When people hear how much my husband and I travel, they sometimes say, Oh, I wish I could travel.
It’s often those with the most resources who say this. There are plenty of CEOs and doctors and lawyers who never travel.
So it’s not solely about the money.
There are people with little money, with young kids, with disabilities, with all kinds of reasons to stay home—who travel.
It all starts with desire.
Here are my “secrets” to making travel happen:
1. Dream and play.
I started collecting travel magazines and cutting out pictures of things I liked. I pasted images and key words into a notebook. Each page became a montage of images: downhill skiing, hanging out on a boat, snorkeling in azure water, swimming with dolphins, hiking in dazzling mountains, groups of friends enjoying food and drink and laughter.
I chose things that made me feel good. I cut and pasted like a little kid, without an agenda. Just because it was fun.
Eventually I forgot about it. Two years later, I found the notebook and thumbed through—stunned to see that every single thing in it had come true.
2. Explore the web.
There are copious numbers of travel blogs out there by people who live a traveling life. Many of them share their budgets and talk about choices they made that have allowed them freedom to travel—such as becoming internet-based entrepreneurs.
They demystify traveling because they do it so many different ways. The possibilities are endless.
My husband and I have stayed in many great places for free as housesitters. You can also use the web to find resources to trade or rent out your house when you travel.
3. Live abundantly/cheaply.
Many people (especially women) spend a lot of money on clothes. I buy my clothes at cheap stores, Goodwill, and yard sales. I also trade clothes with friends, and I focus on wearing things I already own in brand new combinations.
And best of all: I try to spend more time outwardly enjoying life than worrying about how I look.
For years we’ve lived in small houses, which are not only cheaper but discourage us from collecting a bunch of stuff we don’t need.
And we are able to live happily with one car, which cuts back on expenses such as insurance, registration, and car maintenance.
I’m sure there are a zillion ways, if you look at your life, where you can see that abundance doesn’t have to mean “stuff.”
4. Take pleasure in freebies.
My favorite freebies are long and rambling walks, sex, beach Frisbee, reading books and blogs, street fairs and festivals, and guided meditations and lectures on YouTube.
Instead of buying every book I want (I definitely buy some!), I use the library (or the free little “libraries” popping up in boxes in many neighborhoods), or trade with friends. Instead of paying for expensive yoga classes, I do my own improvised yoga routines or am guided by video.
Taking pleasure in cheap abundance and free stuff is a different mindset from “cutting back.” It’s about thriving not depriving.
5. Relax and compare.
My husband and I enjoy poking around for deals on flights, hotels and rental cars on travel sites. I sign up for “price alerts” so I can keep track of when prices drop.
I find that if I’m enjoying revelling in the fun of travel prep (as opposed to being worried about it), magical things happen.
For instance, we had a free place to stay in Hawaii (at the home of a friend-of-a-friend who’d stayed in our place once when we were out of town). We checked flights to Hawaii several times over the course of a few months and then stopped because they were so expensive.
We just dropped it, didn’t obsess, didn’t plan.
Then, one day, my husband spontaneously decided to look again—and the flights were half the price.
6. Enjoy your friends.
How often have you had people invite you to come visit them “any time”? Well, we take them up on it.
We have stayed in the homes of friends in India, Australia, and all over the U.S. Once I planned a trip to Italy and Spain based on the fact I had a friend living in Tuscany and another in Madrid.
Of course staying with friends is free—but even better, there is no better way to really get to know the people in your life than drinking coffee together in the mornings with sleep-encrusted eyes, or tootling throughout their neighborhood on bikes, or going to their favorite restaurants and theaters and places of worship, or hiking on their favorite trails, or visiting their child’s classroom, or helping set up a party and raging together.
Another way to enjoy friends is to share travel expenses (and therefore, experiences). One winter we leased a ski house with another couple. It was much cheaper than staying in hotels during ski season, and cooking in the house was more fun and less expensive than going to restaurants.
Post on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, where you want to travel. When I’ve done that, I’ve often had friends (people I’ve met and those I know only online) invite me to their towns and homes, as well as give me great suggestions for places to see and ways to travel for less.
7. Charge it.
We charge almost everything (gas, groceries, etc.) to our credit card that gives us frequent flier miles. Of course, this only works well if you pay off the credit card each month. We’ve used these miles for flights and rental cars. Our card company loves us so much they gave us a bonus 5,000 miles when we got married. Who gets a wedding present from a credit card company?
(Okay, maybe everyone; but I like to pretend we are special.)
If you have a desire to travel, milk it. Play around in it. So perhaps you don’t yet have the money or the time, but just accept that for what it is: a temporary concern.
Everything is temporary, everything changes.
So instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have–and on where you want to go.
Author: Kate Evans
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author (Kelly Weiss)