If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how I manage to travel so much, I would be able to afford 5 Star accommodations. The trick to traveling is to stop making excuses. One of the biggest regrets older people claim to have is that they wish they had taken the time to travel more.
The bottom line is that American’s have terrible vacation practices. More than half (55%) of Americans didn’t take all their vacation days in 2015. These are days we are entitled to use in hopes of encouraging a healthy work/life balance, so why are we letting them go to waste? We know we want to see the world, so why do so many of us fail to do anything about it? We make excuses and it’s time to stop.
I lost my job in October and have officially been out of a full-time, 50+ hour work week for almost 3 months now. Instead of wallowing in my unemployment sorrows and getting frustrated with every failed interview, I’ve been booking epic trips. Yes, booking epic trips while I have minimal to no money coming in.
By the time I’m employed again, I will have visited 8 new countries and over 20 international cities. With the intention of starting a full time position in March, I will look back on my 4 months of unemployment with a great appreciation for this time to reprioritize what is truly important.
Follow the steps below to get your next adventure underway. If you’re employed, even better, you’re already one step ahead of me with regular paychecks rolling in. Just use those vacation days wisely, plan ahead, and leave those excuses behind!
Make a list.
Make a list of all of the places you dream to see. If you’re anything like me, then your list will be extremely long and the order will be ever changing. Prioritize the places you think are important to see now, places that might change in the near future. Think about the adventures in which you need good health and that may require intense activity to enjoy. You can relax on a beach anytime but you won’t be able to boulder up mountains and withstand long journeys forever.
The first thing I did when I found out my office was closing, was book a flight to Santiago, Chile. Don’t hesitate with these things. You can spend all the time in the world telling yourself why you shouldn’t book this trip or by thinking what else the money could be going towards. Remind yourself how important it is to experience other cultures and that the best way to grow as a person is to see the world.
You wouldn’t hesitate in making that online purchase from Amazon, so don’t hesitate in experiencing a new and exciting adventure. First book your flights and the rest will fall into place. Flights are a paint to cancel after 24 hours, so this will force you to take the leap into planning your next adventure.
No one should hold you back from your next adventure. Don’t wait on others to commit to the trip with you. From my experience, it’s way more exhausting to book trips and travel with others. Think about having to please everyone you’re traveling with and how much of a pain it is to get everyone to agree on a game plan.
The process should be easy and it only adds a headache when you have to convince your friends to join you. Be bold and book your trip alone. Or better yet, find someone who wants to go just as badly as you do and takes no convincing.
With the right attitude, you can make friends wherever you go in the world and I can guarantee, they will be the best travel buddies you can find. Plus, you can provide accommodation for one another while you travel to each other’s home country. Free lodging is the best lodging, especially when it’s from a local!
Like all uncharted territory, traveling alone is scary at first, but I promise it’s the most rewarding experience you could ever give yourself.
Save your money.
Fill your life with adventures, not things. Look at where your money goes and where you can afford to make changes in your spending habits. Make your own lunch! The average American consumer spends roughly $53 a week or $2,746 per year on lunch. That money could cover more than just your airfare on your next adventure.
If you know you want to plan a trip, prioritize what you need versus what you want. You’ll realize very quickly that saving money is much more manageable with a set goal in mind. Picking up a part time job helps significantly. I’ve been dancing at parties with Pure Event Group on the weekends for 9+ years now. All of the money I earn here, goes right to my adventure fund. Working 4-6 Saturday evenings can pay for an entire trip!
Another great way to save up for your adventure is to set up your paychecks to automatically save $100 right into a separate savings account. You won’t even realize this money is missing and it will feel incredible to see that at the end of the year you’ll have about $2,400 to put towards your vacation.
Open a credit card that can help you earn miles. This is the easiest way to get free airfare. The best credit card to open right now to earn 50k miles (which is a round trip ticket almost anywhere!) is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can open yours with this online application. Plus, this card has NO foreign transaction fees which is VERY important for when you are traveling internationally.
With this card you will earn 2X points on travel and dining in restaurants world wide and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
It’s so easy to research how much a trip may cost you on the internet. Create a spreadsheet for how much you plan to spend on the following:
- ground transportation
- guided tours
Always add enough buffer bucks for emergencies or better yet, souvenirs. For every week away, I like to add $250 buffer bucks to my budget.
SkyScanner and Google Flights are great ways to explore your flight options and prices. AirBnB and Booking.com are ideal websites for lodging research since they provide tons of options ranging from high end accommodations to hostels. Here’s $35 off your AirBnB stay!
Celebrate your next adventure.
Invite your friends to join along after you’ve committed. This will take the pressure off as you know you will manage on your own but it never hurts to extend the invite to those you know will be good travel companions! Post your trip to social media and you will be shocked to see how many of your friends were trying to plan the same exact trip or how your trip may overlap with someone else’s. I’ve met up with tons of friends and acquaintances this way.
Once you start connecting with people in other countries, it’s easy to share your itineraries with them on Facebook and plan to meet up with them in advance so you know you will always find friends in a foreign lands. Which is my absolute favorite part!
No more excuses, where will you go next? Feel free to meet me in Barcelona, Morocco and London next month!