2017 has arrived. You’ve analyzed last year, thought about next year and set your New Years resolution. For you, this year will be all about traveling. Getting out there and focusing on the wide open world. A world you haven’t had time to appreciate before now.
For the first time, travel and life experiences will be your primary focus. You’ve decided there is so much more to see. And in 2017 you CAN and you WILL explore it!
How do you adjust your lifestyle to achieve what can seem like the impossible? How do you make this broad goal of traveling more attainable and realistic? Surprisingly, with determination and focus, it’s not that hard.
How to Conquer your New Years Resolution to Travel
Check in with your priorities.
Before you even start following through and making moves, check in with your priorities.
Is this what you really want? More importantly, are you willing to sacrifice other comforts and conveniences for the purpose of travel?
Sacrifices are required and you have to be ready to make them. Giving up ‘in the moment’ pleasures and conveniences for the bigger picture is vital to your success. It could be something as simple as skipping your AM coffee or lunch out of the office or something as major as selling a car.
These choices will come up frequently as you prepare for your great adventures of 2017. The right choice should always be obvious, made with your New Years resolution as the focus.
Remember, nothing worth having is easily achieved.
Now is the time to adjust your daily routine and commit fully to travel. You have to be mentally ready for this undertaking and completely devoted, or it simply will not happen. At least not in the way you’d want it to…
Understand your flaws.
Do you make excuses every time you swipe that credit card? Do you neglect to analyze ALL your daily transactions? Can you be too generous with friends and family? Easily distracted? Living in the moment, just a little too much?
Before you commit to investing money in traveling during 2017, you’ve gotta understand where you might lose track of the end goal. If you’re aware, you’ll start to recognize patterns and it will be easier to monitor and control your actions. If you don’t recognize and adjust these patterns, you won’t move forward.
Keeping notes or writing in a journal at the end of each day will definitely help. Talking with friends and family for feedback, seeing if they notice any habits of yours that can change. Or simply being honest with yourself.
And remember, a credit card-free lifestyle is best. Relying on a credit card for spending is a flaw that most of us have. Pay off any mistakes you’ve made in the past and start fresh. Changing that is important before your trip, after your trip, AND during your trip.
Most of the time, when your New Years Resolution is set, you are the only person that can get in the way. Being aware of your flaws and fighting each and every one of them to achieve your end goal is what will make your travel dreams come true.
Adjust your lifestyle.
Now that you’ve decided you CAN make the sacrifices required and now that you understand situations where you might slip up, it’s time to make some changes. Saying it is one thing, but actively monitoring every dollar or turning down that invitation to dinner is another.
When we decided to move to Austria, we had 2 cars. Both of us drove to work because it was more convenient and comfortable. Well, one of the cars was the very first thing to go (about 6 months before our scheduled departure).
By selling a car, I had to wake up earlier, use the bus and walk about 3 miles every day. And while at times I grew frustrated, after a while I realized that sacrificing the comfort of my commute was NOTHING compared to moving abroad and traveling Europe. Those are the major lifestyle changes that will make a difference.
With that one move, we got back over $400 every single month to invest in our future abroad.
Looking for 1 or 2 major opportunities to save is helpful to start the off year strong. Little expenses and savings are also VERY important and add up in the end. But seeing one large sum of money in your travel fund will set the right tone for the year and keep you motivated.
When you see the results of your sacrifices and the bright future made possible from these sacrifices, adjusting now to invest in the future you want is an easy transition. But you have to actually follow through in order to feel that instant motivation and determination.
Surround yourself with inspiration.
Everywhere! On the fridge, your corkboard at home, your office calendar. Watch only travel shows or shows like House Hunters International. Stop surfing Facebook for hours or shopping online, instead research destinations. Follow any and every travel site or travel blog that inspires you on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter.
Even take an hour every day to connect with other people who’ve done something similar. Hearing what the grass is really like on the other side will make you unstoppable. You’ll be so devoted to your New Years Resolution because you’ll see directly from other travelers what travel can do for you.
And don’t forget to talk about your travel goals. Literally ALL the time. The more you talk about it, the more excited and confident you’ll feel with your decision. And confidence creates an ability to follow through with dedication and conviction.
Inspiration can be found in the simplest places, so always be looking for more and more things that will keep you focused and inspired.
Set measurable goals and a budget.
If your New Years resolution isn’t specific and track-able, it will never come to fruition. Don’t just set a general goal of ‘traveling more’, come up with a plan and timeline that’s achievable. Something you can easily keep track of.
Setting a budget is a perfect step to start with. Using your monthly income, create a spreadsheet outlining every single expense, including the expense of saving X amount of dollars for your travel each month. Include a budget for expenses that fluctuate like groceries, nights out or gas and stick to it. And always overestimate.
Monitor your spending in a daily log, check in with your progress weekly and make sure you haven’t strayed from your goal. It will help you continue with that same motivation and enthusiasm you started the year with.
A huge help in this process is Mint.com, a site and app that connects directly to your bank account and credit cards, doing the hard part for you. Through the site, you can set budgets for every aspect of your spending. You can even set specific goals and dates. The site will track your progress and let you know if it’s possible.
For more tips on saving for travel or a move abroad, check out our post – 6 Vital Steps to Save for a Move Abroad
But how do you know how much to save? Well, to understand what an accurate travel budget looks like, all you need to do is a little bit of research. Apps like Hopper, which help you estimate flight costs or Skyscanner, which directs you to the cheapest flight available will also help.
But even something as simple as reading through travel blogs or travel sites to research costs can provide you with enough information to create an accurate travel budget. Expat sites also help, if you’re looking to move abroad.
And of course, your budget depends on what trip you want. Whether it’s an indefinite move or a quick week in France. Whether you want to do it on a budget or are looking for a more luxurious getaway. The information is out there.
If you set an unrealistic goal that can never be achieved without a miracle, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Saying ‘F it’ I’m gonna quit my job tomorrow and buy a one-way plane ticket is GREAT but the chances of you being successful unlikely. Don’t you want to be successful?
If you approach the situation with reason and thought, you can create a plan that actually can work and be more long-term. Come up with a budget that can easily be achieved every month. Save and book your trip when you know you’re on track. If you’re not realistic with your goals, then you’ll get down on yourself and may just fall back into your old ways.
Keep your eye on the prize.
Don’t get distracted! Keep the momentum going, no matter what else comes your way. We’ve said this before when we talked about saving for our move to Austria: ‘Would you rather’ is a great method to stay on track.
Use this thought process throughout your day with every decision you make that involves spending money AND time. Would you rather splurge on a fancy feast out, just because, or would you rather suck it up, and put that money away for your flight? Would you rather drop $100 shopping for things you don’t need or save that money for an excursion on your trip to Europe? Wine and cheese night out with friends? Or an ENDLESS supply of Gouda cheese straight from Gouda?!
BIG PICTURE, people. And every dollar literally counts.
When you make a decision to NOT spend that money, reward yourself. Put the money you would have spent (if you made the wrong decision) away into a separate bank account. When you see this account growing, your eye will surely stay on the prize.
Hold yourself accountable.
As I said, the only person that can get in the way of your New Years Resolution OR keep you on track is YOU. Be your toughest critic. Analyze your progress and if something’s just not working – change it. There’s no boss hovering over your shoulder checking in, so be that boss. Micromanage yourself.
A great way to hold yourself accountable is to write down every dollar you spend. For some reason, when you write things down, it’s a lot more effective than seeing it in a credit card statement or not seeing it at all.
When you start to stray, get yourself back on track. Look up dream destinations and refocus on what really matters.
And the result?
By following all of the above tips, you’ll know how true you’re staying to your end goal, so this step should be the easiest one.
We’re living proof that adjusting your life to focus on travel is possible. In just 8 months, we sold our things, moved out of our apartment, applied for and obtained a Visa D (for long term travel), and hopped on a flight to Austria. All with enough money to live there and travel throughout Europe. And we haven’t looked back since.
Making sacrifices to achieve this ambitious goal was hard. We worked full days at work, came home and prepared for our move abroad till 2am every single night. Woke up the next morning and did it all over again.
Our weekends were spent not out and about, like usual, but at home, saving money, organizing our lives, researching, planning.
And we made it happen by taking the steps necessary to follow through with our New Years Resolution (slash life resolution) to live in another country.
We kept our eye on the prize, changed our lifestyle completely. And here we are, living our New Years Resolution and our wildest dream.