When asked what inhibits individuals from their travel ambitions, the answer almost always boils down to time – or more frequently – money.
But the truth is, it’s not about time or money. It’s about priorities. If travel is not a priority for you, you will always find some other things to spend money on and you’ll never have “enough” money to travel.
Here are a few budget and lifestyle friendly ways to make your travel dreams a reality:
Change for Travel Savings Account. Many banks offer checking accounts that “roll over” your change into a savings account. So if you spend $5.37 on your morning coffee and bagel, your bank will take out $6 from your checking account and put the remaining change into your savings account. Doesn’t sound like much, but you would be surprised on how quickly it adds up.
Skip the Coffee Run. The average person spends over $5 every time they swing though the Starbucks drive through. Make your own coffee at home – even splurging for the good creamer, you will save over $20 a month.
The Gift of Money. Next time your Nana asks what you want for Christmas or your birthday, let her know you are saving for a trip. Visa gift cards are a great way too.
The Cheap Challenge. Break your monthly budget down into weeks and challenge yourself to be the biggest cheapskate possible one week of the month. Save wherever you can. Cook at home, use public transportation, host a board game tournament for your weekend entertainment. Whatever money from the budget not spent during the week goes in the travel fund. Bonus: get your family/friends in on the action with a creative cashless wager – like loser cleans the winner’s gutters.
Travel Smarter. Use a travel agent. Most agents are able to meet (and often beat) any deals you might find shopping online. They are experts in finding the best deals for all your travel needs – from flights, to rentals, accommodation and even excursions.
PaymentPlans. Many agencies have payment plans for cruise or resort destinations. This allows you to book early to get the best value and make monthly/quarterly payments that won’t break the bank.
OddJobs. Next time you hear of someone looking for a weekend sitter (pet/house/kid) volunteer. You can make some great money.
DonatePlasma. Did you know you can get paid to donate plasma? The process is similar to donating blood – just longer. Be sure to consult with your doctor first, but depending on your city, you can be paid up to $40 per donation. While it takes a few hours to complete the process, you get to enjoy a movie, snack and help other people. Win-Win-Win.
Clear the Clutter. It’s time to finally have that garage sale and get rid of all those treasures that have been cluttering your closet. You can make great money selling unneeded furniture, clothing, jewelry, tools etc. Check out places like Ebay, Craigslist, OfferUp or ThreadUP.
Shop Smarter. Don’t wander the grocery aisles. Plan out meals and make a list of the items you need. Group your items similar to how you find them in the grocery aisles. Get only what is on your list. Frequent one or two stores and take advantage of their coupon and shopper programs.
One of the most stressful parts of travel is trying to pack a bag for all the contingencies of weather and activities in a TSA approved bag for a trip. For many, the instinct is to go through a daily itinerary and pack for each day. However to save space (and sanity) try packing creating a capsule wardrobe.
This minimalist style of dressing is perfect for travel as it consists of a few essential items of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create multiple looks. Here’s how it works:
Step1: Consider your destination, season of travel and planned activities. Write down any special events that will require specific dress needs (i.e. a bridesmaid dress for the wedding or a bathing suit for a day at the beach etc).
Step 2: Create a base color pallet. Instead of packing for a variety of looks and coordinating colors, pick your base neutrals first – grey and black, blue and white, brown and tan etc.
Step 3: Choose your shoes. You won’t enjoy any part of your trip if you feet hurt. Pack no more than 3 sets of shoes (-1 casual, 1 specialty, 1 comfy) for more than a week long trip and no more than two pairs for a weekender trip up to a week. Pick shoes that match the base color pallet. Don’t pack a shoe that will only match one outfit (unless it is event specific, like bride-required shoes to match the bridesmaid dress).
Casual shoe – day runners, ballet flats or loafers
Step 4: The outfits. The name of the game is to create ensembles that can be mixed or matched for different looks befitting a variety of activities and weather. Remember: if you can’t make at least 2 outfits with any particular item, it doesn’t get packed. Depending on the length of your trip, a good rule of thumb is to pack the following:
Spring/Summer – 3 Shorts/capris, 1 pant, 1 skirt or dress
Many parents fear travelling and toddlers is simply a recipe for disaster. However, with a little forethought and a few tricks it very well may be your favorite memory from your next trip. Below are 16 toddler-tested, parent-proven and TSA-approved tips for surviving airline travel:
Use a Travel Agent. Being the deal detective that I am, I hate paying any more than absolutely necessary. Travel agencies often are able to match any deal you might find online but they can often get you extra perks and amenities for your flight.
Connections – Where possible, I always try to book direct flights without layovers or connecting flights. When you live near a larger city or airline hub, it’s typically a pretty feasible option. If you do need to book a flight with one or more connections, pay particular attention to the timing between the flights. While it is possible grab junior and make a mad dash to the next gate, you’re setting up your dear little one for a miserable next leg. Instead, plan a connection that allows time to explore, go to the bathroom, grab a bite etc. Remember: the more energy your child can burn before getting on the plane, the more content they will be to sleep or do quiet activities in the air.
Pack Light or Check the Bags. Toddlers, unlike infants are curious andMOBILE. Don’t bog yourself down with luggage. Use a backpack to keep your hands free to roam the airport with your toddler.
Scrutinize the Stroller & Consider a Carrier – While many parents swear by their stroller, I find it more hassle than helpful. Instead, opt for your favorite carrier. Not only is it easier to get through security (you can wear your kiddo and not have to go through the scanners) but you stay hands free during down time and can still carry your child when he/she gets tired.
The Kid Pack.One of the best things I have ever picked up for my toddler is a mini backpack. Not only does she feel like a “big kid” and demands to wear it EVERYWHERE, it’s the perfect size to carry a snack, drink and a few small toys. Added perk, it also has a removable tether attachment. More times than not, I don’t use it, but have found it handy when travelling alone or in particularly busy airports.
Pretend Plane-time. A week or so before you travel, “practice” with your toddler. Set up a “ticket counter,” “security checkpoint,” and plane area around the house and walk them through what will happen at the airport. It will help them know what to expect for the actual event and they will LOVE choosing a snack from the “cart” as the steward(ess) makes rounds. Invite older siblings or friends to play for a really fun afternoon.
Mile High Diaper Club. The doll-house sized port-a-potty on the planes do have a mini changing station above the commode, but itis next to impossible to comfortably change your little one – especially a toddler. Plan time for a potty break 15 min before boarding.If you need to go in flight, take only the necessities– a diaper pad, diaper, wipes and ointment (if needed). There isn’t room for both of you and a full diaper bag. If you find nature calling you, don’t try take him/her with you – ask a stewardessesor someone traveling with you to keep the little one company. Trust me.
Watch Your End Game. Don’t forget about items you might need one you arrive to your destination. If borrowing a stroller, pack-n-play, or car seat isn’t an option, call your hotel or check out rental companies in the area. While some car rentals offer car seat rentals – they tend to be grungy, gross and expensive. Opt to borrow from a friend or rent from a reputable company when possible.
Sleeping in New Places. Many hotels and resorts often have cribs or playpens available for little ones -but be sure to request it when booking a reservation so ensure availability. You can also consider bringing one in your checked luggage or look to borrow one from friends or family. If you are worried about your angel sleeping well in a new place, plan a few “practice nights” the week before by putting them to bed in a pack-n-play in a different room for a few nights before your trip. Note – the night or two before you travel, go back to the normal routine to ensure a happy, restful baby during travel.
Bringing Snacks. Unless you are accustomed to traveling with children, you may not know that TSA makes exceptions for baby food at security. Even when the containers exceed their limit of 3.4 ounces, the TSA allows milk, formula and even snack pouches through checkpoints. If you prefer to travel with water, bring an empty Sippy cup or thermos and fill it up at a water fountain once you pass security.
AirportZone Offense. When traveling with a toddler, you have strategize for success in the security checkpoint and onboard the plane. I prefer the bag in a bag method. I put all my kid’s food and liquids in a gallon sized zip lock bag and keep it at the top of my carry on. Then it is a quick, easy grab to hand over to the screener.
Be Early – While you view airports through a lens of long lines and overpriced snacks, it is a wonderland to your two year old. It can be a fun place to explore, watch planes, and if you ask nicely, you can often get a free ride on the courtesy carts.
SafetyFirst – Stay off your phone and pay attention. While it might be tempting to use airport time to coordinate with family or confirm a reservation, an airport is the LAST place you want your toddler wandering off.
TravelGuiltFree.Don’t use up precious carryon space for pinterest-worthy treatsfor surrounding passengers. While every parent as some point has gotten the “death glare” for bring a child on board, it is not your responsibility to make sure they have a great flight. Control what you can control – your toddler (sometimes). If you have snacks and activities planned for the flight, most passengers will be understanding and will enjoy interacting with your little one. If things do go awry, your fellow flyers just want to see you trying your best to take care of the situation. For those that choose to get snooty – well, they could have booked First Class.
BoardFirst.Take advantage of the call for “persons needing assistants and those traveling with children” and get on the plane first. It allows you precious moments of no aisle traffic to get settled and pull out your flight necessities (diaper, wipes, snacks, activities). It also gives you time for a final potty break before takeoff and a chance to point out interesting things like the cockpit. And, if you ask nicely, some stewardesses will give your little a “mini tour” while you get things settled.