Motivating yourself to travel can be difficult for a number of reasons. You may be comfortable in your routine, worried about spending in a down economy, or just keep putting it off indefinitely so you never feel you've actually given up. The root of the problems though are all point to one source - you.
Externalizing your problems is the quick road to traveling nowhere fast but you can easily get out the door in 3 months to where you want and within your budget. There are always circumstances beyond control but here's how you can navigate around each one.
1. Pick A Place
Start the first step with the easiest and most fun part of travel planning - picking where you want to go. Forget about budget, time off from work, and the other aspects of planning for the moment. Where have you always wanted to go or the last place on TV that made you say "wow"?
2. How Long You Will Be Gone
Depending on your job and other obligations your travel time will obviously vary. Determine realistically how much time off can you take in 3-6 months from the present and how long travel time (plane ride, car trip, etc.) will take out of the actual destination. Even if your trip to your dream destination is a short one, take it. Procrastination will try to creep in along ever step on the way.
3. How Much You Want To Spend
I don't like to ask "how much will my next trip cost" because much of it is really a question of "how can I make this fit into my given budget"?
- Flights can be made cheaper by using a travel agent and booking something with long layovers. They're a pain but you can make them in to a mini-trip along the way. 8 hours in New York, Hong Kong, or Istanbul? That's a few hours to explore another city.
- Leave your comfort zone. Consider staying in a hostel to experience the community atmosphere or couch surf (CouchSurfing) for a better taste of the local culture. Both are much cheaper (or free) compared to a hotel and usually worth the adventure.
- Cut some debt. I'm not suggesting you sell your house but consider cutting out smaller monthly payments you may have. Television cable (watch online), cigarettes (quit, it's better for your health), and newspaper subscriptions (read online) quietly eat your income. To further motivate yourself take the money you'd spend on those items into a travel fund and watch it grow.
- Sell things you never use. Old books, that dumb gift you got for Christmas, or the outdated iPod you haven't touched since upgrading. Put them online and get a little bit back for them. Take that money and put it directly into your travel fund. Now you've got more money and less crap - a great combination for traveling.
4. Book The Ticket...Now
I'm willing to bet that you that - #1 you already know where you want to go, #2 you have an idea about your vacation time, and #3 you have more expenditures than you'd like to admit. Put your money where your mouth is and book your ticket now. Borrow from your savings if you have to and pay yourself back but don't lose the motivation you have to travel when it strikes.
Once you actually book your ticket you've dealt a series blow to procrastination. Saving money and earning vacation time are achievable once you make them goals. There's no secret trick or magic spell you need to learn. It's a matter of figuring out what you want to do and making the sacrifices to get there. It's ok to tell your friend you're staying in one night to save for a trip or working a few hours of overtime to get a week off in a few months.
Now stop reading and get to it. Now.
[photos by: FUNKYAH, nrivera, striatic, kernelslacker]
These are great tips for challenging the homebody in me! But I'm curious about all you out there... How do you motivate yourself to travel?