Traveling is something that everyone wants to do.
Going to other cities, countries, and continents allows you to experience how other people live, express themselves through language, and form a culture that is all their own. It opens your mind to new possibilities and refreshes your perspective on the world around you.
It’s also incredibly exciting to be able to get out of your comfort zone and discover opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to at home.
If you say that you don’t want to travel more often or at all, you’re either lying to yourself, or our rigid societal system and poor socializing have ruined you. So feel free to stop reading right now.
But for the rest of the sane and starry-eyed closet nomads out there, I’m here to tell you that travel is possible for you. No matter what country, lack of a group, current lack of funds, sex, or otherwise.
The secret is in the planning. But I’ve already taken the liberty of doing that for you. So prepare yourself to learn how you can travel anywhere in the world, with only 4 months of preparation time.
Go Take The Time Off Of Work Right Now
The biggest reason (excuse) standing in the way of you going on a life-changing vacation is that you won’t let yourself.
You’ve created this idea in your mind that you’re too busy, your kids will be too much to handle, you don’t (and never will) have “enough” money or that traveling is for “other people”. But that mentality is poisonous, and in all reality, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Once you realize that taking your big vacation is a mindset challenge (even if you’re traveling on a budget), then you can make progress and take the first step.
What is that you might ask?
It is telling your boss that you’ll be taking time off. I don’t know where you work, how your vacations are set up or any other specifics, but make it happen somehow. Use your vacation and sick days if you have to, ask for a raise, or request extended vacation time in addition to taking on more responsibility. Do not accept no for an answer.
Do not accept no for an answer. Even if you have only accumulated 5 days off and use two weekends as padding on either side of the trip. That’s 9 potential days!
Be sure to let your boss know that you are severely overworked, stressed, and that you’ve been slaving over the company with no real time off in a while (based on the fact that you’re reading this article you probably won’t be lying).
Taking this step, creates your dream and makes it real. It gives you a tangible goal to shoot for and that will encourage you through moments of doubt or weakness. Once you make the time, you will fill it.
Do that right now. Or tomorrow if you’re not currently in the office. Schedule out the 5-9 days for a vacation for 4 months in advanced.
Find The Right Trip
Analysis Paralysis is a very real thing. Part of what is stopping you from taking your dream vacation is the fact that the world is so big and there are so many choices. It can be hard to overcome that feeling of being overwhelmed .
That’s why you’re going to brainstorm. Right now.
Step 1. Get out a notebook (if you don’t have one, grab a few pieces of paper). Start out by writing down the top 10 countries that you’ve always dreamt about, heard about that sound interesting, or at the very least, the first that come to mind.
For each location, write a small 3-5 sentence summary of why you’d like to visit there. It doesn’t matter how seemingly small or obscure the reason. The purpose of this exercise is to allow yourself to dream . Take a moment to truly stop and feel what it would be like to experience the magic of an exciting and unfamiliar place.
Step 2. Pull out your favorite computing device and pull up the google (or the yahoo or the bing depending on your preference) and head over to Kayak or Expedia or whichever travel data aggregate you prefer. Then search for round trip prices to each destination.
Record whatever the number is for each place. For now, this is simply to get a feel for where your budget is and what the location is. Your plane ticket shouldn’t cost any more than 1/4 of your monthly income. But budgeting and pricing the trip out will come later, for now, write all the costs down.
Also, since you are going to be going in 4 months (this is non-negotiable), be sure that the weather in your intended destination matches your preferences. Remember, it’s your dream trip!
If you’re having trouble deciding on places here are some really great suggestions based on the kind of person you are and what you are seeking experience wise:
- Amsterdam – You’re pretty laid back, and getting wonderfully lost in the city sounds perfect.
- Italy – You’d like to eat and sightsee your way through your vacation.
- Australia – Vibrant, full of life, and there’s always something exciting around the corner.
- Sweden – Peaceful, modern, and contains some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.
- Mexico – Warm, diverse, and sure to be a good time.
- Ireland – You’ve brought your camera, prepared your liver, and welcome new friends with open arms.
- Tokyo – Incredibly progressive, mesmerizing, and boundless fine cuisine. It’s the ultimate city.
- Spain – The conversation starts and ends with food and wine. Gorgeous landscapes and passionate people.
- Vietnam – Adventurous and in love with culture shock.
Destination? Check. Now for money talk.
Paying For Your Vacation (The Smart Way)
There are right and wrong ways to plan and pay for your dream vacation. This is the right way.
First step. Figure out what your monthly budget is. The whole thing precisely, not simply a quick estimate or round figure. Making your life work around a trip doesn’t happen easily so I’m talking about down to the penny.
Well, maybe not down to the exact penny. But you get the gist of it.
Once you’ve figured out how many benjamins you’re stacking to the ceiling every month, it’s time to engage in what I’m positive will be one of your favorite new activities.
Budget cuts. Sweet sweet budget cuts.
The travel destination of your dreams isn’t going to happen by accident. This is necessary. Start by looking at areas that you spend small amounts of money on of the same item throughout the month. Some examples are:
- Coffee. Instead of grabbing that cup of [insert coffee giant/specialty shop of your choosing here], go to your local grocery storage facility and purchase your coffee beans in bulk. Or, if grindin’ the beans doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can buy the coffee pre-grounded. But the benefit is likely to save you $50-75 dollars a month assuming you have a $4.25 cup of something at least 15 times.
- Fast food. Look, this is a judgment free zone. Even I enjoy the occasional taco bell or chipotle every now and then. But eating out regularly ends up costing you a lot of money, and isn’t good for your body either. Here is a pretty awesome guide to meal prepping like a champ fi you really want to go all out. But for most people, figure out how much you typically go out in a given month, cut back on 25% that per month, and use that new budgeted amount to get groceries with. If you spend an average of $8 per fast food meal and eat out at least 12 times a month, you could save yourself a cool $96. You can get so many potatoes and flank steaks with that money! (or help pay for a trip)
- Driving. Pay attention to your driving habits. If you’re someone who has a tight schedule that requires you to drive a lot then keep on keepin’ on. But for most of you, it’s more about being careless with your habits. Take time to record where you drive, and how many miles you drive in a given month. See if you can combine routes, catch a ride with a colleague to work and split the costs, or only run errands twice a month but plan your outings more carefully. Assuming your car tank has at least 10 gallons, and that you drive 900-1200 miles a month, with gas around $3.00, and getting 30 mpg, driving a simple 250 miles less per month can save you $30.
The point is to find areas where you can shave off relatively unnoticeable costs that you won’t miss but that are adding up over time. These simple changes I’ve mentioned would save you $1000-1200 in 4 months. That’s already enough for a pretty fun trip for most rational human beings.
You need to stop being a hoarder
That’s right. You heard me. There are entirely too many things in your house, apartment, car, etc that you have, but don’t need or simply never use. It’s time to put those afterthoughts to good use.
Grab that notebook (or collection of loose papers) that I made you get out in the beginning and a pen of your choosing once again. Take the time to go through your place of dwelling one room at a time, and make a list of things you don’t wear or use often (at least once a week on average in any given month).
After you’ve gone around to every room and done this, sit down and consider if you need these items. Or more importantly, if you sold them, would you miss them as much as you would enjoy the profits and potential vacation?
I’ll be willing to be your old friend flintstone Christmas sweater from 8 years ago isn’t worth a handmade churro in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
Here are some great resources to take advantage of to get rid of unwanted items:
I’m confident you’ll be hooked after your first sale and you’re rolling in newfound cash and freedom. Go America.
Figuring Out The Cost Of Your Trip
Last up, is that actual cost of this experience of a lifetime. You’re gonna need that notebook again. Get used to it.
Remember that simply making the trip happen and going is your number one priority. So for some of you, that means getting the idea of renting a private sailboat, eating out at 5-star restaurants every day, and spending a thousand dollars to rent out a private zip line might be out of the question.
Here’s how you’re going to plan out the cost of your travel.
First things first, remember that figure you put together for an estimate of the round trip cost? Start there. It’s time to refine that. Start by making two columns on your worksheet. One for the item and a column beside it for it’s price. Then take the following into consideration when crunching the numbers.
- Airfare – Based on your sick days/vacation days, and the realistic amount of time you can leave your life, add two weekends on to that and you have your trip lifespan. Go back to Kayak or Expedia and get the ticket prices for 4 months in advanced. Record that in the price column.
- Next up, your passport. Traveling out of the country requires you to have a passport book. If you don’t have one. It costs about $140 for the book, processing fee, and a quick passport photo of yourself to be taken in the right dimensions and correct kind of paper.
- Daily expenses. Obviously, you don’t want to plan everything 100% and you will have some surprises for your destination. But for estimates on how much money you can expect to budget per day check out this great daily expense tracking travel guide.
- Getting some shut eye. Depending on your preference there are many sleeping arrangements to choose from. In some countries, you can find overnight campgrounds for as low as $5 a night, or a hostel for $10-15. Or for you traditionalists, there’s always the regular hotel option as well. Using those same travel sites, find the prices for a hotel in your desired destination, and multiply that by the number of days you’ll be gone minus one (departure). Here are some ideas other than only using a hotel for a good night sleep.
- Special activities. Pick three really unique things about your destination that are going to cost you a little extra money but are unmissable opportunities. Find out how much they cost and record that as well.
- Add up all of the above costs for a final trip estimate.
Now that you have a total amount, divide that number by 4 to get the average that you have to save each month from now until then in order to take the trip. Based on the cutbacks in the “paying for the trip section” make adjustments in areas of your life that you usually spend on but don’t need until you have moved around enough for the trip.
This way, you haven’t put any extra stress or pressure on yourself to find a way to make extra money or go into debt all for the sake of taking your vacation.
Get Excited. You Deserve This!
All too often, life feels like a maze that you’re trapped in and can’t find your way out of. But it isn’t meant to be lived that way. The human mind craves excitement, novelty, and fresh experiences to keep it sharp.
Also, your happiness matters. There is an incredible amount of wonder in the world and so many different cultures to explore. The only thing standing in your way from taking advantage of the is yourself, and any excuses that you make not to take the chance.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get excited about your trip! Make it as real as possible to yourself, and the more you do, the more likely you are to let it happen.
Best of luck on your travels. I’d love to know how it goes.
Now that you’re all ready to take the trip of a lifetime, leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. Do you have any other travel tips? Or, let us know how excited you are to leave! Thanks for reading.