How to Turn Your Travel Dreams into a Reality !
Many of us long to travel the world, and see all the sights that Earth has to offer. Unfortunately, most of us simply cannot afford to give into our desires in this regard. Traveling has always been expensive, but its cost has skyrocketed in the last 5-10 years, as fuel prices have risen drastically. These days, you need to set aside a good $2,000-$5,000 for a good, overseas vacation. That may sound like a huge chunk of change, which it is, but if you plan an amazing trip, the money you spend will be well worth it.
With the cost of travel rising almost daily, we need to be somewhat realistic with our travel goals. If your goal has always been to travel around the entire world, it may be time to give up that dream and settle on something more realistic. It’s better to go on a fun, affordable trip while you are still young and capable than it is to plan a dream trip your entire life, and never be able to go. This article is designed to help you take all the dreams you have about traveling the world, and simplify them into manageable, affordable steps.
Prioritize Travel Destinations
Your first step is to prioritize your travel destinations (check out our article on tips for choosing a travel destination). If you’re like most people, you probably have a list of countries you would like to visit. If you haven’t put this list on paper (or a Word document for easy editing) yet, now is the time to do so. Next, weigh the pros and cons of visiting each country/area on your list, and do some extensive research into each country. Find out things like the cost of airfare to that area, and the cost of living there, and find out about peak travel times to that area. Once you have compiled a ton of information about every destination on your list, you will be able to make an educated decision concerning where you want to go. Start by eliminating the easy ones – destinations that are too expensive, too crowded, or low on your list of “must-sees” should go first. It will get harder and harder to eliminate destinations after a while, but just keep in mind that the more realistic your travel goals are, the easier it will be to make them reality.
Guestimate Travel Cost
Now it’s time to crunch some numbers. Once you’ve planned out what destination(s) you would like to visit, figure out what time of the year you want to travel (check out our article on tips for traveling on the cheap). If your timeline is flexible that’s even better, because you will be able to plan around the cost of airfare. Plane tickets are way cheaper during the tourism “off-season” than they are during peak travel seasons. Do some research into the cost of plane tickets, and maybe plan 2-4 separate trips (to the same destination) during different times of the year. Note the cost of airfare in each situation. Next, research online or call around to hotels, hostels, etc. to figure out the rough cost of lodging in the areas you plan on visiting. If you’re on a budget, don’t be afraid of hostels – many of them are just as clean and well-kept as hotels, but much cheaper. This is NOT true for all hostels, however, so make sure to do your research and read some hostel reviews before staying at one. You should also get a rough idea for how much you will be spending on food, activities, etc. Lastly, take the final numbers you have (the rough cost of airfare, lodging, food and activities) and multiply them by 1.2. This will give you some wiggle room (20%, to be exact) in your budget to cover unforeseen expenses.
Analyze Your Finances
Now you have a rough idea of how much your vacation is going to cost you – your dreams are one step closer to becoming reality. Unfortunately, now is the time to return to your own personal reality, and analyze your financial standing. Take a look at your assets and weigh them against your liabilities. Consider all your assets, whether liquid or not, but keep in mind that you still need to be saving for your retirement. Try to get a rough idea of how much you can spend without damaging your retirement. If you have enough to cover your travel plans, great! If not, you need to take steps to help save you some money.
Save, Save, Save!
If you completed the previous step and realize that you have enough money saved to travel without any further saving, then skip this step. If you are like the majority of people these days, you will need to follow this step to help you save up some money for your travels. There are hundreds of ways you can save money, and if you really want some in-depth information on frugality, there are plenty of sites on the Web to help you. I’ll get the ball rolling by giving you some basic ideas.
Reducing your car usage can save you a ton of money. If you drive a lot, try to cut your mileage in half. Hitch rides with friends, ride your bike, or take the bus. If you don’t drive much, see if you can eliminate using your car altogether. With companies like ZipCar around, it’s really not that hard, and you can save a TON of money doing this.
Stop eating out! Eating out at restaurants is great, but if you find yourself eating out more than once per week, you are wasting a lot of money on food. Learn how to cook for yourself, and cook large batches of easy dishes – soups, stews, stir-fry’s, etc.
Plan Your Trip
Once you have the money saved to pay for your estimated expenses (remember to add on 20% to be safe), it’s time to plan your trip! Try to lock down tickets months in advance so that you can get the best price. Also, call ahead to hotels/hostels/etc to make reservations. Try to have as many elements of your trip pre-arranged as you can, so that there are no surprises. Lastly, relax, and enjoy your trip – you’ve earned it!
We hope this article was helpful in making your travel dreams a reality. Spend the time and do the research, you’ll be rewarded with memories that will last a lifetime. Please make sure to comment below, letting us know of stuff you do to prepare for traveling.