Prince said it and I will say it again…kind of. You don’t have to be rich to be…a traveler. I am not rich, not even close. But if I had $1 for every person that asked me how I travel so much I would be well on my way to my first million! For me it is less about the money and more about making the time to do something I love, although money is part of it of course. Flexibility was one perk of being a business owner. But you don’t have to own a business to make time or money for travel.
Let’s talk dolla dolla bills ya’ll. I think about travel as a monthly expense just like any other bill. Every month when I am paying the man (and by the man I mean Time Warner Cable & Blue Cross Blue Shield…why are internet & health insurance bills so expensive?!) I also pay myself for traveling. By including X amount each month as part of my budget I am able to save up in no time for my next adventure. Make a budget and stick to it. Pay off your car and replace your monthly car payment with your monthly vacation fund payment. Just an idea!
Cut out a few dinners, nights on the town, or a trip to the mall and you will easily save a few hundred dollars a month to put towards a trip. It also helps if you are willing to travel cheap. Usually the most expensive thing for any trip is getting there. Another “man” to pay…the airlines. BUT if you obsessively check ticket prices like me you might just find a really great deal every once in a while. I flew to the West Indies twice this summer for under $300 round trip!
I have stayed in open air huts in the rain forest, in tiny cabins on sailboats and in studio airbnb.com or vrbo.com apartments with front porch hammocks for as little as $30 a night. These places usually have cats, dogs and other animals roaming around which I love! Some had A/C, most didn’t or only in the bedrooms. Oh and hooray for mosquito nets! Mosquitos flock to me like a moth to a flame. I think its worth it to be A/C free for a few days to be able to visit some of the best places I’ve ever seen in my life. You can always bounce around and stay in a hotel a night or 2 if you want.
I never sign up for any beauty contests when I travel like this because it ain’t pretty and sometimes I don’t smell like fresh laundry. If anyone does in these conditions please share! Picture a wet rat in a bikini with tangled Rasta hair and that is how I mostly look on trips. Pack conditioner, lots of conditioner people! But the locals, the scenery, the experiences, and the food make up for it.
Here’s a good example. This is me in Grenada trying to cool off after just taking my 3rd cold shower of the day. I’m so pretty, right? Oh and don’t forget your sunscreen…the sun is hot! Your patience…things are slower and the airline might lose your bag. Just roll with it and chill. Your desire…to jump in the sea to cool off. Your love…for wind. Wind is my BFF. AAF. Where’s the fan?! Maybe next time I will pack my own personal fan like I had back in my summer camp days. So fashionable AND functional. Might as well throw in a fanny pack too! I am so tourist right now.
Roommates, let’s talk about that. Sometimes I get weird looks when I say I have 3 “roommates” in my 30′s. I think it is genius! What better way to lower your living expenses than to share them with people you can live with and not kill? I think we have all had those roommates that are crazy and messy, but if you can find someone to live in harmony with it will save you lots of cash every month. Pretend you live in San Fran or NYC, I’ve heard people live by roommates there. Besides sometimes it gets boring Alllll byyyy Myselffffff. Insert the sad rainy scene with Joey from Friends here.
Time, there’s that. Is there ever really enough time to do everything you want to do before you die? I sure hope so! I don’t really have a bucket list but I do like to make time for experiences and travel.
Traveling not only keeps me sane but I’ve made so many connections and lifelong friends along the way. I’ve found that most locals in the places I’ve visited are really friendly and open if you are to them. I played dominos with the Prime Minister of Grenada on Father’s Day. Never bet on dominos, you will lose almost always. They are pros. Also, back to that everything in moderation thing. Local rum, that stuff is cray. Small amounts, check yourself or you will wreck yourself.
Food, I love food! Don’t you? If you are traveling on a budget, food is a good place to cut costs. Sure it is nice to get dressed up and eat at a fancy oceanfront restaurant or resort every once in a while. But some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life has come from a roadside cart or a local store/rum shop. Rotis, Tacos, and beef patties…OH MY YUM! You can get enough food for 2-3 people on one plate at these places for next to nothing and it is DELICIOUS. I mean it, the flavors and the fresh ingredients are on point. #soulfood Grocery shopping and cooking meals yourself is also a huge cost saver if you have access to a kitchen or kitchenette.
A lot of resorts offer all inclusive meal and drink packages. If you are planning to sit on on the beach or by the pool at your hotel for a relaxing trip then all inclusive might be for you. If you want to get out an about or can’t sit still long enough for a resort bartender to serve you fun little umbrella drinks then I say skip the all inclusive and check out the local fare. You won’t be disappointed. Look at this deliciousness! I can almost taste the rice & peas now.
Getting a day pass to a resort is always an option too if you want to pamper yourself. Most of my trips are in the Caribbean or the U.S., I hope to work my way to Europe & Southeast Asia. Greece, Italy, Spain & Thailand are calling my name.
Depending on where you are traveling, taking the local transportation can save you big. Local “Reggae” buses are around $2 U.S. on some islands, compared to paying $30 U.S. for a cab. If you don’t know where you are going, just ask. The conductors or other riders will help you and who knows you may even get off at the wrong stop and find the coolest spot ever. The buses can be loud & crowded but I say crank up the tunes and save your cash!
You can also rent a car if you are feeling frisky, I am becoming a pro at driving on the opposite side of the road and car. Every drive is like a scene from the Hunger Games…drive & survive. It is perfectly acceptable to drive in the middle of the road anyway so you don’t hit the potholes in your lane. Or just walk, I know I need to after eating loads of chicken and macaroni pie & washing it down with a Banks beer or 5. I usually do a combo of all of these things.
So my advice is to start saving, even if it is just $50 a month, and start planning your next adventure. Research activities and places to check out before you leave. This will save tons of time and money once you get to your destination.
You don’t have to be rich to travel you just have to be ready to do it. If you have vacation time, take it. It is super cliche but you only live once and you are as young as you are ever going to be right now. Just go!
Pack light, be open to trying new things, and leave the negative vibes at home. Take a friend, take pictures and take YOUR time to travel!