To travel is to live. ~ Hans Christian Anderson
If I won’t think of money or work, the one thing I would do is to travel. Because traveling to places makes me appreciate the beauty of the world and it makes me feel alive when I get to see different places and experience different things.
Traveling isn’t something I had the privilege to do before. I used to be the breadwinner of the family and my income was just enough to sustain our needs. And traveling was least in my financial priority. But nowadays, after realizing the benefit of traveling, I try to include it in my financial budget. Since then my goal is to travel with my family at least once a year. And for the past three years, we’ve been going to new places each year.
Traveling is a wonderful and liberating experience. I have learned many things with our travels which I want to share with you in this article.
This article is especially useful for first time traveller or who would want to start traveling.
It’s my hope to help you travel in your own way and within your financial capacity.
1. Schedule Your Travel
Most of us doesn’t have the time freedom to go on vacation anytime we want either because we have house chore, job, business or school. With such limited time, it’s best to set a schedule for your travel ahead of time. Choose a schedule at least six (6) months in advance.
In scheduling your travel, there’s two option :
1) during weekend or holiday; or
2) during weekday or regular non holiday.
If you are the type who enjoys being surrounded by many people, choose option 1. If you choose option 1, be ready with long lines, possible delayed flights and noisy/crowded travel experience.
But if you’re the type who enjoys solitude and quiet environment, choose option 2. Because there’s lesser people when you travel on weekdays and nonholidays. The benefit is lesser or no lines and delayed flights. Your preference will guide you on the right schedule to book your travel.
Once you chose and finalize your schedule time to travel, make sure to inform well meaning people of your plan. This is to ensure proper planning and transition on the days you are gone.
2. Book Airfare in Advance
Either you travel within a budget or not, it is helpful to book your airfare ticket in advance. This is to ensure your seat and to confirm your plan of traveling.
If you want a budget travel, booking your airfare in advance is much cheaper especially if you time it with the airline’s ticket sales.
But if you are not a budget traveler, the added benefit is you can choose and reserve your seat in advance for extra charge. Like if you want to be seated near the window and in front rows.
3. Book Hotel in Advance
When I travel, I also look and book a hotel right after getting an airline ticket. Although some prefer to delay it.
Depending on the travel destination, date and your accomodation preference, there are instances booking hotel in advance is needed. The best hotels may be fully booked if you book too late. Aside from that, there are discounts when book early. Booking early will give you better options to get your preference at better price.
4. Plan Your Itinerary
In our travels there were those I planned every details, from the time we leave home to go to the airport, places we will visit, where we will eat, what will be our activity, how much we will spend, the car rental and up to going back home. But there were travels I didnt plan and just go with the flow.
Again, there’s no right or wrong way to travel. It’s a matter of preference. But in my personal experience, I later on realized that it’s best to have a plan, an itinerary, so as to save time on the day of your travel. Especially if you have limited days, like less than 4 days, to travel.
In some travels that I didnt plan the travel, I spent time planning on the day of the trip instead of going around visiting places. However, if you are the type that you want spontaneous travel and you have more time, like a week or month, to travel, planning your travel can be limited to knowing which place to visit regardless of time and day.
When planning your travel, do research about the following: must visit destinations (tourist spot), restaurants or places to eat, means of transportation, the language used, currency, etc.
5. Plan the things you will and will not bring
When you travel, another important matter to plan is the list of things you need to bring in your trip. Also, keep in mind the things you must not bring.
I was poor at this in the beginning, because I used to pack so many things that I end up not using. I’m often get teased why am I bringing the whole closet. But as my travels increased, my packed things lessen. I learned to pack lighter and just bring the essentials.
The consequence of bringing too much things was that you have to pay extra fees to airlines when you exceed the baggage limit. Also it’s a hassle carrying it especially if you have to travel with your luggage when you move around in your tour. However the consequence of not packing what you need is you have to spend when you get to your destination.
In general, you must bring the following: right set of clothes depending on the weather of your travel destination, right currency of money that can used or exchange in your travel destination, credit card (just for backup), your airline ticket, your hotel voucher (if there is), your passport, you can also bring small snacks just in case you want to save a little in your trip, and to capture the moment, you must have a good camera (only if you have one) such as go pro/dslr or just a good phone camera.
On the other, in general do not bring in your hand carry luggage the following: toiletries more than the allowed, knife, bullet or gun or anything that will be suspicious and will cause the attention of the airport personnel.
6. Plan travel time to and from the airport
When traveling, consider the time you will allot and spend in traveling from your home to the airport, and the needed time to be in the airport for checking in and boarding.
In general, to be safe for possible cause of delay, be in the airport 5 hours (if international) or 3 hours (if local) before your flight time.
In my experience since I live far away from airports, I’ve experienced not being able to arrive before the check-in time. Cause that time I didn’t use check in online facilities of the airline, and I have check-in bags. The check-in counter closes us and I had to pay extra for the new flight (which costs more than the original booking), and had to stay in the airport for 8 hours to get on the next flight.
To avoid similar experience, be early on your flights. Better wait that experience the hassle.
7. Prepare a financial budget
To ensure you don’t mess up your finances, make a budget or forecast of your travel expenses. When I plan our travel budget, I first do research of the following cost: airfare ticket, airport fee and travel tax, hotel / accommodation, transportation, food, and the fee on the tourist spot. Once I have gathered financial data, I then set our travel budget based on our preferences and capacity. Personally, I included in my financial budget setting aside percentage of our monthly income to travel. So that will be my available funds for travel, if its empty I won’t travel. If it has balance, then I’ll limit my travel budget to the travel fund balance. Financial budget depends on the financial capacity and preferences. So think of your personal preference and financial capacity when preparing financial budget.
8. Bring a book or something to keep you busy when waiting at the airport
When traveling, expect that there will be waiting time, possibly because of delays or other reasons. Instead of feeling hassled and ruining your trip, prepare for waiting time by bringing a book or something you like to do when waiting. If you have a child, make sure you bring light toys to play around and extra bottle of milk or food in case they get hungry.
9. Prepare and bring the documents
Another important reminder when traveling is to bring documentations supporting your travel like valid IDs, passport and airline ticket. If your with a child not yet in school and without valid ID, bring birth certificate. If you’ve booked online for your accommodation and travel destination fee, make sure you bring documents supporting your payment/booking.
10. Relax and have fun
Last but not the least, relax and have fun. Let go of the control and perfectionism. The purpose of travel is to explore, make it a memorable one.
I hope this article has been helpful for your. Let me leave you with the following thought:
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. ~ Anonymous