We’ve all said it before: I’d love to travel someday, but… Usually we follow with apprehensions surrounding money, work, or kids. But as long as these excuses keep coming up, travel will continually get pushed into the eternal ‘someday’ instead of ever arriving in the now.
How do you stop wishing that you could travel someday, and start actually traveling? There’s one–and only one–secret that travelers know, and ‘someday’ travelers don’t: travelers travel. That’s it. Those who go, simply go. Those who don’t go, simply wish. And the wishers remain wishers as long as they never take this first step:
Step One: Buy a Plane Ticket
No joke. Spend your next paycheck on it. So you’ll eat some ramen and PBJs to make up for it. So what? Don’t have a plan? You’ll make one. The ‘I don’t have money’ excuse is the number one killer of travel plans. And usually it’s simply not true! The reality is, this excuse translates to ‘I don’t prioritize travel’ and sometimes ‘I drink my paycheck or go shopping instead.’
But here’s the secret of going from an armchair traveler to a world traveler: if you buy the tickets now, everything else will fall into place. Because it will have to. In order to really go instead of just talking about going, you need to be properly motivated.
Buying plane tickets is easy. And when you know your plane to Prague is leaving in three weeks, you will be motivated. You’ll be financially committed, and you’ll have a deadline. You’ll make a plan, you’ll make it work, and you’ll thank yourself later.
If you don’t have a passport yet or you don’t want to take extra time off work, don’t go to Morocco or Madagascar this time around. Take a long weekend in Santa Fe, or tour Yosemite, or go see New York City finally. Don’t make a big thing out of it.
Building it up in your mind can make a simple trip feel like an overwhelming mess, and you’ll never get off the ground. Buy a ticket to someplace within reach that you’d like to see. You don’t have to fulfill all your lifelong dreams at once
But if you’ve got a week or more, steel your courage and fly someplace overseas. If you book a couple of months out, you’ll have time to get a passport. Wikitravel is your best friend. It has all the important travel information for your destination country and city, including how to get a visa, major sights to see, and safety considerations.
But Hotels and Things
Now that you’re going (and once your flight is booked, you are going!), you’d better have a place to stay when you arrive. Easy! TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding accommodation that fits your budget and aesthetic. You can book most places online and pay when you arrive. If you’re solo, you can stay in hostel dorms for cheap, or if you’re really budget savvy you can Couchsurf, Workaway, or WWOOF.
Now that your accommodation is booked, you’re really motivated! Do you feel the butterflies yet? Savor it, dear traveler–anticipation is one of the best parts of travel! At this point, one of the most exciting things happens: your travel plans start to become a reality. You start telling friends, family, and coworkers about your trip. You start planning other events around it. It starts to come into focus as solid and real.
But What About Insurance and Vaccinations?
Getting travel insurance is easy, and optional. As with all things, don’t let this bog you down or keep you from going. Travel insurance is generally inexpensive. A decent policy covers accidents, theft, and sometimes even missed flights. Read your policy carefully so you know in advance exactly what to do if you need to file a claim.
The most important thing you’re buying with travel insurance is peace of mind. If you want some extra assurance, get your most important medical documents translated and carry them in a manila envelope in the back of your backpack or luggage.
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Research what vaccinations are required to enter your destination country or countries. Usually, if you’re traveling from a developed country like the United States, your destination country will require few or no vaccinations for entry. For safety abroad, do a little research about where you’re going and any vaccinations you might want before visiting. Consult a doctor. But please don’t go overboard with fear. Unless you’re planning on sleeping naked in the jungle the whole trip, there’s usually very little reason for concern.
How to Pack Though
Whatever size your luggage is, you will fill it. So get small bags. In most cases you can fit everything you need into a standard carry-on suitcase and a small backpack. Or if you’re hoofing it, just a 40-60 liter backpack should do the trick. Remember: if you’re staying for more than 5-7 days, you’ll be doing laundry anyway. So never pack clothes for more than 5-7 days.
Plan to take nothing but clothes, basic toiletries, and necessary travel documents. Anything more, and you’re probably burdening yourself with things you won’t use or need.
But I Have Kids
All the better! Take them! They’ll love it. Even babies love to travel, and there are diapers for sale everywhere. Bonus: if they’re under two they usually fly free!
You can also consider taking a cross-country train ride. AmTrak tickets usually cost about the same as flying, and trains are great for family travel. You can get up and move around more freely, it’s very scenic, and the trip is far more relaxed. The journey becomes the destination.
On the other hand, kids of all ages, including babies, love having their minds blown by foreign places. You’ll get a lot of joy out of watching them discover. So don’t be shy about taking them abroad.
Travel is one of the most memorable and bonding things you can do as a family. Let the kids help pick the destination and plan the sightseeing adventures!
No More Excuses–Time to Fly!
You’ve double checked your itinerary, you’ve got your hotel confirmation, and you’re probably looking ridiculous in that sun hat and fanny pack that will feel superfluous when you arrive.
But the good news is that you’re going! The second you step on that plane, you have succeeded. Most people think about travel as something they’d love to do someday, but here you are–doing it!
So make it your next step to tab over and look up some plane tickets. Odds are, travel is well more within reach than you’d thought. And remember, the only difference between people who go and people who don’t is the people who go, go!