On the other hand going on an amazing trip before you have fully prepared will leave you with a load of debt and guilt to come home to not to mention the nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach during the duration of the trip..not fun. We will talk about both of these things. BUT FIRST:
1. Choose Your *DREAM* Destination
Whaaaaaat! Plan it before even a dime has been saved??! YES. This is your time to dream and research and explore! For me, this is one of my favorite parts! Start by researching and learning about the world, choose a few countries that interest you and even more than that the attractions that excite your curiosity! Take your time on this step, scribble notes and clip (save) photos. Watch videos and DREAM. Eeevvveeentually select your fantasy destination (or many times it will choose you!).
Don’t let finances limit your dreams, let your dreams motivate your finances.
2. Choose Your Date
The next step is just as important as the first because foreign countries behave very differently from one time of year to the next. Some areas have monsoon seasons and others have extreme heat (because you all had chosen to come see me here in the Qatari desert right?!). Beyond that, some times of the year are special and contain activities like Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (February), La Tomatina in Spain in (August) or see Sea Turtles coming ashore to lay eggs in Isla Canas (July) that you can coordinate into your trip. This is also when you can make your bid to friends and family to come along for the adventure with you. At this point you will have all of the photos, rough plans and attractions on hand to bribe them with. BOOM date is set! (Anticipation builds!)
3. Make a Budget
DOM DOM DOOOOM. THE DREADED B-WORD! Just kidding this is like my favorite word, and once you learn to work it, it will be yours too!! It is time to get real about making this thing happen– maybe you live and die by the budget or maybe this will be your first real whack at it, either way there are a few things to get in order first. 1) Debt. The last thing that you want to do is go on a vacation when you still have debt on your plate. For the sake of your future, wipe that crap out! The longer it sits, the bigger it gets. 2) Decide on how much (roughly) your trip will cost and draw up some calculations to see how many months you have to get there. For example, if you want to take it easy and go to an all-inclusive resort in Playa Mujeres for a week, it will cost roughly $4,000 and let’s just say you go next June, that is 8 months away so $4,000/8=$500. $500/month will be your golden ticket for this trip, and if that seems like too much still, you can extend your timeline a bit further or you can challenge yourself, get your friends involved, pick do a few extra odd jobs and get after it! For most people it is easy to find room to save if you simply start tracking your costs, for example your food for each month.
“THE AVERAGE AMERICAN SPENDS $15 A DAY EATING OUT. THAT’S $450 A MONTH. IF YOU INCLUDE DRINKS, $600 A MONTH. IN TWO MONTHS, YOU CAN BUY A TICKET TO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
YOU CAN AFFORD TO TRAVEL. YOU’RE JUST TOO LAZY TO COOK.”
Start simply cooking at home (not to mention the health benefits!) and you will be not only financially ready, but also bikini ready to travel! 😉
4. Finalize Travel Plans
After you have gotten the ball rolling with the budget and cash is starting to pile up (have fun and put your vacation savings in a special jar, “treasure chest” or even envelope so that you can seeeeee it grow!) it is time to pin down your exact trip. Go ahead and book your hotels (usually 0-10% down) and when you have saved enough, book that flight! WOOO! THINGS ARE GETTING REAL. Check the prices of your attractions, prices of meals in that country (all readily available on Trip Advisor (and if you hate researching this stuff, I’ll do it for you, I am a NUT for this stuff!)) and come up with your FINAL ALL IN PRICE. Now add a 10% contingency (increase your number by 10%) JUST DO IT. Re-calculate your monthly goal to fit this final amount and race towards the finish!
5. Live the Dream
Relax in your 5 Star hotel sipping Pina Coladas on the porch as you watch the waves roll in or live it up on the Champs Elysees nibbling on street crepes. Live YOUR dream, without a stress in the world and enjoy every step of the process.
Don’t forget to leave that cell phone on airplane-mode the WHOLE TIME. 😉