When I begin working with clients, I give them a questionnaire to fill out. One of the questions is “If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?” Without fail, everyone says travel. Experiencing other cities, countries, and cultures is something that lots of people want to do, but the expense of travel can hold people back. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been able to make travel a regular part of my lifestyle, and it’s something I couldn’t live without. Along the way, I’ve discovered ways to make travel not only affordable, but beneficial to my lifestyle and business. My trips inspire creativity, help me break out of my routine, and allow me to relax. When I return home, I’m more motivated and inspired. For these reasons, allowing myself to spend time and money on traveling is well worth it.
Here are my tips for how to start thinking about your next trip.
1. Get clear on what kind of vacation you need.
I appreciate three different kinds of trips. The first is a beach vacation where everything is low-key, and I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time. For me, this is total relaxation time. The second type of trip is exploring a city, and my plans often revolve around food or live music. For instance, if one of my favorite bands is playing somewhere I love, or a unique place I haven’t been, I’ll try to coordinate my travel plans so I can see them live. My third type of trip is a quick weekend getaway, which gives me a change of scenery without the big expense of full vacation. My advice when considering a vacation is to figure out what kind of trip you currently want or need. Are you feeling burnt out from work? You might need a trip without a lot of hustling from place to place. Do you feel unmotivated and lacking inspiration? Maybe the sights, museums, music, and food of a new city will change that. If you feel like you can’t manage something big, schedule a weekend getaway to visit family or friends or just pick a town on the map you want to explore. Everyone is different when it comes to travel, so think about what works for you.
2. Make a travel budget.
I work with a money coach to budget how many trips I can allow myself to take per year. While some people might prefer to save for trips only on an occasional basis, I prefer to think of travel as a yearly expense. I know how much I can spend per trip, what’s too extravagant (for now), and where I have some wiggle room. Budgeting for trips also helps me plan ahead, and it adds to the excitement as I plan how I’ll get there, where I’ll stay, and where I want to eat. Travel, especially internationally, can often come with an unexpected expense or two, so I try to take this into account too. Staying on top of my travel budget over the course of the year allows me to enjoy my trips (and rack up those credit card points with specific goals in mind!), rather than spending the whole time feeling stressed or guilty about money. Even if a budget sounds like no fun, I highly recommend creating some type of document that will help you get a big-picture look at your finances. You may be able to budget more towards that vacation than you think.
3. Be open to last-minute possibilities.
One of the things I love about being an entrepreneur is that I can make last-minute decisions to travel, and I don’t have to check with my boss or with HR. Even better, the ability to travel at a moment’s notice can also mean more affordable tickets. “For me, owning my own business (I should mention that I work with remote clients and sub-contractors) has made travel easier because I don't need to check in or get approval from anyone before booking a trip,” says Krista Gray, founder of Goldsquare. “This means I'm able to take advantage of scorching hot travel deals or error fares (love Secret Flying for this) on a whim -- which I've done! I can work from anywhere so long as I have my trusty MacBook and reliable Wi-Fi, so there's really nothing stopping me from actually hitting the road or jetting off when I really want to.” Of course, you won’t always have the ability to be flexible, and it’s important to consider whether you’ll be stressed out by work or deadlines if you decide to go. Sometimes, though, the stars seem to align—you have a light week or can work 100% remotely, and you can take advantage of a great deal, an invitation to stay with friends you haven’t seen in years, or just the chance to break up your routine with something (and someplace) new.
4. Acknowledge why travel is important to you
Sometimes, we decide that something is a luxury because it’s expensive or not necessary to our daily lives. For many, travel falls into this category by default. Often, people don’t consider what they actually gain from the experience. For me, travel is imperative to both my happiness and creativity. When I travel, I either read and write more than usual or come back home reading and writing more. It’s incredibly motivating to me, and I know a lot of people can relate to this. In pushing your limits, travel can also help you learn more about yourself. Take Lindsay Tabas, Founder of Taybiss, who backpacked for six months in 2010, and says that the experience was crucial to her realization that she could become an entrepreneur. “I learned to take risks, I learned to handle unexpectedly terrible and glorious situations” she says. “I navigated totally new territories and systems by myself. And, I pursued creative projects; whatever I fancied at the time. I actually ended up getting paid to write for an online graffiti magazine.” When you dig into why you want to travel and consider the insight or inspiration it can add to your life, it’s easier to rationalize spending time and money on it. Rather than a luxury, it may be something that you decide is necessary and important for your lifestyle.