For me, the thought of traveling to the next destination is greater than any high that I could ever experience. The luxury of trotting around the globe is one that I consider to be a blessing. But don't believe the hype, I need to work a 9-5 to do it. And quite honestly, I'm tired of hearing narratives about people who "dropped everything" to see the world. They'd explain that they had $10-20K in the bank saved up and they decided to just get up and go! More power to them (or you) if this is their reality, but I've got BILLS! Day-to-day expenses, kids, student loan debt, etc. make it necessary for many of us to punch a clock just to make ends meet, let alone plan a vacation.
My wanderlust obsession came later in life. By the time I began to travel on a regular basis, I was already running the corporate rat race trying to pay back student loans that I had taken out for both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees. The last thing on my mind was walking away from my "bread and butter" to travel full-time. Yeah, I know. It's possible to get to the point where you can get paid to travel regularly, but even that takes time. Parenthood can present challenges as well. And while I don't have children, I often speak to parents who talk about how working around their children's social and school schedules in addition to getting the money required to do it all can many times force them to put their wanderlust on the back burner.
But despite life's demands, it is possible to create a balance between juggling responsibilities and setting aside time and money to travel. Here are some creative ways to do it:
1. Use a portion of pay increases to create a travel fund.
Even if it's $5 or $10 dollars per week, a little can go a long way. You can either open up a bank account and have the money automatically taken out during a certain time of the month so that you never see it, or it can be as simple as a jar on the counter that you contribute to regularly. Using a pay raise or work bonus is a great way to reward yourself with money toward that trip that you've been looking forward to. $10 a week could go towards a one-way or roundtrip flight by the end of the year, depending on the airline and where you're traveling.
2. Establish your needs vs. wants.
Sis, do you really need that Frappuccino? Establishing want you need to spend your money on and what you don't, could make the difference between you actually going on that dream vacation or just fantasizing about it while scrolling through pics on social media. Sometimes, you can't buy the pretty wardrobe and fly out to show it off. Also, forgoing your favorite lunch and packing a turkey sandwich and a salad could save you hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards your travel fund. If travel is important, make sacrifices that help to get you closer to your goals.
3. Make time to just do it.
We're all busy! Especially if you're a parent with a full-time job. It's never going to be a perfect time to travel if you have a ton of responsibilities. And in many cases, by the time we think that it's a perfect time, something else comes up and we miss the window to book a great getaway. So pick a couple of dates at the beginning of the year, lock in the time off, and just pay for the trip! This way, you can't talk yourself out of not going (due to life's responsibilities) at the last minute. Remember, you deserve to unwind. So just do it! If you're worried about a last minute emergency, buy travel insurance, or book a flight on an airline like Southwest that doesn't penalize you for last minute cancellations and gives you flexibility to make changes at no extra charge.
4. Be smart when planning family vacations.
Parents: if you travel for work, make your points you earn count by using the miles that you've accumulated towards a family vacation. You can also book during airline sales to make your points go further. Also, signing up for a credit card used strictly for travel is an awesome way to get more bang for your buck with hotels, dining, airlines and more! Finally, buying into a timeshare when you have a large family, helps to not only save money, but the multiple rooms and space gives couples a little more privacy than if they had simply booked a double bed at a regular hotel.
5. Put your trip on layaway.
Do research on "vacation layaway" services that allow you to put a little money down per month six months to a year ahead of your trip. The services come with a fee and can require a deposit as low as ten percent. You can make specified payments for the length of your contract agreement leading up to the trip. It is important to read the fine print when putting a vacation on layaway so as to be sure that you're covered and insured if a last minute emergency arises. Websites like Airfordable.com and FlightLayaway.com are great places to start. You can also check with your favorite airline and ask about payment plans if you don't have the money to pay the full amount for your flight.
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