2018 is essentially here, and my wife Monica and I have just capped off our last trip of 2017. Earlier this year, we committed to taking two international trips and two trips in the States. That was the plan for 2018, but somehow we made it happen in just 6 months. We’ve had a few peers ask, “How have you guys been able to afford to travel so often in a such a short period of time?” According to our Instagram feed, we don’t travel enough haha, but we do understand the question. As we are already planning for our birthday vacation and our first anniversary in July, I wanted to give a few tips that have worked for us on how to travel more, with less.
1. Stop Buying Dumb Sh*t
Yes. I said it. If you’re really trying to commit yourself to traveling in 2018, you have to stop buying dumb sh*t. Most people who say they “can’t afford” to travel, usually are spending money on expensive shoes or poppin’ bottles in the club every weekend. In my opinion, it’s not worth it. Living in Washington, D.C., it is EASY to fall into the Happy Hour & Brunch trap. Monica and I made a conscious effort to tone down our spending on these things, as those same funds can be used for an experience in a different place. I’m not posing as the “Fun Police”, saying you should stay in and do nothing; but, I am telling you that it is o.k. to pass on a pair of Jordans or miss a night or two out with your friends. Save this money and use those funds on a new experience. Pack your lunch everyday instead of eating out 5 times a week. Say “No” to your friend that wants to go on a shopping date. Believe me, a vacation experience will be far more fulfilling than any material thing you own.
2. The Gifts That Keep On Giving
This one is unique, but very effective. Back when I was 18, my parents told me as long as I didn’t have any kids, they will continue to buy Birthday and Christmas gifts. 10 years later, I am still holding them to it. We all have someone close to us that buys us gifts for some occasion throughout the year. Valentine’s Day, Birthday, Christmas etc. Monica and I have made it very easy for our families when they ask “What do you want this year for ___?” AIRLINE GIFT CARDS! This year, my parents bought us Southwest gift cards for our birthdays and that translated to Essence Fest in New Orleans. When we got married in July, we made an entire registry of airline gift cards (no joke). This will help you save money on flights, and you can use those funds towards your hotel or AirBnb accommodations, excursions, or even food while you’re away. Also, when you are the gift-giver, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on toys and other things that are quickly obsolete; gift a flight or vacation for your children. We met a wonderful family in the Bahamas, who said they usually spend $400+ dollars apiece on their children for Christmas; so instead this year they used that money towards flights and a new experience. Trust me, it can be done!
3. Plan Ahead
This one is for the “I don’t have time to travel” people. There’s an old saying “You make time for what you really want” and this is the absolute truth. If you work in “Corporate America”, there are a few times throughout the year that are already carved out for a vacation. Labor Day. Memorial Day. Thanksgiving. Christmas. These are opportunities to plan ahead because you naturally have time off. You can easily request the Friday before Labor day off, and turn the holiday into a 4-day weekend. It’s all about proper planning. Listen, our anniversary isn’t until July 27th, and I already made sure my work schedule is clear. I didn’t want any confusion, or last minute denied vacation requests. Take a look at your calendar and start to plan for your 2018 vacations RIGHT NOW!
4. Create a Travel Budget
You budget for groceries, cable & internet, car payment etc. Why not make “travel” and line item? It doesn’t have to be a lot, you can put away $50 per pay period and afford to take a nice vacation after a few months. If you are serious about traveling this upcoming year, this is a necessity. To take it a step further, you can even change your direct deposit to have a portion of your paycheck to automatically go to a “travel savings account”. This will help you fight that urge to “buy dumb sh*t”. It’s much easier to save money you don’t see. Next time you’re doing a budget, take a look at how much additional money you have and carve out some travel funds accordingly.
DIY? Here’s what I mean.. We all pay for services that we can literally do ourselves. Ladies, instead of hitting the hair salon or nail tech every two weeks, spend the time and save the money to do it yourselves. Fellas, it makes no sense to pay money to get your car washed or oil changed by a stranger, when we all should be able to do it ourselves. Although these things don’t seem like a lot, these dollars add up over time. When you are transitioning into DIY services, it is important to move the money you would have spent on the service, to your “travel fund”. A few months back, Monica and I found a way that we can carpool daily and the amount of money we saved weekly was mind-blowing. Take a look at some of the services you pay for on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and you’d be surprised at the money you can save and use towards a wonderful getaway.
There are many ways you can travel for less, and these are a few to get you started. Money or time should never hold us back from living our best lives and having once-in-a -lifetime experiences. My mother told me long ago “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you spend it”. In 2018, we hope to inspire everyone to take a trip somewhere they’ve never been and do something they’ve never done.. the results are MAGICAL!