A few weeks ago, a friend asked me where they should start if they want to travel more. This got me to thinking about my own journey to becoming a frequent traveler. Here’s my guide to making more time and space in your life for travel.
Photo Credit: Element 5 Digital on Unsplash
1. Change your mindset
Here’s some real talk: traveling is a privilege and it costs money. Growing up my family did not take family vacations. The lion share of our travels revolved around driving to church conferences and occasional family reunions.
I write all this to say that you don’t have to grow up traveling to become an avid traveler. The key is changing your mindset and making travel a priority. While traveling does cost money, it does not have to be expensive. If you view travel as an accessible goal, you can work towards it. Which brings me to my second tip.
2. create a travel fund
Now that travel is a priority for you, it should be a part of your monthly budget. Set aside a certain amount or percentage of your paycheck for your travel fund. I allocate 15% of each paycheck to my travel fund. I recommend setting up an auto transfer so you won’t be tempted to skip a week or two.
Be sure to put your travel money in a separate bank account that is difficult to access; this will reduce temptation to withdraw money and use it for other purposes. Select a bank with a high interest rate. I chose Ally Bank for these exact reasons. It’s an online savings account without a debit card, and has a high interest rate.
3. Get your passport
This may seem like a no-brainer, but get your passport! If you have your travel docs ready, you will be able to jump on international flight deals quickly.
A passport book costs about $145 and takes 6-8 weeks to process. You’ll need to apply in person at your local post office. Be sure to bring the application, proof of citizenship, and a passport photo.
The U.S. State Department is hosting a number of passport fairs this fall to help first-time applicants obtain their passports. Visit their website to locate an event near you.
For students, be sure to speak to your study abroad office and look online for scholarships. Many universities and community organizations offer financial assistance for passports.
4. find your tribe
There are a wealth of online travel communities, providing valuable resources on everything from where to travel to the best travel credit cards. There’s a group for everyone, from black travelers to women traveling solo. Being in a group of like-minded travelers will no doubt inspire you to travel more. Plus, you’ll have folks willing to meet up with you around the world. Do a quick search on Facebook or Meet Up to find your tribe.
5. get comfortable flying solo
If you wait for your friends to travel, you’ll be waiting for a long time. I’m a big proponent of solo travel, but I also realize it takes time to build up confidence for your first trip. The best way to prepare yourself is doing things solo in your area. Seeing a movie, going shopping, or eating dinner alone are all great starts.
Even if you’re not ready for a solo trip, you’ll feel more empowered on your next group trip. Chances are everyone won’t have the exact same interests and you’ll want some time alone. By practicing at home, you’ll be ready to explore on your own internationally.
6. start domestic
Don’t let Instagram fool you. Domestic travel is traveling too! Have a long weekend free? Take a quick getaway to somewhere in the United States. Thanks to budget airlines, it’s easy to find cheap domestic flights and keep trip costs low. Exploring more of the United States is one of my goals for 2020.
7. travel by deal, not destination
Since airfare is one of the biggest trip expenses, focus on finding the cheapest flights. Rather than looking for a specific destination, let the flight price dictate where you go. There’s something fun and interesting to do in any new place, so you’ll be sure to have a good time. Plus, your dream destination will still be there when you get back.
8. be flexible
One of the keys to traveling on a budget is being flexible. Having flexible dates and traveling during low season can save you a hefty amount of money. For my trip to Puerto Rico, I left on a Saturday instead of a Monday, saving me $100 round trip.
9. just do it
This is the most important tip: get out and travel! Like the famous Nike tagline goes, just do it! You won’t regret it.
Read my Budget Travel Rules for more tips on how to shift your mindset and travel more often.