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Overcoming Financial Barriers to Travel

It’s common to hear folks cite finances as the reason they don’t travel.  In addition, a popular misconception is that those who do travel are either financially better off or irresponsible with their money.  Realistically, however, people with all different budgets find ways to travel every day without going into debt.  Chances are, you can too.  Here are some tips to keep finances from getting in the way of your dream trip(s):

  1. First things first, shift your perspective. View travel as a rewarding investment resulting in memories that will last a lifetime, rather than a luxury.  Beyond the importance of rest and rejuvenation, travel yields innumerable personal benefits.  See my article on Why You Should Travel to learn more about why it’s worth your time and money. 
  2. Next, prioritize your spending. Many folks complain about not having money for travel while owning motorcycles or expensive homes, getting their nails or hair done regularly, routinely buying things like makeup, home gadgets, and coffee, or spending exorbitant amounts on local vacations with their kids.  These folks don’t have money for the travel they dream about because they have simply chosen to spend their money on other things.  Travel may be as simple as making different choices.  A weekend in Charleston could go toward a plane ticket to Hawaii if that’s where you’d rather be. 
  3. Start a travel fund. As a Social Worker, I understand funds can be tight and travel can be a tough goal to accomplish when it’s a struggle to just cover bills.  However, even a little bit each month builds up over time.  And if you receive a holiday bonus or tax return, appropriate some of that money to your travel fund. 
  4. Book in advance and over time to break up costs (ex. book your hotel this month, day tour next month, flight the following month). With sites like booking.com, you can choose when to pay for your lodging, breaking up payments between the time of booking and the day of your trip. In addition, many airlines will now let you finance plane tickets. 
  5. Skip travel insurance and ‘extras’ in places where it might not be necessary. For example, your auto insurance or credit card company might provide you with protection if renting a vehicle in another state.  Also, many countries have public healthcare systems available to foreign travelers should you need medical care.   
  6. Choose a less-expensive destination. Perhaps in place of Australia, you might opt for Indonesia where you can stay for two weeks for less than $100.00.  Conversely, if your heart is set on a more expensive destination, you can save money by staying in a hostel (some offer private rooms) or renting a room in a home through Airbnb depending on your comfort level.  If nothing else, use location to your advantage by picking more economical spots with public transport or main roads available to connect you to the areas you want to visit.   
  7. Consider other ways to save. From hotel points and coupon books to city passes that help you see more for less, take advantage of all the deals available to you.  Also, be on the lookout for special rates based on dates and any other benefits you might personally qualify for, such as military discounts.  
  8. Take a temporary side job. If you’ve always wanted to go to a particular destination, but don’t have the extra funds, consider taking on extra work temporarily to expedite your savings.  Along these lines, many folks who have embarked on long-term travel take on jobs in different countries to cover their expenses along the way.  
  9. For travel enthusiasts on a budget looking for a longer-term experience, consider gaining travel through work such as with the Peace Corps, WWOOF, or teaching English abroad. And for students, don’t dismiss study abroad opportunities as some programs contain coursework that can count toward your degree and are covered by the same tuition you would pay to stay on campus. 
  10. Collect travel reward points. Although they often get a bad rap, credit cards can be incredibly rewarding!  Many card companies offer cash back for travel that you can accumulate at no cost to you by simply paying your balance in full each month.  For example, by making everyday purchases with my credit card, I was able to subtract $800.00 from my trip to Italy!  Keep in mind, this is a personal tip that might not work for everyone.  If you’ve gotten yourself into credit card debt, stick to the other tips above.

With so many options, just about everyone can travel if they have the determination to do so.  If finances are your biggest obstacle, don’t give up!  It may take you longer than you’d like to save up for your dream trip, but you’ll be so glad you did when you’re ready to embark on your adventure and it will be worth the wait. 😊

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