Do you find traveling to be stressful or life-giving?
When talking to people, I hear two common reasons why they choose not to travel regularly. One is, “It’s too much work and too stressful. It’s easier to just stay home!” One of my goals with this blog is to SIMPLIFY travel for families, to make it more accessible and less stressful. I believe traveling is massively important, and I want to provide tips, ideas, and inspiration so that more families choose to make it a part of their lives.
(You can click on the “Adventures” tab above to see all my posts about travel. There is much more to come, so be sure to subscribe!)
The second issue I commonly hear: “It’s too expensive!” people will tell me, “We can’t afford it.”. Now THIS I understand!
When Jordan and I first got married, we were poorer than church mice. We lived in a one bedroom apartment, and did not own furniture! I am not kidding. We slept on a futon mattress on the floor, our dining set was a card table and chairs we borrowed from a friend, and most of our possessions were in boxes because we didn’t have dressers and bookshelves. We both worked multiple part-time jobs while Jordan was in nursing school, we lived simply and we LOVED it. It was honestly one of the sweetest times in our life! The Beatles told us “All you need is love…” and we believed it.
Despite living like peasants, though, we discovered how much we loved adventuring together, and travel became a priority for us. Our trips weren’t big and fancy, but we would jump on the Metra and ride the rails to Chicago for $14. We’d blow our meager savings on a weekend exploring the city, then come home and work hard to build it back up.
Years passed, and eventually Jordan graduated college and got his dream job as a pediatric critical care nurse. We finally had real money! And at the exact same time, we had children. Four of them. In three years. It’s amazing how quickly real money disappears!
But if anything, travel became even more of a priority for us. For one thing, we recognized the need to have time alone as a couple, and also because we believed that our children need to see the world around them.
Since then, we have developed ways to save and carefully budget our trips. I’m happy to share these ideas with you in hopes that maybe they will make traveling with your family seem like less of a far-fetched ideal, and more of a real possibility!
1. Start a Travel Savings
This is the number one way to make travel happen. Save for it! Start a separate savings account at your bank and contribute to it every month. Put aside whatever you reasonably can, and don’t worry if it’s not much. Can you afford $20 a month? Do it. Fifty or a hundred? Great. Several hundred? Awesome. The point is to be constantly saving, no matter the amount. But here is a rule you absolutely must stick to: DO NOT touch the money in your travel savings for anything other than travel. Don’t raid it when your car needs new tires or your furnace breaks down. Your travel savings are sacred!
Tip: We have part of our paycheck direct-deposited into our travel savings, so we never even see the money and are not tempted to use it for anything else.
2. Build on Your Travel Savings Whenever You Can
Whenever you get a windfall of extra cash, keep your travel savings in mind as being a priority! A part of our tax return goes into our travel fund every year. If you get bonuses from work, large amounts of cash from family at Christmas, or any other money outside of your normal income, consider stashing some of it away for travel.
Tip: For birthday or Christmas gifts, ask for cash, gas cards, or gift cards for hotels, airlines, and restaurants!
3. Give Up Something Now in Order to Gain Much Later
Here’s a bit of truth: we all spend our money on whatever is a priority for us. Most of us make whatever we make, and we choose how to use that income. If you want traveling with your family to happen, and you are not filthy rich, you are going to have to CHOOSE to make it a priority. We choose to not live like kings most of the time so that we can afford to travel. We don’t have all the latest tech gadgets, our house is furnished simply (although we do have furniture now! Ha!), we don’t spend a lot on clothes or shoes or fancy toys. None of those things matter to us nearly as much as seeing the world together.
If you feel frustrated because you can’t seem to save enough for travel, take an honest look at how you’re spending your money now. Is there anything you can give up or even just cut back on? Is your income being siphoned into things that bring you a temporary thrill, when it could be better spent on a trip that will leave you with lifelong memories or experiences?
4. Travel Simply
I put this at the end of the list, but it might be the second most important way to afford travel, after saving. A wonderful, memorable, exciting, restful trip does not have to mean a blow-it-all, pull-all-the-stops extravaganza. I mean, that sounds fun, and someday I would like to experience a trip like that! Who wouldn’t? But if that is your view of what a vacation should be, you will be saving for years or going majorly into debt.
You can travel simply and cheaply, and still have the time of your life.
With some careful planning, you can find great deals on lodging, flights, museums and experiences. You can eat well without spending extravagantly at fancy restaurants. You don’t have to have suitcases full of brand new clothes to still get great pictures in amazing places.
We plan out our travel budget very carefully before a trip, and stick to it as closely as we can…although we are never opposed to a good splurge here and there when it’s worth it!
(In my next post, I’ll be sharing about exactly how we budget our trips and travel simply, so stay tuned!)
I do want to say that I completely understand that sometimes your priority is feeding and clothing your children, or making rent every month. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything left after that. That’s okay. Life can bring medical bills, car accidents, natural disasters, house repairs, and any number of other unexpected expenses. Sometimes, you find yourself with four babies in diapers and you budget $250 a month just for the sake of giving their little bums a place to do their business (Oh, no, just us?).
I understand if you desperately want travel to be a priority for you, but it just can’t be.
Don’t get discouraged. Keep that desire tucked away in your mind, and don’t let it go. I firmly believe that with hope and hard work, you will get there. One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 37:4-5…”Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you.”
To wrap it all up, when traveling becomes a priority for you, you make it happen. You carve out the time, you pinch the pennies, you put the effort into planning that unforgettable trip. Like any good thing in life, it takes work and often sacrifice, but the returns are absolutely worth it.
I want to hear from you! What makes traveling stressful for you? What would make it easier and more accessible? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to follow me on Instagram (@choosingdayone) so we can get to know each other!
More posts you might like:
Minimalist Packing for Traveling with Kids
How to Choose an Airbnb for Traveling with Kids
That First Breath of Ocean – Charleston, SC