Smart money habits and skillful budgeting are some of the most important skills in life. And we all know it’s important to cut back on spending, avoid credit card debt and increase savings.
Yet there’s one category some may call a “splurge” but I say is a necessity: travel.
Vacations don’t need to cost thousands of dollars spent at five-star, luxury hotels. Adventure travel on a budget enhances your life, expands your worldview and educates you in so many ways. Here’s why – and how – I make saving money for travel a priority in my budget.
It Forces You to Learn
I recently got back from a tour of central Europe where our tour guide said something that stuck with me. When talking about the importance of embracing cultural differences, he advised us: “Just because something is different than how you do it, doesn’t make it wrong.”
People often think their way is the only right way, but that’s not so. Traveling opens your eyes and expands your worldview like few other experiences can. It allows you to see a different way of doing things, see a new perspective and form new opinions.
It Enables You to Explore the World
The world is such a vast, beautiful place, and people don’t explore it enough. Every time I travel, I see something incredible that makes me grateful to be alive — whether that’s gazing at the Eiffel Tower in Paris or wandering around Yellowstone National Park.
Taking the time to choose a location, save the money and book a trip allows me to see parts of the world that are truly incredible. Although it initially hurts to take a chunk out of my savings to pay for a vacation, for me, it has always been worth it in the end.
You Meet New People
It’s easy to think your community of friends, family and coworkers are the only people in the world. But when you travel, you meet and interact with people from across the globe. I’m from Salt Lake City and have made friends with people from Sri Lanka, Australia and Russia on my travels.
Each person has a unique story, and it’s fascinating to connect with other travelers. You’ll get so much more out of travel than just a plane ticket and hotel room. You’ll meet lifelong friends and make connections across the world.
The Memories are Priceless
Life is busy and chaotic, and it’s hard to coordinate quality family time with everyone when we all have jam-packed schedules. While we can spend time together throughout the week at home, it’s hard to be fully engaged in each moment when there are constant obligations and distractions pulling us away.
But when we travel as a family, we have mindfully set aside time to be together. It doesn’t matter if we travel to a foreign destination, or plan a weekend staycation in our hometown. The point is, we make time for a memorable getaway as a family. Some of the best memories in my life have been while traveling with my family, and it’s always been worth the price tag.
You Expand Your Palate
I love to eat good food. Dining out is a social activity and magical experience for me. I see travel as an opportunity to stretch my comfort zone and try new dining experiences. Plus, it really is true that one of the best ways to learn about a culture and interact with locals is to share a meal.
When I travel, I try to turn my judgmental side off and open myself up to the experience, engaging all five senses — taste, touch, sight, smell and sound. This way, the meals I’ve eaten while traveling have become truly unforgettable.
It Boosts Your Street Smarts
Traveling in foreign locations forces you to become independent, notice your surroundings, practice safe habits and navigate an unfamiliar area. Often you’re in a place where the locals don’t speak your native language or follow familiar customs, so you must communicate and get around on your own. Travel makes you street smart, a valuable life skill.
You Improve as a Person
At the end of your life, all you will have is your memories. People and things come and go, but memories never fade. Travel enhances, educates and makes you a better person. In fact, studies have shown that travel boosts your creativity, makes you a better problem-solver, and those who take all their vacation days are more likely to get a raise or bonus.
Making Room in Your Budget
So you now have the desire to travel, but how do you make that a reality? Planning and paying for a trip takes sacrifice, time and careful management of your budget. Here’s how I make it work:
Once I determine where I want to go, I start comparing prices on airfare, hotels, car rentals and additional costs of the trip. I’ll set up Google Flight alerts to track fluctuating prices on airfare, for example. Once I have the estimated cost, I’ll adjust my budget accordingly. I’ll pick up extra shifts at my job or nanny for families in my neighborhood. My husband and I will eat at home more and avoid eating at restaurants. These cutbacks help boost my income and allow me to pay for vacations.
So choose a destination, plan your itinerary and start budgeting for that trip you’ve been meaning to take.