Saturday, June 15, 2013

Get Started Traveling

A number of people have said to me that they admire my ability to travel the way and as much as I do.  When I tell them that I am not doing anything they themselves can not do, I'm usually met with the blank stare or a flat out "na, I can't" but when asked "why not", the blank stare appears.

After a lengthy conversation with a co-worker this week about how to get started traveling and a recent post in a Facebook group from someone who is admiring others travel from afar, I decided to give some practical, step-by-step instructions on just how to get started traveling.

It's easy to tell someone "just get out there and GO" but to a person who might not be as spontaneous and adventurous as I am, this statement might very well induce a panic attack!  So let's take it slow and do some pre-travel work.

Now unless you just got it like that, your first step should be to open a Travel Savings Account.  I do not recommend anyone finance their travels completely using credit.  Now there are creative ways to use your credit cards and finance your travels, such as paying your monthly bills with an airline card in order to rack up miles to purchase a plane ticket, etc.  But other than that, try and pay for your travels using cash.  Or, put your escape on lay away.  There are a few sites, such as Book It that offer payment plans.  This way your travels aren't haunted by the bill that will show up in your mail box next month.

I use ING (now Capital One) for my travel account because they do not have a local branch where I live, reducing my urge to use an ATM for withdrawals.  I have a direct deposit going into that account so every time I get paid, my travel dreams get paid.  This account is used for travel, and only travel.  This also helps me stay within my budget.  I talked more about this in my blog "How I Afford to Travel".


Next, start a list of possible destinations.  Can't think of any places you would like to visit?  Grab some travel magazines (Conde Nast Traveler is my favorite), surf the internet, ask friends/family/coworkers about their favorite destinations.  Also, create a travel vision board and post it in a place where you will see it daily.  I have my board posted in my closet so I can see it a few times per day.  If you are a social media junkie, create a digital board using Pinterest.  If you have children and a spouse that will be traveling with you, have them get involved in selecting destinations and posting pictures.

Got your destinations ready?  Start your research.  I typically google "things to do in XXX" or "best time to travel to XXX".  Usually the Tourism Bureau for that destination will be the first link and there is not a better place to start.  You will also find blogs from people who live in that destination and expert guides.  I read anything and everything I can find about my destination.  I clip photos of things I want to do and place them on my board.  This helps me build my excitement and keeps me motivated to continue to save towards my goal.

Now sign up to receive email alerts from websites such as Jetsetter, Orbitz, SniqueAway, Sherman's Travel, and The Flight Deal.  This will get you advance notice of airline deals, hotel specials, etc.  Also remember to sign up directly on the airlines websites.  But remember that these deals come and go quickly.  If you see a great fare to a destination high on your list, or a great rate for a hotel where you would like to stay, you must be prepared to pull the trigger (your travel account is waiting to be used) because these deals are usually in limited quantity and may not be available for long.

You are now prepared to "just get out there and go".  But if you are still unsure of how to plan the details: What should I do while there?  How long should I stay?  How do I get to my hotel after I landed?  ETC?  Don't be afraid to use the services of a professional travel agent, such as myself.  I would be more than happy to help you plan out a vacation that will get you up and out.

So what are you still doing here?  GO ALREADY!