You’re dreaming of it, right? You want to lie on the beaches of Thailand, skydive over the mountains of New Zealand, picnic next to the waterfalls of Iceland, and camp under the stars of California.
You see the photos on Instagram, you read the articles online, and you pin it to your “one day” board on Pinterest thinking maybe sometime you’ll save enough to go.
Well I’ve got some news for you. That time is now.
I don’t want to hear excuses. I don’t care if you’re stuck in corporate America, I don’t care if you’re barely scarping by, I don’t care that you’ve got a family of 5. Travel now and be happier.
4 years ago today I got home from my first big adventure: Australia (hence the #TBT Sydney photo). I can’t believe it’s been 4 years, but then again it feels just like yesterday.
I was like you once. I had an empty bank account and a mind a million miles away. I worked a sucky store clerk job, attended a community college to attempt to go somewhere in life, and wanted nothing more than to buy a one-way ticket, then write “peace out suckas” as my classiest Facebook post. I get it. I get what you want to do.
This isn’t a post to become a long-term traveler, or how to quit your job to see the world. This is a post for all of you who want to start with the baby step. Those who dream of being the one to leave your dinky town behind for a bigger life ahead. It is for those interested in traveling, and those who have yet to do so.
So how do you save for your first big adventure?
Set a goal
You can take an epic trip on $1,000 or less. Before you begin, know how much you want. Saving money is more successful when you have a goal. If wanting to go abroad, I’d save $1,300. Domestic, I’d save $900. This budget is for those who don’t need a 5-star resort, but also don’t plan on sleeping in a car every night. Think hostels, couchsurfing, cheap pizza, AirBnB, and camping.
If you have 1 year to save $1,000, that’s $20 a week to put into your savings. The beginning of 2016 is the perfect time to start your goal. Keep track of that $20, and make sure you don’t spend it. That money is equal to dining out with friends one night a week, buying that fifth of alcohol, or purchasing a shirt online. Giving up the little items you don’t actually need accumulates to a massive trip you will never forget. Be smart, create a savings schedule, and be frugal.
Be willing to learn
Many times, those looking to travel are curious about the world. They want to learn and grow through experiences. I know I did. Taking the steps towards a big adventure is all about learning. Learning how to save, research, travel on a budget, obtain needed documents, find cheap flights, apply for a passport, etc.
You will never make it out if you don’t work for it. Those who sit around and wait to win $1,000 on a scratch off ticket will most likely never leave the ground. Those who travel young often work 2-3 jobs.
Do you have any hobbies you can make into a side job? I take any side job offered to me, whether it’s house-sitting, taking senior photos, or tutoring. I wish I could say traveling doesn’t cost money, but it does.
Don’t listen to the haters
People are going to question your actions or have little faith in your success. It is frustrating. Don’t let your friends talk you into a night out spending your savings, and don’t let people convince you travel is for retirement. The travel community welcomes you with warm arms, and we understand your craziness.
Calculate your expenses
income – expenses = amount of extra money a month
If you make $800/month and you have monthly expenses of $550 including rent, groceries, phone bills, etc. you have $250 extra dollars a month. $20/week for savings = $80/month. You now have $170 on whatever else you would like. Budgeting may seem hard, but the formula is actually quite easy!
Don’t rely on others
As much as you wish everyone around you will share the same passion for exploration, most of them won’t or can’t take it seriously. When time comes for the adventure, you’d be surprised at how hard it will be to find someone to come along. But when one door closes, another opens. Taking a big trip solo is one of the biggest learning experiences a person could have. Don’t be afraid to go alone. You’ve worked hard to save for this, so go for it!
Choose your adventure wisely
We’re young, and we aren’t going to be able to afford a luxurious ocean hut in Tahiti for two weeks. It’s time we take advantage of the things we can do. We are able to climb to the top of a mountain and sleep under the stars, we can stay in hostels and still sleep like the dead, and we can be spontaneous in every endeavor. Choose a place that is going to make you genuinely happy. Where have you always wanted to go? What have you always wanted to do? Find your place, and go.