My first airplane ride was in 1971. I was 13 months old and my parents decided to move to Algeria for my dad's work. I don't remember this particular plane ride, but I do know this was the beginning of my life-long obsession with travel. I jokingly say that I work to travel, but there is a little bit of truth there. Mostly I work, because I love what I do, but my work also affords me the ability to travel and travel often.
My most recent trip was Rome to Florence to Venice to Lausanne to Paris to Normandy to the Loire Valley to Paris. Twenty-two days of travel through three countries with my friend, Stephanie, and then my husband. During the trip I posted often on FaceBook various pictures of things we had seen or done. Often the comments would be "I wish I could do something like that!" This post is about that quote. Basically, you can! You just have to decide to do it, plan it, and then GO!
There a few barriers people have against traveling. One is fear and the other is cost. I will not say I am never nervous about traveling. This past fall I sat through a 17 hour plane ride for a trip to South Africa. This was not the easiest experience of my life, however, if I would have given into this fear, I would have missed so many blessings and the opportunity to bless others. Worrying about the what-ifs will limit your experiences, opportunities, and blessings faster than anything else. Stop worrying! Do not be afraid!
Cost is also a realistic concern. However, traveling does not require saving for a lifetime or going into crazy debt. You have to decide what kind of traveling you wish to do and budget for it. If you do not require 5 star hotels and three fancy meals a day, you can travel realistically anywhere in the world at a decent rate. Our first overseas trip was to England for our daughter's high school graduation. We saved for three years by putting aside any extra income/overtime. We spent about $6000 for 15 days. We could have gone for less and have, after learning a few tricks. I will share these with you.
First and foremost, save for your travel outside of your budget. We cut out quite a few extras (coffees, eating out, subscriptions, etc...) and put the money into a special account to travel. We work overtime and save it. We have always had a policy that our kids have to supply their own spending money during travel.
Airfare is the greatest expense. Play the game. I use Google Flights, Kayak, Expedia, and other sites to watch for flights. Fortunately, we live close to New Orleans, so we can often find decent priced flights. However, we will often use a cheap airline to get to New York, Boston, Atlanta, then take a direct flight from there to Europe. The cheapest we have flown round trip to Europe is $550 and the most expensive was $950. Everything effects the cost of flights from the day to the time to the connections. There are often great sales if you watch and if you are flexible. We have also used low-fare international carriers like Aer Lingus and Norwegian and found both to be great. Another expenses related to flying is parking for your car. Either have someone drop you off or find a hotel that allows you to leave your car there for a few weeks free of charge, if you rent a room one night. Luggage is another airfare expense. We travel with strictly one carry-on and one personal item. There will be a post about packing at a later date, but trust me, you can do it.
The next big cost is lodging. We do use hotels usually at an airport before an early morning flight. I joined Hilton Honors and try to stick with this brand in order to accumulate free nights. Pick a hotel and stick with it. However, hotels are not our long-term stay solutions. We just completed our 25th AirBnB stay. We have stayed in AirBnBs in eight countries and six states. We love this very affordable and homey solution. We only choose 5 star places and usually only book homes managed by Superhosts. These types of lodging solutions have many positives, but cost is at the top of the list. My favorite AirBnB cost just under $70 per night in Florence. We had a one-bedroom apartment with a gorgeous terrace in a lovely neighborhood. We have stayed in a great neighborhood in London, on a bay in Nova Scotia, a lodge built in the 1400's in England, and a beautiful magical home in Wales. Authentic experiences are very valuable.
Travel within the area is another expense. In Europe, I highly recommend using the public transportation from rail to metro, as much as possible. This will be your cheapest mode if you book earlier enough. Renting a car is sometimes required, but pay attention to information concerning renting a car. For example, the toll roads in France were really expensive. If you do decided to rent a car, learn the road rules before going on your trip. Parking and traffic citations can add unfortunate costs. Fuel prices in Europe are more than $6 per gallon and prices are by liter, which can be deceptive. However, their cars get much better gas mileage.
Food is another expense. Basically, avoid the tourist traps and eat local with locals. Most of us do not eat three large meals a day, so why do this on vacation? If you have an AirBnB, you can knock out breakfast in your rental. Then find local eats for the other meals. We also love to stop by a shop and buy things for a quick picnic. When we were in Prince Edward Island a few years ago, we stopped at a local farm stand and bought the most delicious produce. We went home and ate fresh, yummy vegetables for supper. The potatoes were still warm from the ground!
Finally, don't buy gifts for everyone at home. Seriously. We may buy a few small items, like a piece of art or local spices. Memories are the best things to bring home and your carry-on luggage will not allow for much else. Be selective and resist the urge to blow your money on trinkets.
Start dreaming! Joey and I have a 30 year travel plan. Dream big! Then, JUMP!
I am a teacher, which in a single word, sums up my passions and my belief in the future.