For any number of reasons people, and perhaps yourself, believe international travel is expensive. This is a common misconception. Never forget, travel can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. The cheaper you make it the longer you can stay away. Cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty and constantly skimping on things, another misconception.
Pause for a moment and conjure up images in your mind of where in the world would you rather be right now. Then think to yourself what is stopping you from going there. At this point most people will say money, money is stopping me, not having enough, bills to pay, etc. What is really stopping you is you. Your decisions or your excuses.
Excuses are the primary reason none of us achieve what we are capable of.
Sure you can’t just up and go right now because of money, bills and commitments you may have but if you start planning now, re adjusting your priorities, habits, spending now and make a commitment to yourself, your dreams can and will become reality. Just set a date say twelve months from now and draw up a simple plan that will guide you financially and that will help you to remain focused upon your goal. Planning and sticking to the plan is the key. So many people don’t do this, then they wonder why or make excuses as why they failed. Without sticking to a plan you will lose your way, your focus will slip as will your savings and your dream to travel will remain exactly that.
The following is a quick outline of some travel tips on how you may structure your plan.
Take control of your spending – Sounds obvious enough, but how? Work out exactly how much you spend on everything, rent, bills, food, insurances etc. Hopefully it is less than you earn for the remainder you must put aside for your trip.
Now that you know where all your money is going (sometimes this can be a shock) it’s time to see where you can make some spending adjustments that won’t impact too much on your life style. In other words stop buying crap you don’t really need to get by like new cloths, DVDs, computer games, TV’s or whatever. Remember the more you save now, the more you will have for travelling which means you can stay away longer or live it up more when on the road.
You must make your upcoming travels your priority. Until you do, you won’t save enough, you won’t make the necessary adjustments to your spending, and you won’t make it to the airport. Make it a priority, because like I said your travels will open your eyes and change your life.
Set a date and stick to it – Again obvious enough but many people make their goals a moving target then wonder why they don’t reach them. Fix a date that will be appropriate to your financial situation and then stick to it. Write it down and stick it on your fridge or something. This way you see it every day and in turn helps to keep you motivated and focused.
Don’t leave it to the last minute to book your flight. The longer you leave it the more expensive it will get. If you can, book at least six to eight months out from your set date of departure.
Make a list of things you must do before departure – By this I mean financial cut backs you can make, bills that will need to be paid up and maybe even closed depending on how long you intend to travel. Mail redirects, notify bank of your travel plans, copy your travel documents etc (these things are covered later)
Make a list of things to buy/pack – Obvious this one I know though a good packing list will prevent you from loading yourself up with stuff you don’t need or maybe only use once. The lighter you travel the easier it will be. Revise this packing list so as you can cut back to the bare essentials. Think of the part of the world you are visiting and then pack accordingly. Common sense should tell you what to pack and what not to.
Begin planning your trip – Write out a list of places/countries you must see, must do experiences and how much time roughly to spend at each. A short term traveller will likely plan out the entire trip to the day and pre book. A long term backpacker will not need to be so exact with their travel plans as time is not such an issue and their travels will generally evolve as they go.
Stay focused – Read up about your destination. Not only does this give you some vital information it will also help keep you focused and excited about your upcoming adventure and do not leave buying all your travel gear till the last minute. Not only could you forget something, though you should not if you made a list, actually seeing your new travel gear building up gets you pumped up for hitting the road, which in turn helps keep you focused and on target.
The hardest part is often making the decision to jet off on a long overseas adventure, the second hardest part is keeping your resolve, sticking to the plan, being strict on yourself with your spending, doing the extra overtime (if available) for the extra holiday money and possibly as it was for me, throwing in a well paid job that I actually did not mind doing. But guess what… it was worth it. That seven months of travel changed my life and to top it off within a week of my return home to Australia I got my old job back and so I started saving all over again.
Most decisions have their risks attached to them. They seem daunting to begin with and they feed your doubts, though never let the concerns of money stop you from either going or worry about not having much, if any cash left after when you get back for it is your travels that lay before you, here and now that matter and who knows what opportunities await you both on your travels and beyond all thanks to taking a risk and embarking on an awesome holiday.
Remember, the biggest risk in life is not taking a risk.
The following would have to be one of my favourite travel related quotes:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Confucius
I look forward to sharing more travel tips with you in future articles