Do you want to travel more? Not sure how to make it financially feasible? My book Affording Travel is the solution. Available on my author website here (this website) as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more, this book shares my best savings strategies for affording travel and how you can set money aside to make it part of your lifestyle, even if you don’t have a lot of money right now. While you can read a free chapter of Affording Travel, alternatively, press play and listen to the podcast version.
Preface of Affording Travel
Saving Strategies For Financially Savvy Travelers
After five years of writing about travel and money on my affordable travel and finance blog, The Thought Card, I wrote this book to encourage more people to explore the world by saving for it regularly. While I enjoy sharing creative ways to travel hack and find cheap flights on my platform, these optimization strategies work best if you already have money in the bank. But how do you save said money? I’m happy you asked.
While you can find hundreds of articles catering to financially savvy travelers on my website and can listen to inspiring stories of people finding creative ways to earn and build wealth on my podcast, I have never before detailed step by step how I save for travel. Previously when I have written about affording travel I only mentioned one or two steps for the sake of time, but here I detail the strategies I use from start to finish. This is the book I wish I had years ago when I felt like travel was financially out of reach for me, especially during college and graduate school. And these are the exact savings strategies I hope to teach my kids one day.
Recently I was at a conference and a listener of my show came up to me, sharing that one of my podcast episodes encouraged her to start saving for travel. After setting the intention and starting small, she told me that she is going on a week-long vacation to Hawaii this fall. She now plans to travel at least once a year. It is attainable for her. I want the same for you.
Check out my affordable travel and personal finance podcast, The Thought Card Podcast. Subscribe for free on your favorite podcast player.
Another friend of mine took my advice and started a travel fund. She is now finding more of a balance between running her side hustle and regularly taking time off to fill her cup. These are just two examples of people who have shared with me how my saving strategies have helped them rethink affording travel.
This book is about taking control of your finances and using them to follow your passion. It is my hope that after reading, you’ll feel inspired and empowered to take action and get new ideas on how you can make travel a financial priority in your life.
In this book I do not share how to save for a specific trip, but instead how to save for many trips thus fueling a travel abundant lifestyle. While everyone’s financial situation is different, give this framework a try and take it one step further by making it your own. I’m here to support, guide and coach you through the process.
A special thank you to my mom, who laid the foundation for me to be the financially savvy traveler I am today. Your knack for financial planning and creativity inspires everything I do. Kyle, my love, your unwavering support of all my ideas, including writing this book, means so much. I love you endlessly. Lastly, thank you to Stephanie Perry, Faniesha Alexander, Melody Johnson, Tiffany Grant, and Acquania Escarne for sharing how they afford to travel.
At the age of 29, I have traveled to 27 countries and 4 continents, not by chance, but because I have been intentional with my money. Money impacts nearly everything we do, including our ability to travel. Like two sides of a coin, it can help or hinder.
I first made the connection between travel and money at a young age. I was in elementary school and my neighbors had just gotten back from Walt Disney World. Stephanie twirled around in her new sparkling yellow princess gown and Anthony couldn’t stop talking about all the fun roller coasters they went on.
Looking through their photo album, they met dozens of Disney characters. They even took a photo with my favorite princess, Pocahontas. My eyes got bigger by the minute and I was sold on the idea of going to Disney World. I ran home that evening begging my mom to go, the sooner the better.
Although my mom never promised to make it happen, with a warm smile and a big hug, she told me that she would do her best. She reminded me that my education was a top financial priority for us, and she encouraged me to look forward to spending next summer in Haiti with my grandparents. Despite never shooting down my dreams, eventually enough time had passed when I began to read between the lines. My private school education, the weekly dance classes and swimming lessons I enjoyed, and even summers in Haiti were financially more important than spending a week at Disney. As Paula Pant of Afford Anything Podcast so ingeniously says: “You can afford anything…but not everything.”
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Travel has always played a big role in my life. From the age of three until I was a sophomore in high school I spent every summer visiting my grandparents in Haiti, a country in the Caribbean. In our hometown of Jacmel I retraced my family’s roots. This is where I learned how to speak Haitian Creole fluently, raised farm animals, grew fruit and vegetables, and the backyard is where I got thrown off a donkey (my grandpa never lets me forget it).
I credit my love for different cultures, adventure, languages, food, and history to my early introduction to travel and living abroad for four months out of the year. Yet as I got older, I stopped appreciating travel. By the time I was a junior in high school, it became uncool. I stopped seeing travel as an opportunity to explore and saw it more as a burden. Not only was I tired of going to the same place every year, but being away all summer meant that I couldn’t hang out with my friends. Besides, I’d much rather make money with a part-time job at the movie theaters. Ugh, what was I thinking? Over a decade later, I would do anything to spend an entire summer in Haiti relaxing with my grandparents exploring the countryside, tasting the cuisine and sightseeing.
Wondering how committed I was to not traveling as a teenager? During high school, I had the chance to go to Disney with my graduating class, the same theme park I had begged my mom to take me years prior. But because my friends couldn’t afford it, I decided to skip it too. My mom even offered to pay for the entire trip, I still can’t believe I said no. In retrospect, I can admit that I missed out big time on this opportunity and I was too attached to my friends to even consider it.
Fast forward to college when my friends were planning spring break trips to tropical destinations like San Juan (Puerto Rico), Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), and Cancun (Mexico). I could not afford it. As a college student residing in New York City with limited funds, I made enough with a part-time job to live, but not enough to plan an international trip. FOMO (fear of missing out) started to set in.
Out of all these experiences, what really stuck with me was when I wanted to study abroad in college but I thought I couldn’t afford it. More on that later.
Long before Disney, Paris was at the top of my travel wish list. The shimmering Eiffel Tower at night and the views from the top were etched in my mind from photographs and a long list of movies I enjoyed. Studying abroad would have been the perfect opportunity because not only would I earn college credit but I’d also learn French. Haitian Creole only gets you so far with French speakers and my pronunciation needed work.
My excitement quickly faded when I realized that my financial aid package would not cover a semester abroad and it would delay me graduating on time with my class. If I wanted to go to France, I’d have to either take out more student loans (something I was unwilling to do) or pay for the summer program out of pocket.
When I mentioned this to my mom, she generously offered to pay for the program, but this was during the Great Recession. She was struggling to make ends meet and we were about to lose our home to foreclosure. Even though my mom wholeheartedly encouraged me to go to Paris that summer, I felt guilty asking her to fund such an extravagant trip, especially when we were behind on our mortgage payments. I now know that I had a lot more options available to me to fund this trip. I could have applied for scholarships or crowdfunded my trip by asking friends and family to contribute. I could have even reached out to my guidance counselor to see what other study abroad programs were available for students in my major. But instead, I let it go because I thought I couldn’t afford it. Without putting in the effort, I prematurely limited my potential by not exhausting all available resources.
Although I painfully tabled my dream to visit Paris, I promised myself that as soon as I graduated from college and got a “big girl job,” I would squirrel away enough money to plan an epic trip. In May 2014, after a year of saving, I boarded a plane headed to Paris. I have been traveling ever since. In retrospect, this was my “Come to Jesus” moment. This is where I realized that I enjoy traveling and I can save up for the experiences I want in life. It may take some time, I may need to be creative, but I can do it. Money doesn’t have to hold me back from pursuing my dreams. In summary, all of these experiences have shaped the financially savvy traveler I am today. I know what it’s like to want to travel the world but think you lack the resources and finances to do so. I also know what it’s like to take the ability to travel for granted – to squander the opportunity and not appreciate it. I have come full circle.