How Can You Afford to Travel? – Travel Tips
Okay, so this is always the top question we get when people ask about our travels. “Wow! How can you afford that trip to France, you must be rich?” I usually resist the urge to respond “how can you afford not to travel?” or “How can you afford that car, you must be rich?” It is hard, in all seriousness. This is not going to be one of those “stop buying coffee every morning” and “cut your cable to save for travel” articles. Those are worthwhile strategies for saving money, but it’s not really the answer. I am going to go ahead and let you in on the secret. The secret to being able to afford to travel is commitment. It really is that simple.
Commit that you are going to take that trip to Paris that you have always dreamed of, and you will see the Mona Lisa in all her majesty. Commit that you will see Michael Angelo’s David in person after you have consumed as much gelato as possible. Commit that you will eat bratwurst under a linden tree in Germany with sauerkraut, mustard, and potato salad. By committing, I mean pay for something that commits you to the trip. How did you pay for your car? Well like most people you probably made a down payment (commitment) and then made installments (continued commitment). Who really has enough money lying around to just go buy a car outright? The average person has to make payments. Guess what? Not too many of us (myself included) have enough money lying around to pay for a trip either. You’re going to have to make payments. If you’re planning an international trip get your passport (commitment) now. After you have paid the fee, taken your picture, and sent in the application: it would be such a shame to waste that hard earned money and time you put in to getting that passport. Right? You just made a commitment. Congratulations, that is the first and most important step in being able to afford to travel.
Okay so now that you have your passport you need to make a budget and a plan of how to get there. Give your self time to plan and save up. I’m suggesting, for the purpose of this example, one year to plan and save. Start with the biggest expense for most travelers: the plane tickets. Check online for flights this year during the month of next year that you wish to travel to get an estimate for cost. For example, I want to travel Oct 2019 so I check for prices for Oct. 2018, since 2019 flights will probably not be available for pricing yet. This is your first budget item. Plan on purchasing those flights 6 months in advance of travel so this gives you 6 months to save up for flights.
While you are saving for flights, you should have been researching your other budgetary items like hotels, train tickets, museum passes, etc. After you have booked your flights, proceed to booking accommodations as you will now have the dates locked in. Book your hotels as soon as you can afford them, as popular sites where everyone wants to go will be booked far in advance. You get the idea, hotels will be your next commitment after flights. Then possibly ground transportation, museum tickets, and food. Each step (commitment) followed the very first commitment. All of these items need proper attention but that’s not what this article is about. It’s about the secret to being able to afford to travel – commitment.
Think about how you bought that car, boat, house, or lawnmower. You made a commitment that you were going to buy that car by making a down payment. Then you continued to show your commitment by making monthly installments. You wouldn’t want to waste that initial down payment (commitment) but not making the payments after. You’re going to need to pay for your travel expenses in a similar way. The first step is committing (paying for something) that you will go. You can do this Traveler! Next thing you know you will be sitting on the lawn of Luxembourg Gardens sipping an espresso and wondering what took you so long to commit?