“The trouble is, you think you have time”
Make your dream happen…now! Here’s how…
- Decide On a Timeline
The first step is to decide when you can and want to travel. Going for any trip longer than two weeks will require some serious planning and you’ll likely have to begin this planning process a minimum of six months in advance. You may decide to quit your job but that drastic move is not necessary. Most companies will gladly give you a Leave of Absence, unpaid of course, or lay you off for a season. Apply and wait for approval of your leave before you book anything. Once you have a timeline you can figure out how much you can fit into that time frame.
- Create a Rough Itinerary
People always ask us how we decide where to go on our adventures. For us, there is nowhere in the world that we wouldn’t go, so it’s really just a process of elimination and choosing where we want to go the most at that time. If you’re doing a multi-country trip, and you’re also flexible as to where you go, look for the most inexpensive flights. The best flight search engine for this is Skyscanner. Your itinerary will change as you start booking things and be flexible in allowing that to that happen.
- Figure Out a Budget
Once you have a timeline and an itinerary you can figure out how much you will need to save in order to make the trip happen. The first thing you should do is research all your travel expenses: flights, trains, buses and ferries. Then decide how much you can afford to spend on accommodations per night. We typically stay at a variety of accommodation styles and allow ourselves a budget of $50-$60 CAD per night. Lastly you’ll need to give yourself a weekly food and entertainment budget and that will differ greatly depending on the time of year and country/countries to which you are traveling. Add all of those costs up, flights, accommodations, food/entertainment, and you’ve got your budget!
- Save, Save, Save
When you know the amount you need (your budget) to save and how much time you have to save it (your timeline) you can set a savings schedule for yourself. Start by breaking it down so that you know exactly how much you need to save each month, week or paycheck in order to make savings goals for yourself.
- Work, Work, Work
If you’re having trouble reaching your savings goals with your “9-5” job this might be when you want to look into other forms of income. Get a second job and work part-time a few nights a week. If your field of work allows for it, take on side jobs. Or look around your house for useless junk you don’t need anymore and sell it online. Living a minimalist lifestyle will help you in saving. If you can live without it, don’t buy it.
- Research, Research, Research
In the modern world within which we live, the internet will help you greatly in researching, however there is a lot to be said for cracking the spine of a Lonely Planet guide to get yourself familiar with your travel destination(s). The most important items to research are: inner-country and inner-city travel and public transit systems, accommodations, popular attractions and sites to see, as well as familiarizing yourself with the culture of the land.
When you’re looking for accommodations use search engines to shop prices; we typically use Airbnb, Hostelworld and Trivago. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, turn to Tripadvisor to check reviews and see travelers photos before you make your final decision. When selecting your accommodations the location within the city is extremely important and is commonly overlooked by new travelers. If a hostel or Airbnb listing is really cheap but looks beautiful it’s likely because it’s in a rough part of the city. If you book out of the city centre to save on accommodation costs, you’ll end up paying more in transit costs to get to the city centre each day, so it’s much easier to pay a bit more for an ideal location. The more you study the map and learn about the districts, boroughs and transit system of each city, the better. This will help you feel more comfortable with your surroundings when you arrive in the foreign land.
When researching popular tourists sites, and the requirements in order to visit them, keep in mind that each area of the world has a busy season, typically dependent on weather. For example, Europe is always busier in the warn summer months from June-August. Some attractions or excursions (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail in Peru or going to Elephant Nature Park in Thailand) require booking months in advance to ensure a spot. Don’t wait until you arrive to book all your day trips. If there is something you really want to do book it in advance.
Finally it is very important to research cultural norms and traditions within the country/countries you plan to visit. As a foreigner within another’s country the last thing you want to do is offend the locals or be scorned for misconduct.
- Figuring Out the Logistics
The final thing to do is figure out all of the logistical items about leaving home for a lengthy period of time. If you’re a home owner, like us, speak to someone at your bank about your options. We’re with TD Canada Trust, who allow the option of a Mortgage Vacation, which is something we have considered. That being said, another option is to add your rent or mortgage costs to your budget and continue payments while you’re traveling, which is what we do.
Next, you’ll want to inform bill payees that you’ll be away and, in some cases, you can suspend your services to save money. Ensure that you’ve called all of the following outlets to let them know of your travel plans: your bank, your TV provider, your phone provider, your internet provider, your car insurance provider and any other payees that you may have.
If you’re leaving a home behind, make sure that you have someone available to peek in on it once a week, or so, to make sure everything is alright. You’ll also need to have a friend or family member pick up your mail while you’re away.
When you’ve covered all of your bases and everything is planned it’s time to get excited! Share your travel news with friends and family and begin a countdown until your adventure of your lifetime!