One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to traveling is whether it’s necessary to have a lot of money to satisfy your wanderlust. If you’ve ever looked at photos of your dream destination and thought it was out of reach because of financial reasons, then keep reading.
Today, my mission is to debunk the idea that traveling requires a lot of money. The secret to attaining your dream trip isn’t winning the lottery or a giveaway. It’s actually organization and dedication. In this article, I’m going to outline the five steps related to planning and executing your trip.
1 – Plan your travel budget
Money isn’t the secret, but it is necessary.
Organize your personal finances and map your trip’s costs within your reality. Consider the main costs, your priorities (do you care about the hotel? Or do you prefer spending more on dining? Or maybe on excursions?), and avoid all unnecessary expenses. Instead of eating out every meal, budget for grocery shopping instead. If you will only sleep at the hotel, then find inexpensive (but safe) accommodations. These are just some examples of how you can cut down costs, and these things become clearer when you start planning.
It would certainly be easier to plan a trip if money weren’t an issue, but we don’t have to wait until we get to that point to start travelling. And truthfully, no matter the budget, planning will still be required. So stop using money as an excuse! Take out the spreadsheets, pencil, and calculator, and get started.
If you would like to learn how to organize your personal finances, check out our personal finance series to get started on organizing your money and achieving your goals.
2 – Define your dream destination
The next step is to create a list of destinations you are eager to visit. If you’re like me and want to visit the whole world, list the top ten places that cross your mind when you think about traveling. Now, determine both the level of affordability (lower costs) and how long you’d like to stay in each specific place (matching length to your available vacation days).
Starting with accessible destinations is very important because it allows you to save money and travel as quickly as possible. In addition to allowing you to start living your dreams sooner, this will motivate you to stick to your financial planning, which is our essential step one.
3 – Get your travel documents
As annoying as it may be, the bureaucratic part cannot be left out of your planning. From mandatory vaccines (such as yellow fever) to tourist visas, it’s important to plan ahead, especially for international travel. Different destinations require different documents; however, a passport is required for any international trip. If you don’t yet have a passport, search for the steps on how to do so in your country on a Government website.
Passport requirements (USA) | Passport requirements (CANADA) | Passport requirements (South Africa)
List of countries that require a Yellow Fever Vaccine
List of countries that are open to travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 (as of July 2021)
4 – Buy your plane ticket
Buying airline tickets requires dedication and research. This is one of the most expensive parts of your trip, so visit trustworthy and secure websites to compare prices well in advance.
In addition to the airlines’ own websites, there are some safe websites that I use a lot that make comparisons and itinerary planning easy and also suggest dates with better prices. These sites include Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kayak.
A tip for those who like sales and cheap tickets is to look for tickets at dawn. Due to lower demand, tickets are usually lower in price during the early morning hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
5 – Plan your travel itinerary
Planning the itinerary can be the most difficult and/or fun task in planning your dream trip. While it’s exciting to see your trip come to life, you will often have to sacrifice some things you wanted to do because of time and money.
This is when important parts of your trip will be decided: transportation, accommodation, meals, attractions, and currency exchange. This is a time-consuming process, so my biggest tip is: less is more.
When we first start planning, we want to see everything possible. We want to go on day trips to the neighboring countries, see every sight, and do everything for the lowest cost possible. However, it’s important to remember that we need at least a clean bed and nourishing food in order to actually enjoy our trip. We’re talking about your dream destination here. Leave some time in your itinerary to truly enjoy it.
Yes, travel requires a lot of thought, logistics, and planning ahead, but after your trip, you will never be the same. It’s worth it! Take it slow, one step at a time, but go! Then tag us in your travel photos!