“Own only what you can carry with you; Let your memory be your travel bag.” –Alexander Solzhenitsyn
This blog post was inspired by a simultaneous moment on Pinterest and Twitter (I know it’s not good for my brain, but I’m a multitasking maniac), when I saw the quote above and millions of photos of incredible destinations and I thought…I need to make that happen!
And then I thought…I can’t be the only one that feels this way!
And thus, after some research and thought, this post was born, for all of us out there that have been bitten by the travel bug but can’t seem to satiate our wanderlust.
It’s hard, when we’re all running at full force between family, work, obligations, etc. to remember to take a breather and put a little time and money towards travel. Travel, whether it be to exotic Bhutan, warm Hawaii, or close to home to the historical Hot Springs, AR, is an enriching experience that can improve us as individuals, help couples in a rut, provide release from day-to-day stress, and enhance our understanding the world and the people in it. And it doesn’t have to cost you a ton! Despite the benefits and excitement of planning a true vacation, we often forget to take the time to set a few travel goals for ourselves and make those once-in-a-lifetime memories happen. So today, I’m going to make suggestions for how you can compile your travel bucket list and discuss how you can make room in your budget for a memorable vacation. At the end of this blog, I’ve posted links to inspirational stories of everyday people that have made travel a focus in their lives.
How to Create Your Travel Bucket List
Set goals, and make them visual. The first step in reaching your travel goals is to, of course, identify what those goals are. Always wanted to take the kids to Disneyland? Write it down! Or maybe you want to tour the many castles of Europe instead, combining history with mystery? Write it down! Perhaps a particular experience is more the focus of your travel goals, such as Comic Con, a culinary tour of Italy, attending Carnival in Brazil, or wearing a fancy hat and sipping mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby. Whatever you can imagine, write it down.
Now you’ve got a list to start with, but lists are easily lost or forgotten. At this point, I recommend jumping on Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) or another platform that will help you organize yourself “visually”. If you’ve never been a Pinterest user, it’s a good time to start! Find and follow travel and destination boards, search for the places on your list, and maybe do a few general searches to inspire you. Pin events, places, experiences, food, and anything else that will inspire you to make it on that vacation. Human beings are very driven by the visual, so really being able to “see” your goals will help drive you forward. Prioritize your boards and focus on saving for one vacation. Be share that your board is shared with your friends, significant other, family, or anyone else you plan on traveling with.
You can also use a platform like TripBucket (www.tripbucket.com) an online community with the specific purpose of helping you identify, plan, and share your travel dreams; or try www.bucketlist.net, which is less specific, but connects people that may be able to help each other reach their lifelong goals. There’s always a plethora of mobile apps for travel bucket list creation too!
Once you’ve created your visual “list” of destinations and experiences, take a couple of your top priorities and print a breathtaking photo or spend $1.00 on a postcard and put it somewhere you’ll see every day, like the refrigerator, as a daily reminder of what you’re working towards. You can also set it as the desktop background on your computer or phone, which doubles as a great two-second pick-me-up when your work day gets a little monotonous.
Planning Travel Costs, and Making it Happen!
What’s your travel budget? Along with setting goals for where you want to travel, you’ll certainly need to set financial goals for your first trip. Determine what you need to save and attach that number to your screensaver, photo, or wherever else you place your travel inspiration. Be sure to be realistic – a 5-day trip to a specific destination in Europe may be more realistic than trying to tour the world on $3,000 in 15 days.
There are several resources out there to help you estimate travel costs, create travel budgets, and track expenses. Here are just a few suggestions:
- www.budgetyourtrip.com generates travel estimates and budgets from real travelers, giving you a realistic look at what people are actually spending.
- Lonely Planet has great tips on how to budget for a big trip, and includes a list of pre-vacation expenditures for consideration – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/europe/travel-tips-and-articles/76405.
- Have a love for spreadsheets? USA Today has a great step-by-step method for creating a travel budget in a spreadsheet, step-by-step.
Just be sure you don’t forget to include taxes and fees, tipping, pre-vacation costs (immunizations, travel insurance, and so on) in your budget.
Where will the money come from – how do you save for your vacation? Once you’ve determined what it will cost to make your first bucket list trip, you can start working towards that goal. It won’t be easy, and it will take careful planning and some sacrifices, but you can do it (it’s certainly worth it!).
- Make sure you’re already working with a budget and tracking expenses. This will help you see where money may be going unnecessarily and where you can save.
- Cut out and cut back. Two lattes a week at $5 each adds up to an extra $520.00 a year. Cut out that extra trip home during lunch, and eat at your desk to save on gas. Be more conscious of and cut back on energy use (it’s good for the planet too!) in your home, and put any savings towards your vacation. Do movie night at home with a $1.20 Red Box movie and some popcorn, instead of your usual night out at the movies. Stop any unnecessary automatic subscriptions (rarely watch NetFlix? At $10/mo., that’s an extra $120 a year you can put towards your trip instead). All of these small things can be easily cut out.
- Every penny counts. Change is easy to throw around or lose – start a travel fund jar that everyone can drop their loose change into to help save. Depending on the size of the jar, you might be surprised how many meals you can cover on a vacation once you’ve filled it to the top.
- Have a special talent or can work in a few extra hours of work a week? Use it to make a little extra vacation cash on the side. Websites like www.Freelancer.com, oDesk, and 99 Designs have created market places where digital designers, programmers, graphic artists and more can take on one-off projects for additional cash. TaskRabbit is a site that can help people find personal assistant work in their neighborhood or community, and Gigwalk gives assignments from companies looking for data and market research. If you can write, pitch to newspapers, magazines, or blogs that will pay you for your work. If you’re a talented crafter, knitter, artist, etc., sell your work at local bazaars or utilize sites like Etsy and eBay. Just make sure that anyone you’re providing services or selling items to will have a legit way to facilitate payment.
- Sell what you don’t need. Garage sale season is just around the corner, and if you’re a collector of antiques, you may want to also considering selling a few of them on Etsy or eBay to add to your vacation wallet.
Reach your travel goals for less. If you’re like most, you’ll likely be looking for ways to save money on your vacation, and we’ve got a few ideas to help with that too.
- Groupon and Living Social offer some killer ½ price deals if you’re willing to travel on certain dates or within a certain period of time. Keep these apps handy or monitor deals online – they’re much better for a flexible traveler, and occasionally have deals for four people or more. Just be sure that what you’re seeing in the deal isn’t something you could get for a better price with the provider directly if you cut out the bottle of champagne or went for a smaller room!
- The Huffington Post recently posted these helpful tips for budget traveling – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/15/cheap-travel-money-saving-budget-travel_n_2831813.html.
- Sign up for loyalty programs. When you travel anywhere, for business or otherwise, you want to make sure you’re earning rewards if the opportunity is available. That free hotel stay you earned can shave a good chunk of change off your travel budget.
- Follow travel providers and experts on social media (Twitter is a personal favorite because it’s real-time updates) and sign-up for e-mails for sale announcements, contests, and other bonuses that can get you one step closer to your travel dreams. Sometimes, it’s all about knowing where the opportunities are and taking them!
- Consider all of your options. Taking a flight from your hometown (e.g. via SeaPort Airlines – didn’t you see that coming?!?) might actually cost you less than the combined gas, airport parking, lost time costs, etc. that come along with driving. We’re not going to push this too hard, but it’s something to think about!
So take that first trip, rinse, and repeat. There’s no reason why, with some careful planning and inspiration, that you can’t start setting your travel goals and getting that bucket list completed – ready, set, GO!
A few additional articles to awe and inspire:
- CNN – 7-million-mile family shares travel secrets
- How I saved $30,000 to travel the world
- Don’t Ever Look Back – 5 Ways We Saved Over $30,00 in 12 Months for Our Round-The-World Trip
- 5 Great Ways to Save for Travel
Hope you enjoyed today’s post and Happy Travels!