All of us have felt a little pang of jealousy after hearing that a friend or colleague seems to be traveling constantly. Though it’s one of the most fulfilling parts of life, travel can be a difficult thing to plan, especially when you’re low on resources (like money or time). If you’ve found yourself wishing you could spend more time traveling during the upcoming year, look no further than the below tips and tricks. By making just a few simple changes, you’ll be well on your way to a year filled with new adventures.
1. Change Your Mindset
Source: Dale Weeks
Though a lot of people see travel (especially international) as an unattainable luxury, the first step in making your travel dreams come true is to change this mindset. Shift your perspective, and prioritize travel the same way you’d prioritize decorating your home, eating out, going out with friends, etc. Keeping travel on par with the other aspects of life that you spend time and money on will allow you to work it into your daily life. Yes, you could spend $30 on a new candle or put that towards a trip to see the Northern Lights. (This leads us to our next point.)
2. Create a Travel Budget
Source: Daryl Schmidt
You knew it was coming, but the absolute best way to commit to travel more is to create a dedicated travel budget. Put aside money for travel the same way you would for groceries, going out, rent, etc. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money (even $20 per paycheck can go a long way over time), but it’s best to have a set amount. Though everyone’s amount will vary, choose an amount that makes sense with your travel goals. If you’re hoping to take more road trips in 2016, you may need to save slightly less than someone who hopes to go on multiple international trips.
Tip: Automate the process! Set up an automatic deposit to a savings account so you don’t have to think about it—and to avoid deviating from your saving goals. If you don’t know how to begin planning a budget, finance editor Erica Gellerman has broken down the process here.
3. Start Small
Source: Nomadic Habit
If you’re a travel novice or if you just aren’t sure where to begin, start small to avoid feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of amazing places to travel even if you don’t have a large budget. Think about a nearby city or state that you want to travel to, and get to planning. Though big international trips can be amazing, there is something equally wonderful about getting to know your own state or country better. Make plans to visit a national park, go on a food crawl in a nearby city, or take a road trip to the coast—just to name a few!
4. Look to Work
Source: The Top Knot
Regardless of what sort of field you work in, there may be opportunities for travel that you may be leaving on the table. Even if your job doesn’t specifically require travel, many companies often have annual conferences that staff members attend. If you’re able to attend yours, use the conference as a jumping point to another trip, and plan to take a few days off before or after the conference to explore.
For example, if you’re going to be in Los Angeles for a work event or conference, why not tack three days onto your trip to go explore Palm Springs? In addition, many companies will offer to pay for or subsidize your attendance at a conference or workshop that will contribute to your professional development. This may be a great opportunity for you to explore a new city and develop your skills all at once.
Finally, if you’re starting a new job soon, consider negotiating more vacation time right from the get go. You’d be surprised at what you’re able to get by just asking!
5. Create an Extra Income Stream
Source: Dale Weeks
While you’re on a trip, a great way to help pay for your day-to-day activities is to create an extra income stream while you’re away. One way to do this is by putting your apartment, room, or home up for rent on sites like Airbnb or VRBO. Many travelers are able to completely pay for their lodging during their trips by renting out home space on these sites. While it will take some planning on your part (such as finding a friend that will assist guests if needed while you’re gone), it can be a huge money saver. If you rent, just make sure that your lease allows for this first!
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even participate in a Home Exchange (à la Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in The Holiday).
6. Choose a Loyalty Program
Source: Dennis Jarvis
If you’re ramping up for a year filled with more travel, it’s best to choose a loyalty program and stick with it. There are a lot of airline loyalty programs out there so be sure to think about where you’ll travel most and how often in order to find one that fits your lifestyle. When choosing an airline loyalty programs, it’s ideal to choose one that allows you to fly on not only the dedicated airline you select but also on their entire airline alliance. This gives you more flexibility when booking (you’ll get points on multiple airlines).
There is a huge world of loyalty programs out there, and if you really want to get into the details to maximize your rewards, The Points Guy is an incredibly expansive resource.
Happy and safe travels in 2016!