5 Reasons People Don’t Travel and What to Do About It! (PART I: MONEY)
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” - Napoleon Hill -
We all know people with intentions of traveling the world and road-tripping across America, with beautiful saved destinations on Pinterest. They say they’ll do it someday, which let’s be honest, usually means in retirement or never. Between work, family, and the never-ending to-do lists that keep us up at night, how often do those intentions actually turn into action?
We’ve all been that person. We’ve all put off that trip or dream for some vague time into the future… when we think we’ll have more money, more time, or fewer responsibilities.
The thing is, there is no promise of an easier, freer, or more abundant tomorrow. It’s the choices we make today that make up the rest of our lives. That perfect opportunity we’re waiting for may never come. Whatever it is you want to do requires that you DO IT. Not tomorrow or someday, but TODAY. Intentions are not enough.
Five common reasons that people don’t travel are money, time, planning, fear, and loved ones. These are real challenges, for sure, but they needn't stop you. Instead of thinking of all the reasons you can’t travel, start thinking of all the reasons you can. Have a strategy (that's where I come in!).
In this 5-part blog, I suggest ways to avoid getting stuck in one of these trap excuses, and start making your travel dreams a reality.
“Traveling is too expensive.”
“I can’t afford to travel!”
Traveling requires money, and for some the cost is truly prohibitive. But if you’re buying lattes, watching cable television, eating out, or buying brand name clothing, you can afford to travel.
With proper planning and some flexibility, traveling can require less money than you may think. There is a plethora of books, blogs, and articles on how to travel on the cheap so my goal here is simply to describe a few strategies to get you started.
First, SAVE MONEY.
Unless you have a lot to spare, there’s no way to get around this. Let’s say you need $1500 for a 9-day trip to Italy and you don’t have that kind of disposable income. You need to save $125 each month for a year or $250 for six months.
If that seems like a lot to you, assess how you currently spend your money. Where are your black holes? For me, it’s coffee, eating out, and drinking. One night out in San Diego with dinner, drinks, and Lyft can easily exceed $100. Eliminating just one weekly latte can save more than $25 a month.
I’m not suggesting that you stay locked away at home until you can afford to travel. You also shouldn’t sacrifice anything that really matters to you or brings you joy. I spend about $100 a month on my barre fitness classes. That’s a significant pot of money that could be saved for travel. But barre helps me stay healthy, improve my posture, and feel strong in my body. So, it stays.
What I am suggesting is to be mindful of how easily you WASTE money, keeping in mind that how you spend your money is a direct reflection of your priorities. Start to identify and eliminate wasteful spending so you can save it for that epic adventure instead.
Second, TRAVEL SMARTER.
Travel to destinations where your dollar will go farther (e.g. Thailand versus France). Travel in low or shoulder season when there are fewer tourists and accommodations and tours are cheaper.
Your largest travel expenses are your flight and accommodations. Learning how to reduce or eliminate these will make travel significantly more accessible.
There are dedicated travel hackers who fly and sleep for free using credit card rewards and loyalty programs. It requires some effort, research, and strategic spending, but it is possible. I just booked a round-trip flight to Peru using award miles. I only paid $74 to cover the taxes and fees. For more on this, check out Nomadic Matt or the Travel Hacking Cartel.
Beyond scoring free flights, there are websites that scour travel deals and alert subscribers, such as Scott's Cheap Flights. Another good option is Google travel alerts. This strategy usually requires that you book right away (before the deal disappears) or travel last minute. I personally don't have that kind of flexibility at the moment, so this doesn't work as well for me. (Read more on flexibility below.)
To reduce the cost of accommodations, consider cheaper options like hostels, guest homes, and personal residences. In cities where hotel prices are exorbitantly high, Airbnb can be a great option, just be careful with the added cleaning and services fees (they can add up!).
Traveling smarter also means capitalizing on your geographic location. For example, traveling to Mexico from southern California is often less expensive than traveling to Texas (I’ve booked a flight to Cabo for $200) and traveling to the Caribbean from Florida can be as cheap as a tank of gas. What are the destination deals near you? Where can you go that will be new and exciting and not break the bank?
If you travel for work, tack on a few days before or after your work trip to explore the area. At the end of May I'll be presenting at a conference in New Orleans, which has been on my bucket list for years. For a few hundred dollars, I was able to tack on some personal travel.
For additional budget travel tips and resources, check out Expert Vagabond.
Third, BE FLEXIBLE.
The more flexibility you have in terms of when, where, how you travel, the less expensive it will be.
When I was a broke college student (and later a broke grad student), I traveled a lot. With more holidays and fewer responsibilities, I had the flexibility to find a good deal and book last minute trip. I couldn’t afford a $100 hotel room, but I could manage $20 for a hostel. At the time, I was willing to sacrifice comfort to see the world.
If you're not willing to sacrifice comfort, that's okay. See where you might have more flexibility and use it to your advantage.
The key is to start somewhere. If you can only afford a weekend camping trip at a nearby national park, do that. Still too much? Check out my post on how to be a traveler in your home city.