Too often people set dreams for themselves only to watch the years roll by with their dreams never having been reached. You’ve dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower shimmer at night? You’ve been fantasizing about a skiing trip through the French alps? Getting lost in the twists and turns of Venice’s alleyways? Well, this is your year, my friends. 2018 is the year YOU will be making these traveling dreams a reality! One concept I believe wholeheartedly is if you have a yearning in your heart to pursue something, you will find any way possible to make that dream become real. It just takes some planning and a bit of action to get that realization to manifest. Here are some ways I am able to make my traveling a reality and how you can too this new year!

Allow your mind to dream big

Let’s just pretend money wasn’t an option for a second. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out! Take the dollar signs away from the idea of travel. Just allow let your mind drift for awhile. Create a bucket list of experiences and countries you would regret never seeing and then narrow it down to 5-10 locations. Okay, now before you go looking up flight prices or checking that city’s cost of living on Numbeo imagine that you could travel to those places and money wasn’t an issue. Because it is possible! I am total living proof to the idea that you can travel to the most expensive cities in the world and not have much money in the bank account. Allow your mind to dream big and forget about limitations.

Add some visuals!

Next, let’s add some pictures to get those dreams bigger! Pinterest is a great app and website for pinning your favorite places and experiences onto a travel dream board. You can spend a few minutes every day adding some unique experiences to your board and when you’re ready to pick a destination, review your board! I personally have a travel scrapbook that I created four years ago. I simply cut and paste travel destinations and guides from my Travel + Leisure magazine subscription into my scrapbook and write some notes, ideas, and specific areas I would want to visit when that time comes around. Because I am mailed a magazine every month, the idea of traveling to my dream destinations is always in the back of my mind and help keep those ideas and plans a priority. You are what you think about!

Start spreading the news

Tell the world about your plans! Spread the news on social media, shout it out to your nearest and dearest. There is something to be said about the added pressure of taking action and getting shit done after telling your social circle about it. You will want to make sure it happens. We all know that one person who always talks about going on a trip or making a move, but never actually does. Don’t be that person. And if you are that person, prove everyone wrong! Show them you are going to make this dream a reality this year! Anything in life really is possible, but you have to get in the right mindset and then take action. 

Create a Budget

This is where the real work comes in. Dreaming is always the first and most crucial step, but dreams don’t become real without some sort of plan or action. After getting your ideas and emotions regarding your travels in the right frame of mind, I would then create a simple budget timeline / spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel or even jot it down on some paper! Mint Notion has a great free printable budget sheet, that I love using! Write down your numbers: monthly bills, cost of living, and the amount of money you earn every month. Then add a section for your travel fund. How much money can you logistically put aside for travel every month? Some months you might be able to put aside $200, other months might be tougher. What’s important is that you are consistent with your budget and your savings. Open up a separate high-interest savings account and put a transfer on “autopay” every month for that amount to be transferred from your checking account to your travel savings account. Treat your travel fund like a bill that needs to be paid every month. That dough adds up without you even thinking about it.

Make some daily sacrifices

The part I most dread and the part you may as well. You’re going to have to make some sacrifices here and there if you plan to save for a traveling experience, so here are some practical ways to do it:

  • Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner: you can absolutely socialize at home with a nice home-cooked meal, or if it’s nice outside, plan a fun picnic! That isn’t to say you should always skip meals out, but make it a special treat instead of twice a week. Head over to Trader Joes and stock up on some affordable groceries. If your social circle doesn’t understand or vibe with your dream to spend money on travel, just go do yo’ own thang, girl.
  • Transportation: From my years spent in Southern California, I totally understand the need to buy gas to fill up the tank. It can be a necessity! But there are alternatives. I saved up a ton of money every month by taking public transportation and carpooling with friends. Currently, I save a hefty penny by riding my bike everyday. It’s possible.
  • Skip Starbucks: those $4 cappuccinos add up. Make your coffee at home, buy a reusable travel cup, and take it on the go. Or be a weirdo like me and don’t drink coffee. 
  • Memberships: do you need to exercise at that expensive gym? Is it necessary to spend a portion of your salary on weekly yoga classes? Are there alternatives? Like the beach….or, you know, outdoors…? There are tons of free yoga audio classes and podcasts I listen to, and quite a few donation-based yoga studios in certain parts of the U.S.
  • Pre-plan: pack lunches to work. This is a must-do if you want to save a good chunk of money every week. I buy all my delicious groceries at Trader Joes and Sunday evenings are dedicated to cooking and pre-packing my meals in tupperware containers for the week. I can’t tell you enough how important this is for your bank account. Pre-planning is the answer, friends.

Experiences OR Things

If you’re rolling in dough right now, then you probably don’t need to follow this tip (and if you are, in fact, earning a ton and can afford to go jet off on an adventure tomorrow, what are you doing reading this post? Go read a different one!) but if you’re ready to start seeing the world, you’re most likely going to have to decide between experiences and things. Now, every individual has different priorities and values about where they want to invest their money.  For me, I’d rather spend my money on experiences (traveling, weekend getaways in the country, a nice meal out) over things (cars, clothes, fancy electronics, etc). Remember that those material items you want (the latest Iphone, new camera gear, that new winter J Crew coat (“but I need that coat!”…no, girl, you have a great coat at home already) will never surmount to the joy and fulfillment that a life experience can bring you. It’s been scientifically proven that spending money on experiences bring more joy over purchasing material items. When I look back on my life so far, the happiest and most fulfilling moments I’ve experienced were on my travels. Without a doubt.


Be Honest with Yourself

So, you’ve saved your funds, and you’re ready to start looking at the price tags on flights, yay! You overcame the most challenging obstacle! But keep this thought in mind, travel can often cost more than you think. Emergencies can come up, situations may often arise like where you will need to splurge on a hotel when you’re Airbnb room seemed sketchy (its happened to me). These things happen. Plan on having a little bit more than you will need just in case.

Also, once you’ve accumulated your funds, determine where you think you will best thrive with your money. If you weren’t able to save as much as you wanted to, plan on looking into some areas of the world that are cheaper but still equally amazing. (Places like South East Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, India, China.) Your money will go far in places where the currency isn’t as strong as your home country.

Time to Book it!

Alright, you’ve saved your funds, you’ve planned, you’ve told the world about it and you may have even found a fellow travel companion to come with you! Now, it’s time to do the deed. Go hop on over to the internet and secure that seat! This is your year, friends – you’ve got this. And when you buy that trip, shoot me a message and I’ll send you a congratulatory cyber-hug. You did it! 🙂

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How to Stop Procrastinating and FINALLY Make Your Traveling Dreams A Reality This Year

December 11, 2017


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.