I love when friends confess their travel dreams and goals to me. I’m always quick to respond, “just go!” even though I know that most of us can’t just drop everything, pack a suitcase and jump on a plane. Reality is a lot less glamorous, but equally as exciting. Here are some of my tips for helping you make 2016 the year you take that trip.
1. Price it out. Maybe sounds obvious, but instead of wistfully saying, “Ah….I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii….” find out how much it will actually cost for you to do that. You may be surprised that your dream destination is a lot less than you thought, or a lot more. The most important part of this is to be 100% realistic about this. Don’t go to some discount website and get a rough idea, based on a deal that will have expired, instead really think about the trip you want. If you are dreaming of Hawaii because you have always wanted to visit the top of Mauna Kea, then research that detail and factor it in. That Hawaiian trip will be vastly different in price than lounging on Waikiki. I find making a spreadsheet helps with this so I can put in actual prices and get a realistic number. Once you turn that dream into an actual number, it becomes something you can tackle. Is your dream trip $5000? Good, now you know!
2. Prioritize it. A lot of people look at frequent travelers as knowing a secret that the rest of us don’t know. They must know some travel hacks or have access to super cheap flights. While most travelers have honed their skills at getting the most bang for the buck, they also travel a lot because they have prioritized it over other things. They make conscious decisions on a daily basis about where to spend their money, because they want to spend it on travel. Now that you know how much your trip will cost, make it a priority and save for it. I recommend having a dedicated travel fund, separate from your rainy day fund. Put some thought into ways that you can save or earn money for your trip.
3. Earn miles. If you are part of an airline rewards program, make sure you’re maximizing it. Most programs have ways to earn miles through online shopping and eating out that are easy ways to rack up miles. Also, focus your miles earning on one program, that works best for your airport and the places you want to go. Almost anything travel related that you need to do is also linked to an airline, so link those accounts so that when you rent a car or stay in a hotel, you get miles. Also, use your miles wisely on appropriate flights to get the most out of the program. Sometimes it's smarter to pay for tickets, and earn the miles to use on a different trip.
4. Be flexible. Maybe your dream trip is completely out of the realm of reality at this point in your life, that doesn’t mean you should stay home. If you can’t afford that wine tasting tour of Southern France right now, consider wine tasting in Portugal? Do a little research and learn a bit more about other options that are similar to what you’re dreaming of. Countries that are under the radar are often way more affordable.
5. Daydream about it often, for real. Make it real by acting like you’re going. You may not have it booked yet, but while you’re saving for it, get planning! Buy a guide book, check out some travel shows and get excited. Ask friends if they’ve ever been there and seek out people who have. Watch movies and read books set in places you want to visit. Put some travel bloggers in your Instagram feed. Get that passport now! Don’t wait until you book it, all these things will help motivate you and keep you on track.
Now, where are you dreaming about traveling to in 2016? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by David Hansen