If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I want to travel, maybe this year” – I’d have enough money to go around the world! At this time each year, when people are reflecting on their lives and making new year’s resolutions, the desire to travel tends to pop up. As we know, keeping these new years resolutions becomes difficult as life goes on…and quickly they fade away. Since Josh and I are passionate believers in the power of travel and how it can enhance your life, we want YOU to achieve that resolution and plan your next trip! So we have come up with some tips to help you keep your new years resolution to travel.
1. Write Down Your Travel Bucket List
Write down everything, even if it seems far-fetched. Just having a list will make you more excited about the idea of it actually happening. Think over the list for a while, search out some articles to read for more ideas, and tweak your list. Be sure to keep your list in a journal or make a Travel Bucket List board and follow some inspiring travelers on Pinterest.
However, even though Pinterest is a great tool for travel inspiration, we find that we often add a lot of things to our boards and then don’t really follow up on them! I’m sure we aren’t the only ones…
So again, I emphasize…WRITE IT DOWN on a piece of paper, a journal or anything. Tape it to the wall at your desk or put it up on your fridge at home. That way you will always be reminded what a priority it is.
2. Figure Out How Much Time You Can Take
Everyone’s personal situation is a bit different. But whether you are in school or work full time, you typically have some kind of combination of personal and/or sick days, or vacation time that you could use for your travels.
Take a moment to figure out how many days you could take for a trip. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy trip around the world, but try to make it more than a long weekend! How about a week?
Also, keep in mind that if you can combine some of your days off with a holiday and with weekends, you may be able to get in more travel days for less time away from work. We actually do this a lot, especially when we had our corporate jobs. We loved combining holidays and weekends to get as much time as possible for our trips.
Most people think you need to have a lot of time off work to travel, but that’s not necessarily true.
3. Find Dates When You Can Commit to Travel
Look at your calendar for the year and rule out any time that you know you can not go on a trip. Perhaps you have work-related events or family commitments. Then take a look at the remaining time and identify three to five different periods of time that would work for a vacation.
Regardless if the date is approaching fast, or 8 months away, mark the dates as possible options.
We find that penciling in the dates on a calendar can help us block that time out so it doesn’t get filled up with something else. That way, we have some time to plan a vacation in advance, or maybe even take a last-minute vacation if the time comes!
4. Estimate Your Budget
Now is a good time to check your finances. If you have a bit of savings that you can pull from, then that’s great! Set a dollar amount for how much you are willing to spend on a trip, at this point, it might be just an estimated range. It’s good to know your limits in advance before you start searching.
If you don’t have any money saved for a vacation, then it’s time to get cracking! We are firm believers that you should be financially responsible when traveling. That means not charging a trip on a credit card if you can’t pay it off right away! First, we recommend that you take a look at your monthly expenses versus your income. How much is left after your expenses & how much can you set aside for travel?
If there isn’t anything left, then you know that you need to prioritize your expenses & spending. I have found that having a separate bank account specifically for travel savings helps because your trip savings is not co-mingled with your daily living expenses or other emergency savings.
For more details on how exactly how this works and how we save for vacation, check out our blog post Tips to Save Money for More Vacation
5. Review Your Bucket List & Prioritize Destinations
If you are like us, then your travel bucket list tends to get longer and longer! To help keep you from getting too overwhelmed when searching for a trip, prioritize your destinations. Depending on your budget & time off work, you may want to mark off the destination that is furthest away, or will be the most expensive.
For example, I always wanted to go to New Zealand since I was a kid. My cousin had lived there when he was in college and I remember he came back with some of the coolest souvenirs and stories about his time there (not to mention, a way more laid-back and chill personality). He just seemed so genuinely happy and raved so much that I knew I had to go there.
However, I definitely didn’t have the money when I was younger – even after I was out of college and started paying for my own travels. So when I started planning my first trips overseas, New Zealand got bumped to the bottom of the priority list. Instead, I visited places such as London or Paris where I could score better flight prices.
Even though I couldn’t get to New Zealand right away, I did eventually get there. And Josh and I had the most amazing experience RVing around New Zealand in a campervan (SO much fun!).
Narrowing down your destinations will really help when it comes to searching online for your trip!
6. Start Searching! Dates, Destinations, and Budget
The great thing about the internet is that you can easily search any combination of dates, destinations, and budget. But, this can also make the process overwhelming (which is why you should narrow down your bucket list items).
Scour the internet to see what you can find. Are there any deals out there? Keep in mind seasonality; certain times of the year may be more expensive than others for particular destinations. Also, do some preliminary searching for basic transportation, accommodation, and activities that you want to do at these destinations. These need to be factored into your overall budget.
Be sure to keep track of what you find. As some of our readers know, I happen to love spreadsheets. So I usually create a spreadsheet to help keep track of my search results (destination, dates, prices, etc.). What I love about this tool that I created is that I can easily search a whole bunch of different options and keep track of the total price, then compare to see which option is the cheapest.
But of course, this is just me being the super type-A person that I am. Feel free to use whatever works best for you!
7. Book It!
Once you find an trip option that fits within your budget, your calendar of available time off work, and your bucket list destinations…BOOK IT! Don’t hesitate or think too long about it, that only causes stress and anxiety.
Yes, it may seem crazy…and you may feel a bit of buyer’s remorse just after you make the purchase, but those concerns will quickly fade away and you will be overcome with excitement! Honestly, have you ever heard someone say “I wish I hadn’t booked that trip to Italy?”
Seriously, when I look back at all the different vacations I’ve gone on. From Europe, to Asia, to New Zealand. I’ve never ever one time wished I’d saved the money and not gone on the trip. In fact, it’s usually the opposite! Often times I think “why didn’t I do this sooner???”
In fact, one of my favorite travel quotes is “travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Because I make sure I save money for travel and have all my bills paid, I don’t miss the money. But I cherish those travel memories!
Check out some of our favorite booking tools for making reservations such as hotels and activities!
8. Start Counting Down
Once the trip is booked, you will be surprised by how relieved you feel to finally be taking the first step to doing something that you always wanted to do. Taking the first step can be the most difficult part, but if you don’t make a point to do it, then you never will.
Life will get in the way (as it tends to do) and you will find yourself making the same new years resolution next year. If it is truly something that you want to do…then do it! You will be so happy that you did.
Please Share Your Travel Plans With Us!
We would love to hear what your travel plans are for the year. Please keep us posted in the comments below & let us know if you’ve booked it yet!