I can’t begin to tell you just how important I believe travel to be. Travel changes the way you view the world. It makes you smarter. A lot smarter. It makes you a more interesting person. If you have children, I truly believe that vacations, weekend outings, and day trips are the best things you can give them to put them on the path of becoming intelligent, confident, well-rounded adults. Forget the expensive schools and fancy computer programs. Pack them into the car and take them to the zoo instead. Go camping. Drive across the country. The memories you make will stay with your kids for the rest of their lives, long after they have children and grandchildren of their own. You’ll never see a $20 bill go farther or last longer. My rule of life, first and foremost, is “spend money on EXPERIENCES, not on THINGS.” Once you start traveling, you’ll understand why. That first vacation often makes such a profound impression that people can’t stop thinking about it and looking forward to the next. I didn’t go on my first “real” vacation (to someplace other than a relative’s house) until I was a junior in high school. But that was all it took. One trip and I understood what travel was all about.
But what if you don’t have tons of extra cash lying around to spend on airline tickets or cruise ship cabins? Many people could afford to travel if they only chose to. Instead, they use what could be their travel budget to buy other things. If you’re in the habit of always driving a brand new car, you have to have the latest version of the iphone, or you keep your closet filled with the newest fashions, you may never have enough money to travel. Unless you are wealthy, the ability to travel requires you to look at your budget in a new and different way.Embed from Getty Images
Are you someone who uses shopping to gain a temporary high? Think about how much money you spent on impulse purchases last year. Can you remember where even half of those dollars went? Take a look around your house. How many things are sitting unused in corners and cupboards? Their value probably equals enough to have paid for a weekend trip at least. Chances are, things you bought two or three years ago are now long gone — used up, donated to Goodwill or buried in the local landfill. That’s because many of the ‘things’ we buy are either unnecessary or they don’t last.
Most tight budget travelers don’t shop much. I head to the grocery and hardware stores with a pre-made list and I try to stick to it. I avoid stores like Wal-Mart or the Dollar Tree where I’d be likely to make impulse purchases. Sure, my sofa is a little saggy and I could stand to buy a new one. Both of my cars are ten years old. But that’s because I’ve made travel a priority in my budget. Yes, I will have to buy another couch eventually. And I’ll have to buy a car. But when I do, it won’t be a top of the line purchase. When I buy a car it will be a one or two year old, used model with low mileage. I’ll buy a car that’s almost new and I’ll save thousands of dollars that can be spent on travel and other experiences.Embed from Getty Images
There is no wrong way to travel. All travel is right. So get off the couch and go. NOW. If you can’t afford a three week cross country trip, that’s okay. Make a day trip to your local art museum instead. There’s nothing wrong with starting small. But start. Start now.It will enrich your life more than you could have ever guessed.