I have people say to me that they would love to travel but don’t have the money for it. In many cases, if I can afford to travel, they certainly can! I am convinced that more people living in the 1st world could afford to travel if….. if it became a priority. My husband is a pastor and I am a social worker. Together, we have been to: Mexico, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, spent a month in Australia, California, Grand Cayman Island, and various other places in the US and Canada. I don’t say this to brag by any stretch but to demonstrate that it is possible to travel with average incomes and to do so without going into debt! Here’s how we’ve done it:
1. we bought a house with only one of our incomes (instead of getting a mortgage based on two incomes). we could have become house-rich and life (i.e. travel) poor by purchasing a home grander and bigger than we really need. instead, this decision has freed up some cash to put more money towards paying off debt and for travel.
2. we evaluated our priorities. for us, it is more important to be able to travel then to buy newer/better vehicles. we are happy driving our current vehicles as they are paid for in full. having one less bill frees up money to afford to travel.
3. we cut costs in little ways that add up over time. for example, I don’t pay for parking @ work. instead, I park for free and walk 10 minutes to my office. sure, it can be inconvenient in the cold, rain, and snow, but it saves us $50-60 dollars per month. we also don’t have internet or cable at home. small “sacrifices” for us that add up over time and helps there to be room in the budget for travel.
We’ve tried to live our life in balance. We are passionate about being debt-free and living within our means. We also realized that if we wait to have our mortgage paid off to travel, we could be waiting quite a while. We want to do some traveling as we are young and more energetic. So we’ve tried to strike a balance between paying off debt AND travel.
Maybe it’s snobby of me to assume that many people in the 1st world that want to travel but say that they can’t afford to really can. Besides the need to make it more of a priority with regard to budgeting, it also depends on where the person would like to travel. Certainly some places are out of reach for most. I still believe that many could travel debt-free if there was more planning and intentionality given to it. It also comes down to delayed gratification. What I want today (i.e. take out, a new outfit) is at war with what I want ultimately a year from now. For us, as long as we have our memory, we are grateful for making traveling a priority. There are times that we reflect on certain trips and experiences and its pure gold. We wouldn’t trade those experiences for any material possession.
If you are seriously thinking that you’d like to make some budget/lifestyle changes to help afford travel, I encourage you to sit down and plan, plan, plan. You may be surprised with what you are capable of with intention, desire and perseverance!