Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality

How many times have you said you’re living vicariously through another’s words, pictures or stories? When are you going to stop living through someone else’s travels and start some of your own? Are you concerned you don’t have the money? Or the time off work? Or are you just dragging your feet waiting to win the Powerball so you’ll have an unlimited supply of both?

Virtual Reality

Lean back and close your eyes. Tune out everything around you– the TV, your husband, the kids or your boss (just don’t get fired). Imagine yourself in that place where you’re happy, relaxed, charged or energized, where you feel the stresses of daily life slipping away. I have a friend who asks me to bring her magnets when I travel. I’ve probably sent her two dozen or so. Don’t be that girl, turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality.

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Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality

The thing is, she hasn’t been to a single one of the places herself. I wrote her a little note with the last batch of magnets that innocently said one day I hoped to receive some magnets from her travels. She stopped talking to me. I think– I know she took my suggestion the wrong way. It was my intention to motivate her not to make her feel like she was imposing on me. It just seemed strange that she had all these magnets on her fridge and wasn’t interested in venturing past her county line.

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Sea Kayaking in Phang Nga Phuket Thailand

I don’t want you to be that guy or girl

How much time have you spent dreaming about traveling? How many times have you told me or someone else who travels that you are living vicariously through our words, pictures or stories? When are you going to stop living through someone else’s travels and start making some of your own?

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Why Aren’t You Traveling?

Are you concerned you don’t have the money? Or the time off work? How do you turn your travel dreams into travel memories? Are you just dragging your feet waiting to win the Powerball so you’ll have an unlimited supply of both? So often we are told we can have everything we want without making any sacrifices. This just ain’t true. I have to make some sacrifices with every single trip I plan and unless I win the above Powerball, I probably always will. I recognize the difference between an excuse and a real obstacle. And what I’ve discovered is that most of us have more than our share of excuses.

No matter what your excuse… 2016 is your year to break out of the travel rut you’re in and see what you’ve been missing out there. And wouldn’t you know it, right now is an excellent time to travel if your currency is USD just about anywhere you could imagine going. One of my major motivations for starting this blog was to show just how easy it was to travel. The money will always be an issue. I’ve worked hard to learn a little French, Spanish and German, but for the most part, I don’t know any other languages but English. I don’t have any connections, relatives or timeshares outside of the country, so I have to book accommodations just like you.

Travel is Not Easy

No one will ever say that travel is easy or without any hiccups. I am a little black girl who has encountered a few extra stares, had to endure foreigners twirling their fingers through my twists and unfortunately, I’ve even encountered a few not so pleasant people who were unwilling to see past the color of my skin. And yet none of that has stopped me from traveling, wanting to travel more and trying to encourage YOU to see the world for what it is– imperfect.

Travel IS the convoluted ideas,  perceptions, opinions of what constitutes food, the people who become representative of the places we travel to and the cultural beliefs, traditions, and norms that may make us uncomfortable or even terrified. If travel didn’t take us out of our comfort zone, we’d have no reason to ever leave home in the first place. All it’s going to take is a little planning, budgeting, and determination (and following the steps below) to get you off your couch and onto the beach, under the waves, or on the mountaintop you’ve been imagining in no time.

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1. Write IT Down

You don’t have to start a blog, but you can. Write your travel plans down on paper. I love making lists. Make a list of when and where you want to go, what you want to see when you get there and how much money it will take. And then put it someplace you can see it every single day to remind you of where you could be with a little…

2. Visualization

Take it a step further and visualize yourself there. Visualization is a very powerful tool for getting what you want. Study after study shows that if you can see yourself doing something, you will try harder to make it happen. Sure you pin all of the exotic places you hope to travel, but unless you open up that board, you may pin something and just as quickly forget about. Instead, print out pictures of the destinations you’d like to visit. Get on the mailing lists of the hotels you’d love to visit. Signup for price alerts on all the airlines to receive real-time price alerts. And don’t forget to subscribe to your favorite blogs (hint, hint) so that’ll you’ll always be reminded of new travel opportunities, tips, hacks, and latest travel information on a regular basis.

3. Start Saving for IT

My 2016 travel goals include Xi’an, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. I had to substitute my desire to go to the Philippines because it busted my travel budget–something I’ve learned to embrace. If money were no object, where would you go? In order to turn my travel dreams into travel reality, I had to sacrifice. Create a budget and stick to it. I realize this is where I lose most people. But in my humble opinion, don’t quit your job to travel unless someone is paying you to.

Alternately, I realize no matter how strong your willpower and desire maybe, but no one will take that determination as to pay for a plane ticket or hotel room. Shoot you can’t even buy a Happy Meal with that. If I’m wrong, please contact me. Look for ways to save. Did you know that if you make coffee at home in the morning instead of buying it at a coffee shop, you could save upwards of $1000 per year?

Travel Hacks

Did you know that you should enable private browsing when booking flights and hotels? Travel sites often track your visits and will raise the price simply because you’ve made multiple inquiries. Travel “hacking” is the general term used for saving money while traveling– from packing to shacking is what I tell people. I admit to not being an expert in this arena, but Google is a powerful tool and creates experts every single day. Also, look into frequent flyer miles, hotel points and loyalty programs, apartment sharing and house/ dog sitting opportunities, couch surfing, etc, etc.

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Saving does involve some sacrifice. It wasn’t until we returned to the US from Germany, did I realize just how much money I had spent over three years and 30+ continents. It took a couple years to rebound because I am not working full-time. I don’t recommend anyone go into debt or spending beyond their means to buy a house, a car or to travel. It’s not worth it.

This is Key

That being said… Saving won’t be as hard as you think if you really want to travel and figure out where you can save a few bucks:

  1. Make a reasonable budget and stick to it. This is especially important if you are in a relationship.
  2. Do you really need another pair of designer shoes, a new iPhone of 567 cable channels?
  3. Cut down on eating out, its generally not good for you anyway.
  4. Go with a pre-paid phone plan from Sprint or AT&T or Verizon.
  5. Is overtime an option? How about a PT job?
  6. Do you really have to have Starbucks every morning?
  7. Sounds like a great time to kick the nicotine habit
  8. Do you have a talent you can earn some extra money doing?
  9. Did I miss anything???
  10. I did… make sure your savings goals are realistic. You may not enjoy an entire year of Raman noodles or walk instead of taking the bus in 3 feet of snow.
  11. Exactly how many designer shoes do you have anyway?

4. Set Realistic Goals to Achieve IT

Travel within the region you live in. When I lived in Germany, I only traveled to Europe. I spent approximately $30K for three years of travel for a family of four. It’s a lot of money, but in reality, I think I set a pretty reasonable goal… I just didn’t stick to it ALL THE TIME. Now that I am in Asia, I am limiting our travel to Asia to cut down on airfare and travel time. However traveling throughout Asia, has not been as easy or as cheap as it was to travel across the open borders of Europe.

So far we’ve had to purchase a Visa to travel to China ($135 good for 10 years) and I believe the only other country we’ll need a Visa prior to travel in Vietnam. Asia is such a large region and it takes an entire day to travel to its four corners. If you have a lot of debt, 2016 might not be the year you travel around SE Asia for 3 months, but can you can most likely get to Thailand or Vietnam for a week or two.

5. Friends Make IT More Fun

Who doesn’t love girlfriend trips? I mentioned wanting to go to a few places and my girlfriends stepped and said: “let’s do it”. So we did. Three of my most memorable trips, for completely different reasons, were taken with my girlfriends. I took a last-minute trip to Hike the Cinque Terra in Italy, planned a long road trip to Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest with three different friends and shared my worst travel experience TO DATE with yet another girlfriend in Poland.

And yet, I’d do each and every one of those trips again, even Poland, if I could do them again with my friends. They were made more affordable because we shared hotels, pooled our money for activities, shared the costs of gas, tolls, and vignettes as well as the stresses of the journey and the memories that are never far from our collective memories.

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6. Just Book IT

What are you waiting for now? It’s time to get off the couch and gather some magnets of your own. Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality. Subscribe to Duffelbagspouse Travels.

7 thoughts on “Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality

  1. I wish it was that simple. For a broke single mom building a brand by herself, there’s no amount of planning and visualizing that’s going to get me to Europe anytime soon.

    But in the future? I will be there – it’s guaranteed.

  2. I’m so with you on the budget! We’re planning on taking the kids on their first trip to Europe next year (from Australia), so this year is the year of the budget for us. I’m thinking there will be lots of roadtrips within Australia this year!

  3. Great tips all around! But I think you started off with the most important thing of all: asking ourselves ‘WHY do I not REALLY go’. if we can answer that honestly, we are one step closer to finding a solution to whatever problem travel seems (or is) posing. No excuses 😉

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