10 Ways to Become a More Mindful and Financially Savvy Traveler
How does someone travel successfully in 2019? With social media occupying so much of our time, it’s easy to define a successful trip as one that pulled in all the likes. But while taking advantage of your Instagram-worthy destination isn’t a bad thing, there’s definitely more to an incredible vacation. To get the most out of your travel, you want to experience things you’ve never encountered before. You want to immerse yourself in a new culture, and visit a combination of “must-see” spots and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
You also want to be appropriately prepared in order to get the most out of your trips. Boosting your income and saving up in advance for your travels can only help. Knowing that you’re spending money you’ve saved comfortably, rather than racking up a credit card bill, can go a long way to helping you unwind and enjoy your vacation. Finally, you want to focus on being present throughout your trip—that’s probably the most straightforward answer to getting the most out of your travel. Allowing yourself to unplug, and not worry about work or money, will help you get to that point. Here are 10 ways to get more out of your travel by boosting both your funds and your awareness:
Travel slowly, and get to know the turf better as a result
“Rather than hopping on a plane or train to a new city or country every other day, spend more time in fewer places,” says Alex Reynolds, who runs the travel blog Lost With Purpose. “Don't be afraid to take four or five days to explore an area. Transportation costs add up quickly, and staying put can cut costs like you wouldn't believe.”
Use the “ATM budget” for a few months before you leave on your trip, so you can stash away some extra money
Alexandra Talty, who currently lives abroad in Beirut and writes about how to travel often in a financially responsible way, uses the “ATM budget” so she can avoid spending unnecessarily on credit cards. “Basically, I decide how much money I can spend per week and just take that out in cash. I used this tactic to save $15,000 to move to Beirut,” says Talty.
Don’t capture every minute on camera
Reynolds is a photographer, and even she doesn’t feel the need to photograph everything. “Sometimes I put the camera down and enjoy the moment while I can. Not every stunning landscape makes for an epic photo, and not every plate of food needs to be snapped for the 'gram,” says Reynolds. “When traveling, we should look at the world with our own eyes, not on a screen or through a viewfinder.”
Get comfortable with the idea of being more flexible when you’re traveling
For every type-A planner, it’s hard to let go of your daily schedule. But allowing yourself to go with the flow is part of what takes a trip to the next level. “If you have a very strict itinerary with no wiggle room, there's no chance for you to be spontaneous and take opportunities as they come,” says Reynolds. “Many of my fondest memories from my travels were unplanned; They began with my taking the time to talk to a random person on the street, or saying ‘yes’ when people invited me to join them on an outing. Don’t be afraid to scrap your plans, and you'd be amazed to see where you end up!”
Live below your means so that when you travel, you don’t have to worry about money
David Rosell is a financial planner and an author, and he’s traveled to 65 countries so far. Stretching your money so you can get the most out of your travel is his specialty. He says it’s crucial to save and invest wisely in order to travel better and more often. “Rather than always working for money, make your money work for you by living below your means and investing the difference for your future travel,” says Rosell.
Eliminate inconsequential purchases—both at home and abroad
There are so many things we buy “just because,” whether it’s grabbing something special for lunch, or picking up a souvenir you don’t need in a foreign country. In order to effectively live below your means, you need to cut those purchases from your lifestyle. You might just find that you don’t miss them. Rosell says we could all probably save about $10 a day if we took away our inconsequential purchases. Where could you travel if you saved $10 a day (which is $300 a month)?
Skip your coffee today so you can enjoy one abroad tomorrow
To motivate yourself to get rid of your inconsequential purchases, start thinking about what you stand to gain, rather than what you’re giving up. Rosell says that if you’re giving up your daily latte to save, you can ultimately “have the financial freedom to not only make a specialty coffee part of your daily life in the future, but to experience an espresso in places like Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam, or wherever your heart desires.”
Reserve a log-off week this year to increase your presence
Being present when you travel isn’t something that comes naturally when you step off the plane. It’s a skill you have to cultivate in your daily life, and then you can use it to your advantage even more so when traveling. “One thing I try to do every year is take at least two weeks with a total break from the Internet and my phone,” says Talty. “This means no communications whatsoever. Whenever I do this, I am more engaged with wherever I am visiting and also have more energy for my creative projects.”
Travel somewhere that will open your eyes and increase your awareness
Don’t spend your time in a destination behind the walls of a resort. Go see how the residents are living, and learn about the local culture. Rosell took his children to Cuba and says they fell in love with it, but also gained a new appreciation for their life at home. Their focus shifted from “vacation mode” to what they were grateful for, which was amazing to witness as a parent, Rosell says.
Make your own travel luck
Rosell says experiencing good travel is all about “putting ourselves into positions where we can be lucky. Luck has less to do with what happens to you and more to do with how you think and act.” How will you put yourself into travel situations where you’d consider yourself “lucky”? That’s where saving before you leave and traveling slowly come into play. Set yourself up so that you can truly relish the trips you’ve planned