My husband and I have always known that travel would be a part of our lives, even once we had kids. Many people wonder how we can afford it. The simple answer is that it's important to us, so we budget for it the way others budget for a new car or a flat screen TV. If you live a moderately comfortable life, travel is possible for you, too, even if you think you can't afford it. I know not everyone truly can afford to travel, but many who say they can't really can. Perhaps they can't travel to China, but they can enjoy more modest trips. And many people who take trips to Disney World with their families spend far more on their vacations than we do. It's simply a matter determining your priorities.
We only own one TV and it's an OLD one with a tube. Our cable plan basically provides TV reception (you know, the cheap plan that costs about $10 per month). Our two cars are 5 years old. We bought one new back in 2007 but we bought the other used. Our cellphones are just phones. Not fancy phones with a data plan. Those things just aren't important to us. But travel...now there's something we really care about.
This isn't to say you need to forgo cable or a new car or a fancy phone. But if you are a regular reader of this blog, you’re either interested in exploring nature with children or learning about other cultures, so travel may be important to you too.
If you wish you could travel, maybe it's time to talk with your family about your priorities. I've had many people say something like, "I wish I could take a trip like that." So consider this...Is taking a trip important to you? To your spouse or partner? To your kids? Often, you really can afford to plan a trip with some changes in your spending.
I know you've heard it all before- cut the $5.00 latte from your daily purchases, pack a lunch instead of going out, carry a refillable water bottle instead of buying water. The list of ways to save money is endless. But, the truth is...you see those lists over and over again because they're true. Most of us can cut some daily expenses if we determine we'd like to use our money for a different purpose. The key is to decide what you want and go after it.
Once you decide to travel, the location you choose will have a big impact on your costs. For example, traveling to Italy in the summer will cost you a small fortune in air fare. We had planned to go to Italy last summer but changed plans when the budget didn’t allow it and went to Mount Desert Island in Maine. Our only real expenses were the cost of renting a cottage and gas for the drive up. Other than that, we cooked most meals at the cottage, so we had limited meal expenses. All of our outdoor recreation was free except for the cost of an inexpensive park pass for Acadia National Park. We could have spent even less money if we had chosen to camp.
If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend you read Alexis Grant's blog, The Traveling Writer. She backpacked solo through Africa and blogged about the experience. Recently she's been blogging about how to "Take a Leap" and go after your dreams. If you dream of travel, Lexi has some great advice to offer. While most of her recent advice is for folks wanting to take a professional leap and become a solopreneur, her ideas work for travel, too. (You can also search her archives for posts more specifically about travel).
Blogger Elizabeth J. Bird over at L’appel du Vide has also been offering money saving tips for travelers lately. And, if you’re a really adventurous traveler, check out Rolf Potts’ Vagablogging (author of Vagabonding). If you're interested in longer-term trips, he's the guy to read. You can spend less money traveling than you will living in the US for the same period of time if you're flexible and adventurous.
How have you budgeted for travel? Do you have any money saving tips for travelers?