I am a firm believer that everything is possible, that the universe listens to our needs and our wants and that most often than not, it delivers. IF you are willing to work hard for it.
When I first started getting into my travel craze I knew exactly where all I wanted to go to, but I had no idea how to actually get there. I looked into cheap accommodations like hostels, I considered sleeping on someone’s couch, I searched for jobs abroad, volunteering in some remote places and even backpacking my way through the world, becoming one of those nomads hopping from one cool place to the next. As I delved deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole I realized that I am no longer in my twenties, that comfort is still quite important to me and that with my bad back I probably shouldn’t be backpacking anywhere.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I stumbled upon a status update from someone I know. She was ranting about being a young entrepreneur but never being able to go on a vacation, mainly because of the lack of funds. It touched my heart. I too have been there. Feeling that urge and need to get away, dreaming of that ultimate vacation then hearing my bank account quietly laughing, saying “Bitch, please!”.
How many of us haven’t been there? Chances are you are probably in that same situation right now. Hell, I am there with you, dreaming of my next trip, without a real clue of how to get there. While most of us would dream it and forget it, I choose to dream it then plan it. Why leave that great travel experience in dreamland, while you could be making it into a reality?
I am by no means a know-it-all when it comes to travel, nor do I proclaim to be. I’ve had just a few sponsored trips in the three years of travel blogging but all my other travels were paid out of my own pocket. “How does she do that?”, you ask. Blood, sweat and tears, honey.
But enough chatting. Time to stop dreaming and start planning. Are you ready?
Do a budget
Make sure you add everything related to your trip; plane ticket, accommodation, car rental, travel insurance, suitcase (in case you need one), activities, tours, food, entertainment, shopping and then cramp it all into that budget. It’s important to get a realistic idea of what the trip will cost you. Your dream cmes with a price tag and the more realistic that price tag is the better.
Work Work Work
Of course it takes hard work to realize your dreams. You didn’t think I was gonna give you an easy way to get to that trip, did you? I can hear your frustration. How are you supposed to save for a trip if you’re barely getting by as it is? Some of us have children and other responsibilities and time is a luxury that most of us don’t have, but have you ever considered a part time job on the side? Ask yourself this: “What am I really good at? What talents do I have?”
You can write, design, consult, teach, bookkeep or sing in restaurants if that’s your talent. These are all great ways of earning some extra cash on the side. Use your special power, Supergirl.
Cut your expenses
Open a separate savings account specifically for your travel needs and start putting those pennies in there. Do you eat out more than once a week? What about cutting back to once every two weeks? Do you buy lunch everyday? What about making yourself a sandwich and taking that to work instead? Do you really need that $100 a month gym membership if you only go once in a while? Running is free and so is climbing stairs. Try that for a while. Surely by now you know how to do your own nails? No need to go to the salon every week and your fake nails are doing more harm to your nail anyway (yes, my island sisters. I can hear you cussing me now). Do you really need to pay for cable when everything tv related is available online? And I’m sure we can all do with less pounds so what about temporarily stopping with drinking? No pain, no gain, people. See where all you can cut back and save on, at least until you’ve come back from your trip. Unless you’re like me, of course and you start saving all over again for your next adventure.
The family that saves together
This is especially for those of you with kids. Get the children and your spouse or partner involved in the savings. Find ways of making it fun for the kids. Explain to them that they can either have the ice cream now at home or with Mickey Mouse in Disney World. Explain to your husband that although socializing is great, he can do with a day or two away from whatever he is spending his money on. Make saving for the vacation a family affair.
We humans tend to go into full on desperation whenever we can’t get what we want. We get negative, emotional, angry, sad. You start feeling really stuck. Don’t!
I live on an island most people would consider paradise. Whenever I feel like it’s all a bit too much, I head to the beach. It relaxes me, helps me sort my thoughts and best of all, it’s free. I’m sure your hometown has its great free experiences too.
Book that ticket
If you have 6 months or more before your next trip, why not just buy that ticket? Chances are the price for tickets to your preferred destination are still low so far in advance. My husband and I were alerted of an Air France special to Paris a few months ago and went out on a limp and just bought the tickets with no idea if we would be able to afford the trip by the time our booked date got here or without a clue of where we would be staying. (Side note: Fate was cruel enough to send us Irma and the trip was postponed by the airline. So Paris is in the books for this year instead) But whether we are ready or not those non-refundable tickets have been bought, which means that trip is going to happen. This gives us the drive we need to save for the rest of the trip. “I wish” now becomes “I must”.
Savvy is as savvy does
Be a smart traveler. Book at the right time and save lots of money. I love Google Flights and I am on it every chance I get checking for flight specials. I have email alerts set up for my destinations and I always make sure to check on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday between 9 am and 5 pm, as I find these to be the times when tickets are at their lowest. Search for open dates to increase your chances for special deals. Follow your favorite airline and hotels on social media to stay in the loop of specials. Try to stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Eat breakfast at the vacation rental and save some money there. If you’re flying from a Caribbean island to the US or Canada, try flying on a Friday as it is usually the day when planes get into the Caribbean full but return empty. Empty seats generally mean special deals. Flying back on a weekday helps keep the price low. And for fuck’s sake, travel outside of popular travel periods like summer vacation and spring break. You will not only save on plane tickets but also the frustration of navigating through overcrowded airports.
Sell sell sell
No doubt you have tons of unwanted crap in your house that you or your family can totally do without. That video game your kids no longer play with, that workout video you have never used, that dress that didn’t fit but you’re keeping for slimmer days can all be sold. Join a flea market in your area or organize your own yard sale. Turn your clutter into cash. It’s genius.
The above are based on my own personal opinions and experiences. Don’t think for a moment that I have it all figured out. I don’t. I too struggle with staying on track to reach my goal amount for my next trip, I too get frustrated at times and I too think of giving up. But I know that with hard work and dedication I can achieve all that I want and that the universe is always listening. Be prepared to make some sacrifices, take a chance every now and again and dare to start planning your dream vacation today. Paulo Coelho said it best: Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.