We are asked a lot, or field a lot of comments from those around us, about how it “must be nice” to always be up to something, to always be ticking the next item off our proverbial bucket list, or how it must be nice to be looking forward to traveling to our next destination, or the comments about how its good we did our traveling before kids because now that we have kids, “good luck”.
To be completely honest, we have never really understood why there are so many such comments. You too can travel, you just have to figure out what you are willing to “give up” to gain some amazing experiences.
We have such itchy travel feet, that we start to feel so claustrophobic and trapped if we don’t get out and explore something new. You should see Debbie after being pregnant for nine months, as she gets horrible all day sickness for the entire pregnancy and is so restricted to what she can do because of all the nausea. As this pregnancy ends, you should see how crazy she is going, making plans to get moving as soon as baby arrives and she isn’t feeling so horribly sick anymore.
While others are buying all the newest gadgets, clothes, and spending endless amounts of money on eating out, we take a different approach, the frugal approach to living. The majority of the time we prepare our own meals (which is a lot healthier, too) and you’ll still see us wearing that same shirt we bought on sale two years ago. That’s okay with us. We value experiences more than things. To us, it is far more important to invest in our life experiences instead of just splurging on the “next big thing”. Our primary focus above the basic life necessities is putting our money toward experiences, travel and making memories. When we are old and sitting in a rocking chair reminiscing, we want it to be about what we have experienced. When we get there, the fact that we had the newest iPhone won’t matter.
We do, however, both have jobs that we come back to after our travel time has ended. Especially with kids, we feel the need to have consistency and to have our family close by for those family that would like strong, lasting relationships with our kids. As nice as it would be to just pick up and take off, right now that doesn’t feel like it is in the cards. By choice.
First, you need to make travel a priority. If you’re always just daydreaming about what you want to experience, and you don’t put a plan into action, good luck getting there. We like to think of what we purchase in terms of what that amount of money could get us in our next destination. It really helps to put money into perspective and to help judge if what you are buying is a need to have, or a nice to have.
We also put away an X amount of money each week into a travel account, which helps to have funds available when a good travel deal pops up that we just can’t resist.
Darcy takes his lunch to work, Debbie is a work at home Mom, so eating out isn’t tempting, and we rarely stop by a coffee shop or grab fast food. We also went down to one car and Darcy takes transit downtown every day while he catches up on watching some movies or shows he wants to see on his iPad. This saves us one car payment, insurance, a ton of gas, downtown parking fees and toll bridge fees every month. And trust me, all that adds up fast in Vancouver.
We don’t keep a lot of unnecessary items. If we don’t need it, we sell it. That way we aren’t holding onto clutter we don’t need and it makes us think twice about what we buy to begin with.
Debbie is also the deal queen. We rarely buy something that is not on sale. It takes some planning but we save a TON of money by doing a little planning in advance.
Use reward points. We make all our purchases on 1-2 credit cards to make sure we take advantage of reward points. The trick is to make sure you aren’t overspending above your means; you still need to budget and with a credit card, probably budget even more closely as it could be a slippery slope.
We don’t stay in five star accommodations. We are okay with staying in a room that in clean, and without fancy gadgets, but we may splurge once in a while when it is warranted. On our last big trip to South Africa, we splurged and spent a night in a phenomenal tree house. Once in a while we spend a night somewhere nice and don’t have any guilt because of it.
Groupon is also especially helpful if you are traveling across the states. Some countries won’t allow you to make a purchase if you are not a resident of that country, but we have never had a problem making a purchase for our travels within the US and Canada. It is also a great resource to find something that you may not have known about otherwise in the city.
You too can travel. It all really just comes down to the choices you make. Take a hard look at where you are spending your money and figure out how you can cut back to add some “exotic” experiences into your life. When you’re sitting on the beach on some Caribbean island, I promise that you will be thankful you stopped eating out every day and learned to prepare some of your own meals. The rewards you receive will far surpass any small sacrifices.
In short, if you can afford to waste money on clothes, eating out, and the works, you can afford to see the world. Travel can be affordable, if you learn how to plan for it and set it as a priority in your life. After all, there is never a better time to start to travel – if not now, then when?
What sacrifices have you made to be able to travel? What sacrifices to do you plan on making?