Traveling is one of those things a lot of people say they love to do but don’t actually do it. And it’s easy to understand – traveling can be expensive. It’s seen as an indulgent expense, something that can only be done if you have the extra cash.
I make it a goal to take one trip every year. So far I’ve been to Iceland, Tanzania, Nepal, and South America, amongst other places. This year I went volcano boarding in Nicaragua. It was something that had been on my bucket list for a couple of years and I finally had the opportunity to do it. Next year? I’m not sure yet, but the thing is – I’m not rich. I’m a writer so obviously I don’t make a ton of money. Some of my trips I’ve saved up for over a 6 month period. Like all things in life, if you really want to do something, you just have to prioritize it.
If you make traveling a goal, do your research, create a budget, and start doing little things every day to contribute towards your travel goal you can easily make traveling a reality. Here’s some things you can start doing if you want to travel in 2015.
1. Stop making excuses.
You’ve wanted to travel for forever but there’s always something else in the way. Travel, just like anything else in life, is something you must prioritize if you want to make it happen. Stop making excuses for why you can’t do it and just decide you’re going to commit to it no matter what.
2. Start a bucket list.
Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? Start thinking about these things. Make a list of all the places you would love to see some day. Look at a map of your state, your country, the world, or wherever. Narrow down the places you want to go and where you can realistically see yourself going next year.
3. Do your research.
Check out sites likes Bootsnall or Matador Network. Those places offer awesome advice and tips on traveling all over the world. Start researching the cities or spots you absolutely have to hit on your trip. Learn about the local customs. Read up on the go-to places the locals rave about. Figure out how expensive the area is and start thinking about your budget.
4. Start keeping track of little purchases.
$5 cups of coffee, drunken food you buy but don’t even remember you ate the next day, impulse purchases in the checkout line. Keep your receipts. Pay closer attention to your bank account. Look at where your money is going to.
5. Rid yourself of those little purchases.
Once you realize the small worthless things you’re spending your money on decide what you can actively stop indulging in. Do you really need a cup of coffee every morning before work? It’s okay. Maybe you do. But then maybe decide if you’re going to get coffee every day you’re going to start limiting how often you go out. Figure out as many little purchases you can rid your wallet of and every time you actively make the decision to not spend the cash, add it to your travel budget.
6. Start asking your friends if they’d like to join you.
I’m a huge advocate of traveling solo and I absolutely recommend it but traveling with another person always makes things cheaper because you can split the cost. Ask your friends if any of them want to travel next year then figure out which ones are actually serious about it.
7. Volunteer every place you go.
If you’ve decided on going backpacking in a foreign country make it a priority to volunteer every place you go. Many times volunteer organizations will offer free accommodations (and sometimes meals) in exchange for time spent volunteering with them.
8. Consider working at a hostel.
Working at a hostel is similar to the same deal when you volunteer. A lot of hostels will offer a free place to stay and a meal or two every day in exchange for you working the bar or desk a few nights a week. If you’re traveling long term this can really help you save.
9. Decide to ditch the hotel.
Hostels and backpacking culture is definitely more popular in Europe and other places around the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t find the same in the U.S. Hostels have started popping up all over the country and they’re usually a lot cheaper and more fun than any hotel. I always use Hostel World when I want to find hostels in a city I’m visiting but Trip Advisor is an awesome resource as well. Try Couchsurfing too – it’s a great way to connect with locals and other travelers. Just make sure your Couchsurfing host is verified and has reviews.
10. Prepare to sacrifice for awhile.
Saving for traveling can be difficult because it’s not something that’s instantly gratifying. Understand you might not be indulging in all your usual pick-me-ups when you get your paycheck but it will be totally worth it once you’re out there on the road.
11. Keep the wanderlust alive.
While you’re in dire savings mode keep the wanderlust alive by browsing travel blogs, reading travel memoirs, or creating an inspiration travel board on Pinterest. Whenever I do these things it always reinforces the passion and the whole reason I’m doing what I’m doing.