If time and money were no object, many of us would travel continually throughout our lives. Once the travel bug has bitten, it's hard to stop dreaming of new places, experiences and cultures. The question is, how can we achieve our travel desires with limited funds and limited time?
If the answer were easy, I would be writing this post from a mountain top in Greece, Nepal, Alaska or Switzerland. The answer is not a generic black and white one, but an answer can indeed be found. It lurks in the shadows, requires some soul searching and is a different answer for everyone.
The fact is, we can all travel more than we think we can. It all depends on your research skills, organisational skills, and what you are willing to sacrifice. I've travelled on a budget and I've travelled expensively. Both types of travel provided equally outstanding experiences, but as I get older, comfort becomes more important and thus travel more expensive.
It becomes about balance - choosing the hostels or very basic accommodation where one will only be in it to shower and sleep. Then choosing more luxurious accommodation for serious rest and relaxation and in areas where going out at night may not be likely due to wildlife, other dangers or being in the middle of a national park.
Some ideas for making travel cheaper and thus more possible:
- always travel in low or shoulder season (I personally find shoulder season gives the best of everything)
- do your online research for accommodation and transport to look at all possible options and prices
- bide your time and wait for a good airfare (for more complicated airfares, travel agents can often provide better deals than booking directly through the airline, but for basic clear cut airfares, going direct through the airline may be better)
- be open minded about the countries you visit. If airfares are significantly cheaper to one particular country over another, then research sights in the other country and you might be surprised to find you suddenly want to go.
- stay in a private room in a hostel
- stay in accommodation for longer periods to get cheaper rates and enjoy shopping in local areas and cooking local produce as part of the experience.
- utilise public transport wherever possible
- check out accommodation prices on trip advisor, plus internet booking sites, plus the hotel sites themselves and compare
- travel more often by taking an extra 2 weeks leave without pay (a small sacrifice) to give yourself a total of 6 weeks travel a year (that is a three week trip every 6 months). Alternatively, have one big six week trip a year.
- check your weekly living budget and cut down on day to day expenses to put more money in your travel account (sacrifice small things for extra travel - it really does work)
- open an account where you only put travel savings and be inspired as you see the account get fatter
- do a flat or house swap in another country or another place to bring your accommodation and car costs to zero
- apply to house-sit in a country you want to see
- travel in your own country to places/areas you have never seen (take your own car and save on hire costs where convenient) - this means the cost of the airfare can be spent on activities and accommodation. Our own countries are often sought after destinations to those outside them and hold many treasures that we may never have even realised.
- find or create a job that allows you to work from anywhere in the world (just remember that if you have a partner, they will have to do the same or the union may not survive).
How much travel you do will depend on how much you are willing to sacrifice. There are people who leave their jobs to spend their lives travelling. It is possible for anyone to do. But as such people will tell you, sacrifices must be made. It all depends on you.
What are you willing to give up to travel more? Is it money, time, people/friends/family, lifestyle, home comforts?
We can all afford to travel more if we plan for it, make some sacrifices and think outside the square box a bit.
The question is not are we going to travel, the question is how much travel is the right for us and the life we want to live?
Figure it out and make it happen.