A question I get emailed a lot is “how can you afford to travel so much?” Well, I’m one of the lucky ones. My mom works for a major airline which means that I get to fly for free. Yep. For free. But don’t hate me! Because I’m not rich (I’m a writer. For the internet. I don’t make a lot of money). And while free airfare helps cut down on travel costs, there’s still the problem of paying for everything else (hotels, food, site-seeing…my coffee addiction), which can add up to a lot if I’m not careful.
Here are a few techniques I’ve put into use over the years to help me stay motivated to save for my trips abroad.
1. Create focused, well-defined goals
In order to save money to travel (whether it be a weekend away or a RTW trip) you have to first figure out how how much you’re going to need and when you’re going to need it by. Setting a vague goal of “I’m going to save a few thousand dollars by next year” is not good enough. Do your research, make an educated estimate of the amount you’ll need and create a budget for yourself. Set weekly and monthly goals that are realistic and then hold yourself to them. One of the number one reasons people fail to reach their goals is that they lack focus or direction. To beat the odds, you have got to get organized.
2. Scare yourself
A cancer patient and Forbes writer wrote: “The sole two reasons people ever do anything is out of fury or out of fear. This is the fight or flight response. This is your friend. Get cancer. That will motivate you.”
While I’d never suggest contracting a potentially lethal illness, that writer has a point; fear is certainly a strong motivator. After all, how many people have found the motivation to follow their dreams after being scared senseless by an illness or near-tragedy? Frighten yourself into saving money by thinking about how much you’ll be letting yourself down if you don’t.
3. Get Inspired by other travelers
The Positivity Blog suggests that you “Act like your heroes. Read about them, watch them, listen to them. Discover what they did that was special and what made them tick. But remember that they are people just like us. So let them inspire you instead of looking up at them admiringly.” This article, 100 People Doing Extraordinary Things, should get you started. These videos are great as well.
4. Make saving money your only option
According to this post, shortly after the Spanish colonizer Hernán Cortés arrived to Mexico to conquer the Aztecs, he ordered his men to burn their ships. This was done in order to prevent his sailors from giving up and heading home. Once shipless, the men were forced to complete the mission; they had no other choice. You can burn your metaphoric ship by giving notice at your job or apartment or by buying a plane ticket for a future trip that you know you can’t afford. Create a “it’s too late now” situation that will force you to continue to work towards your goal.
5. Tell everyone about your plans
I’ve been writing a book for seven years now and most everyone I know has head about it. While it’s SUPER annoying to get the question “How’s that book coming along?” it’s also a frequent reminder that I need to finish it, if for no other reason than the fact that I’m tired of having to say “Oh, ya know…it’s getting there….”
Tell people your saving for your trip, write it in a journal or on your blog. Shout it from the rooftops (or at least Facebook).
6. Make saving money fun
Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore; turn it into a fun challenge instead.
This blog has some ideas on how to turn saving money into a game. For the DIY art-loving traveler, this girl’s tutorial will teach you how to turn an old globe into a “travel fund” piggy bank. If you’re lazy, just use an old mason jar, write “Travel Fund” on it and use it to store your spare change and left-over dollar bills (like I’ve done in the photo above).
7. Change your email password
Change your email to a positive affirmation like IWillSaveMoney or I’mStrong or Iwilltravel. Why? Because what you say (or in this case, TYPE) to yourself on a daily basis can have a huge affect on your attitude, even if your conscious self isn’t necessarily aware of it. And if you’re going to have to type in a password 97437 times a day, why not make it a positive, self-affirming one?
What have I forgotten? Let me know!