One of my goals for the year is to travel more! It seems like a lofty goal, however, since having a baby, but with a new RV, a boat, and living in a huge tourism destination, I think it’s totally doable with my friend Sarah’s tips below! She blogs over at CuriousSarah.com and shares vacationing tips and ideas for budget travel. Definitely bookmark her page to help plan your next vacation!
If you’ve ever “liked” a picture of an astounding foreign landscape or searched for low priced airfare, chances are you’ve come across one of those bloggers who travel year-round and “lives a life of travel”. And it goes without saying that at some point in your internet binge, you felt jealous. Right?
“That’s great for them”, you mutter to yourself. “But I’m not going to sell my home and quit my job for the sake of wanderlust”. And I don’t blame you.
Perhaps you got wrapped up in the rat race; the mortgage, student loans, car payments and maybe baby car seats. Don’t feel bad. If you postponed your dreams in the pursuit of the American dream don’t feel guilty because you love your family, and you’re grateful you have a place to call your own and you needed a car. Millions of people around the world would, and do, sacrifice everything to have that.
My point is that it’s ok if you’re not one of those permanent nomads. Embrace your life and your responsibilities. But find a balance. Maybe you’re not a self-actualized vagabond but everyone needs a vacation at least once a year. With some strategy, planning and a little resourcefulness, you too can recharge in whatever way is most fulfilling to you.
Whenever I have a seemingly huge task ahead, I try to break it down into its elementary parts and take baby steps.
What do you need to take that vacation? In most cases, it’s just two things.
Time and Money.
So let’s tackle those two variables one by one.
If you’re fortunate enough to have vacation time, even paid vacation time, good for you. Problem solved and you can read the next part. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, here are some suggestions to carve out a week or more of free time.
-Think differently about your raise/promotion. Huffington Post writer, Wendy Simmons, says that by forgoing a raise that works out to be another $40 per week, opt for another two or three days of (paid) vacation instead.
-Talk to your boss about working remotely. Businesses all over the country are starting to adopt this trend, even for just a day out of the week. Studies show that employees who work from home are generally happier and up to 13% more productive (according to Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University). Tell your boss they can save on office supplies.
-Plan trips around holidays. Sure, the lines will be longer and everything a bit more crowded but if that’s the only time you can take, go for it.
If you feel a bit strapped for cash on a regular basis, it can be difficult to set aside funds for a trip. The good news is that with a little consideration, many of us can find wiggle room in our budgets.
There are already a ton of posts and articles about ways to save money (my favorite website is The Penny Hoarder so I won’t go into that. However, there are two simple concepts that seem to go untouched in this category.
-My first and favorite strategy is to take a detailed look at your finances. Look over expenses for one month and study each and every transaction. Then categorize them, even if it means writing it down and color-coding.
Pay special attention to your fun/entertainment budget. Are there unnecessary recurring purchases like eating out, coffee, beer and so on? For the most part, you can’t do much to lower your electric and Internet bills so don’t worry about that. Focus on the variables over which you have control and work on those. It may take a couple months to see what works.
If you usually have a Grande Mocha from Starbucks every morning on your way to work, putting that change into savings could give you $1,172 in one year!
My second strategy is to make a habit of squirreling away money. So many people are discouraged against saving because after all their bills, they only have a small amount left and they figure, “what’s the point?” What’s important isn’t the size of your contribution, what really makes the difference is establishing the habit and letting time work for you.
If you save just $20 per paycheck (assuming you are paid bi-weekly), you’ll have around $520 at the end of the year. You could have even more if you saved all your change. With just a few simple changes, you can save $1,672 for your yearly vacation.
“But Sarah,” you ask. How am I supposed to have a vacation for $1,672?
If you travel hack using credit card miles (like The Points Guy), you can earn a free or cheap flight. Using this method, I have flown to Mexico for $27 and Spain for $5.50. In a nutshell, find a credit card that offers you rewards for things you’d buy anyway. You could use your rewards for airfare, hotels, and sometimes a credit on your statement.
Using AirBnB or any of the various home stay websites out there, you could get a week in a private apartment for $100. And you have $1,500 to spend however you please. I’ve used Couchsurfing to stay for free in three countries and I used WorkAway to organize a volunteer stay for about $3 per day (with all the homemade food I could eat). I’ve heard great things about House Sitting websites to which you pay a small annual fee that is less than a quarter of a nice hotel room, and you get more space and a kitchen!
These suggestions might not get you a luxury vacation in those over-water bungalows in Fiji (although you could certainly implement these tips to accomplish that) but all we need is time away in a new place. If it really means that much to you, which it should, make traveling a priority.
And when I say “traveling,” that doesn’t mean you have to get on a plane or cross any borders. There are plenty of adventures to be had in your own backyard.
The Dalai Lama suggests that we go somewhere new once per year. Listen to one of the wisest people on Earth and make travel a priority. And don’t feel guilty if you decide to take your vacation instead of flying back home for Thanksgiving.
Sarah is a writer loving life in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not reading to her baby in Spanish, running her husky or drinking wine with her husby, she’s either hiking, writing or reading about budget travel. She has also been known to practice calligraphy with her morning coffee from time to time. For more details on how to fit a vacation into your busy life, or what it’s like to get tattooed in Thailand, visit CuriousSarah.com.
So will you be using these tips for travel? Where are ya headed for your next vacation?! I’m hoping for a camping trip to the Keys or the Ocala National Forest..sometime before it gets WAY to hot in Florida!