The new year is here, therefore, everyone is already planning their goals for the year. One of the most common goals that always comes up is to travel more.
Everyone dreams of being able to travel more. Yet the fact is that most people never will.
I’ve been traveling for over three and a half years now and the owner of a guesthouse in Skopje, Macedonia, once told me: “You’ve either got the money or you’ve got the time.”
And that’s why I’m here. I’ve been working with Victoria on various projects for six years now and, let’s be honest, everyone loves to travel, but Victoria has three kids so her ability to travel regularly is rather limited. While she did travel a lot more in 2018, I’m here to give out some of my insider travel secrets over these next couple of months.
Anyway, so how can you really reach your travel goals this year?
Why Most of These Guides are Wrong
Before we go into what you need to do this year to make things happen, we need to discuss why most travel guides get this wrong.
I frequently wonder whether the people who write a lot of these guides have actually left their hometowns at all.
One thing you won’t hear me recommending is creating Pinterest boards or sticking pictures of your dream destination around the house.
If you want to go somewhere, you don’t need the motivation to go there. It’s always in your mind.
What you need to reach your travel goals is a real plan.
How Much Time Do You Have to Travel?
Time is the all-important factor. Determine how much time you’re going to have off this year. The longer the better. If you have more time you can go to more destinations and more far-flung destinations.
I highly recommend you avoid traveling in August, if possible. It might be the summer vacation, but prices can double, and the crowds can turn a dream destination into a living nightmare.
Get a Budget Estimate for Your Trip
The first step is to know how much money you’re going to need to go to your dream destination. It doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as you think. Travel agents are good if you don’t want to do anything, but you’re paying a big premium.
For example, let’s say you want to go to Paris. A quick look online at one travel agent I found on Google and they say they’ll charge you around $1500 for three nights, flying from Boston. No five-star hotels, by the way.
What do you get for this? You get the hotel, a sightseeing tour, and transportation.
As a traveler, I would start by saying this is a total rip off. Why?
Right now, I can see flights from nearby New York to the UK and Ireland for under $100 one way. These are standard off-season prices, not special deals.
From there you can fly to France (or any other Western European country) for around $20 on most days, or $30-$40 if life hates you.
So, for two people we’re talking about $500 for a round-trip. Then you have $1,000 left to play with. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that you’re not going to spend anywhere near that for a three-night trip unless you go crazy.
My advice to you is to plan your trip now, even if you can’t pay for it yet. Get a rough estimate for how much you need.
Make a Savings Goal
Now that you have a rough figure in mind it’s time to create a savings goal.
There are so many ways you can do this. I recommend using an app like Mint to track your spending. The name of the game is to save more than you spend. By tracking it you’ll find this much easier.
How much I recommend you save depends on where you want to go, how long you want to travel for, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice your current lifestyle.
Take the First Steps Now
I’ll be honest, I started traveling purely because I was bored. It just so happens that I never stopped after leaving the UK.
With any goal, you should take the first steps as soon as you can. Do you have a passport yet? Get your passport immediately.
Don’t be like Victoria who spent most of the year procrastinating before she went out and got hers!
Already got your passport? Get that new suitcase or backpack. Buy one of those Lonely Planet travel guides for your destination.
Make your goal an active one.
Losing Motivation? Here’s How to Keep it Going
I’m a believer in actively working towards your travel goals. Even when you’re on the road all the time you’re still working towards the goal of a specific country or a specific destination.
So, what if you’re losing motivation or you’re feeling burned out?
My strategy is to start planning my trip on a deeper level. After I’ve looked into flight routes, I start looking at routes around a country. Once I’ve done that, I start looking into specific itineraries for the things I want to see and do (Wikitravel is my best friend!).
Even if I don’t stick to these plans, like most of the time, it keeps those excitement levels high.
Closing Thoughts – Travel is Closer Than You Think
I always say that most people have the wrong idea regarding the investment of time and money that travel requires. Ignore the travel agents and do it yourself.
Don’t dismiss the idea of going to Europe, the Caribbean, and the Far East. You can do it!
James Farner Bio
James Farner started traveling in May 2015 and has never looked back. He has been funding his travels to over 60 countries through his work as a novelist. His mission is to show how accessible travel really is to the average person.
You can read his books here.