It’s all about finesse.
I’ve always traveled.
Maybe it’s the Sagittarian in me or maybe it’s just my upbringing. I really couldn’t tell you.
I flew alone via plane for the first time at age 12. I spent summers away at camps in Kentucky and Georgia. Traveling here and now has always been in the cards for me, even if I’m not totally sure how I landed here.
Once you know the liberation that comes with travel, there’s no turning back.
I’m traveling even more now as an adult, including internationally. And I’m always asked how someone so young can manage to travel so much.
The truth of the matter is that traveling is really an art – the art of finesse. You don’t have to be rich, and you don’t have to quit your job or school or life (necessarily). What you have to do is identify what’s holding you back… and then eliminate those obstacles.
Well, I’m here to help you find the time to travel and the money to travel. Here are the top 7 things keeping you home and how a smart woman doesn’t let it stop them:
- Not having enough money.
Many people assume that traveling (both domestic and international) is expensive, but it’s not in the grand scheme of things.
You may hate me for saying this, but it’s real: The money that you spend on bullshit in a week, much less in a month is all the money you need in the world to travel.
We spend hundreds of dollars eating out and hitting happy hours, and it adds up. With enough willpower, you could opt out of those things for a month or two and just book your flight.
Apps like Hopper (which tells you when prices for your destination drop) and Sky Scanner (which allows you to search flight destinations as ‘flexible’ and ranks results from cheapest to highest price) can help you catch cheaper fares on flights.
There’s also Groupon, which offers travel deals and even meal deals all over the world!
The only thing that must absolutely be booked upfront are flights – hotels don’t take the money until check out and tours you pay for the day of. So it’s not always necessary to have everything up front.
My point? Stop thinking all vacations have to be luxurious! Cut corners where you can in order to get the most bang for your buck.
Fly Spirit Airlines, stay in a room instead of a hotel or just choose a random destination based on flight price. But thinking it has to be extravagant all the time will limit your travel.
- The day-to-day grind.
Packing lunches, spending time with your loved ones, tackling the garage, or hitting the gym.
Your kids have to be to their designated practices each week, and you have to do this and that, and so on. Or, maybe you’re an enrolled in school, pulling long shifts just to pay for school and that car note, and just life.
The list is never ending and it’s easy to get bogged down in your daily routine without taking time for yourself and genuinely unwind – making vacation time seem impossible. But, it’s not.
No time is ever going to be a good time.
You have to make time.
If you’re in school, you don’t have to opt to travel on spring break only. I mean that definitely a good use of time, but think on a larger scale – try online school or even studying abroad for the semester, whether it be in the summer or fall. If money is the issue see if the credit can be transferred so you didn’t shell out thousands of your fall tuition money for absolutely nothing.
Parental PSA: Your kids don’t have to go with you everywhere. (This is me telling you to remember before you were a parent you were just a person who still needs time alone or with your spouse.) And you deserve a break!
- The lack of travel companions.
Maybe your boyfriend hates to fly or your girlfriends would rather spend their money on booze and bars.
Either way, trying to plan a trip with others is by far the most annoying thing in the world. Seriously, it takes a special kind of person with a whole lot of patience.
That person stopped being me.
I got tired of waiting on everyone else to clear their schedules or hoping they wouldn’t flake at the last minute. And, group travel through companies is usually too expensive or demands you have money by a deadline – that’s why I began traveling alone.
Many people voiced their unsolicited concerns about the danger of traveling alone, but as someone who has lived in a few different inner cities, I can tell you that if you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all.
The same advice goes as it would with anywhere: Watch your surroundings.
And if you’re afraid of getting lost, well, the song “Uber Everywhere” is the truth in that Uber is just about everywhere so if it makes you feel safer. Take one.
Traveling alone has some great benefits like making your own schedule and meeting new people.
In between the time that I traveled from one city to the next while in Colombia, I had met another New Yorker headed in the same direction and we ended up spending the remainder of our trip together. I also opted for an English-speaking Air BnB host for this trip and they were so awesome that I ended up helping them move and staying at their new place instead of my Air BnB rental.
So, while I’m on the subject here’s my plug for Air BnB: I’ll say that Air BnB is another measure of feeling comfortable, in my opinion. It gives you the advantage of talking to someone who can direct you around the area (a safer alternative to bopping around) and you even get to experience the local stuff. Or, even hostels will help you meet other travelers to lump yourself with.
Just stop fearing the world and plan around whatever fear you do have because bad shit can happen any and everywhere.
- Too much debt.
In addition to income being an excuse (yes, an excuse) I’ve heard people say they want to pay off debt first.
Let me promise you this: that debt ain’t goin’ nowhere (straight like that, improper English and all)… and neither are you if you keep “living” like that. I have a small mound of college debt and then some. For most of us, it’s going to take a good chunk of our lifetime before we actually pay it off. And that’s being generous because for me it’ll probably take a lifetime itself.
I’m not there to offer up well thought-out or even responsible financial advice, but I say consider paying the minimum payment on your debt the month you’re traveling so that you can have a little extra money on hand.
Sally Mae, Capital One, and any other nice little person calling you on a recorded line to collect a debt they will all be waiting for you when you get back, and one month will not hurt your payoff plan.
We just weren’t meant to live a life of paying bills and working to pay off bills – there’s so much more to life than that.
- Dreaming of a particular destination
You may have a dream destination in mind and perhaps it’s not currently in your budget – don’t wait for the day you can afford that one trip to start getting your feet wet on other sandy beaches.
It almost seems tragic to stop yourself from seeing the rest of the world while waiting for your dream trip to happen.
Waiting is your enemy, and the only thing worth waiting for when it comes to seeing the world is a good glitch fare.
What you can do is find a site like Airfordable that allows you to book your flight through small payments, until it’s paid off. That way you’re setting your dream trip into motion and can soon begin to add other places to your list of desired travel destinations, but don’t not travel because you only hope to go to one particular destination. UNDERSTAND NOW?
- Your ultra limited PTO.
I’m not sure what your paid time off looks like, but I had three weeks worth, took two vacations (for five plus days), and by the time I returned home, I had only actually spent four of my days.
So, you can do it.
I took my vacations around major holidays that provided long weekends and even worked remotely during the last leg of my vacations. Now if you don’t get paid time off – and you have the travel bug, then consider looking for a remote position. They’re popping up everywhere and offer more flexibility.
- Relentless travel shamers (i.e. haters).
Never – and I do mean never – let someone’s know-nothing nosiness get in the way of you traveling.
Travel-shamers will come out of the woodwork and try to cramp your style with questions like: What about your kids? What about your bills and work?
Some will be well-meaning but you can often tell the difference between someone who is seeking knowledge for themselves versus someone who is throwing shade.
You’re grown and don’t need to answer to anyone.
As a fellow YourTango writer once told me: “Just post more pictures to humblebrag and realize you’re living the dream you always wanted.”