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by Emma April 6, 2013 9 comments

Alright everyone. Gather round, take a seat. It’s time I sat you all down and had a chat with you about what it REALLY takes to get out there and get moving. I have touched on a few misconceptions about travel and how I personally infuse travel into my own life in a recent article. However, I am not you. You are not me. We are all unique in our lifestyles, jobs, relationships, and situations. This list is not exhaustive, I will always have more to say…

1. “I don’t know where to start.” Let your destination choose you. That’s right. You don’t need to come up with the coolest place to go, look no further than your own realm of relationships. Remember your good friend from college, who moved to a distant place with the suggestion that “anyone should come visit”? Open your eyes and your heart. I just returned from a two month stint in Costa Rica, for a dear friend’s wedding. It just so happened that I padded the wedding with two months on either side, surfing, adventuring and playing with monkeys.

2. Take charge of your financial freedom. Sign up for Mint. It’s basically your own financial advisor, without all that judgement and embarrassment of dealing with real humans. Mint compiles a comprehensive guide to your personal spending, monthly and yearly budgets, and a link to your credit cards, debit cards, phone bills, and (eh-hem) student loans. You can set up different funds for “goals”. Mine includes Thailand, Emergency health, and World Travel. The goal settings in Mint are incredibly detailed, breaking down any possible cost and putting just a tad bit of cash in them every month. Never look at your checkbook again.

3. Learn how to find cheap flights. I could write an essay on this topic alone, so I will be as concise as possible. Do NOT look for flights on the weekends, imagine the rest of the world, planning to escape… when is the most convenient time to look for those flights? That’s right. On the weekends. Flight search engines and airline companies alike raise and lower prices weekly, daily and even hourly. Start your research at odd times, search often, search diligently. Search flights like it’s the most important thing you’re doing at the moment. Oftentimes you can compare prices from SkyScanner, Kayak, Orbitz, CheapOAir, StudentAir or another search engine and find discrepancies with company airline sites like American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue. The few minutes it takes you to call a representative could save you hundreds of dollars.

4. Fly at odd times on odd days. I know this is a tough one for all of those 9-5ers out there, but if you can figure out a way to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you can save yourself some serious cash. When using certain search engines you can click a more advanced search option, usually called “flexible dates” or “search 3+/3-“… let the numbers do the talking. You’ll see a dramatic spike in prices from Thursday-Sunday.

5. Instead of fixating on your next raise or bonus, how about you start negotiating for more time off, not more money? What are you going to do with the money anyway? Buy the next new iPhone? Or would you rather buy a ticket down to the Caribbean and spend a week paddle-boarding with dolphins. I know my choice.

6. Reach outside your comfort zone. Traveling out of your little bubble of a life will be challenging. You will be frustrated. You will be tired. Unfamiliarity seems to really get under our skin… my advice? Get over it. Relax. Take a few breaths, realize that you are NOT home, you are NOT in your home country and you are NOT in control most of the time. This is shocking to most, as I’ve seen perfectly capable and stable people crumble to the ground at the first mention of a late-arriving train or flight. Chill out please. It’s all in the journey isn’t it?

7. “I don’t have time off.” See number 5. We all have time off. Perhaps you have a secret stash of days off? Or Maybe you’re a slave to your career… if you are… you shouldn’t read more of this list.

8. “If I ask for time off, I’ll get fired.” Really? Are you that invaluable or do you just assume? If you get fired at the drop of a question, then I suggest asking for time off. If you don’t hold enough value there, do you really want to work there?

9. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a weekend or weeks to spare? Get used to the idea that “travel” can happen in your state or country. I do hate the word “stay-cation” but the idea is great. Check out websites like Gidsy, where locals host their own free (or nominally priced) activities in their own states and cities. Sure, there are busts, but with a 24-hour window for sing-ups the duds get weeded out by the creators pretty quickly.

10. Do your research. Bookmark travel websites, blogs, anything that will help you with your goal. The New York Times Travel section usually highlights some wonderful websites and tools. The most valuable information lies at your fingertips. You no longer need to peruse the travel section of the bookstore or interview your worldly aunt. The internet has a wealth of information, in case you weren’t aware. The FrugalTraveler section of the Times says it best: research is the traveler’s best friend.

11. “I don’t have anyone to travel with.” So WHAT! Go it alone. You have two feet and a brain don’t you? Have we all forgotten how to interact with strangers? Traveling alone is one of the most incredible experiences you can throw yourself in to. It will be good for you, I promise. Curse me later when you’re talking to yourself in a hotel room, but I swear, good will come from it. See number 6 and this article about getting your head out of your ass. I mean.. book.

My favorite resources for budgeting, flights, and general planning have always been other travel bloggers. My bookmarks include: Matt of ExpertVagabond, David Lee of GoBackPacking, Jodi of LegalNomads and Matt of NomadicMatt. What better resources, than people who are out there, doing exactly what you are strive to do? I could list one hundred more incredible travel blogs and resources, but that’s for another time.



Did ya dig it?


Bradley Nicholson April 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This is so dope. Make sure you tell me when the Thailand dream comes true cause I want in, also check out these other resources (you probably know them but you didn’t mention them so just in case…) the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts and http://matadornetwork.com/

Emma April 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Thank you Bradley. I’ve got the book in my cart on Amazon and I’m a member of the Matador community… are you? Let’s link up and chat. Hope you’re well.

Quis April 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

#8 has sooo much truth to it

Emma April 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I’d like to think that as well. Nothing like a little truth bomb to wake you up. Thank you for the support and feedback. I’m looking forward to the chance to get more content up.

Sandy September 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

Questions Emma:
1) What do you do for work that enables you to fund such a transient lifestyle that most of us are clearly in the dark about
2) Where do you stay in between your travels? Parents? Friends? etc?
3) How long do you go away for at a time? Are you self employed?

Emma September 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hi Sandy! Thanks for reading, and asking! It occurred to me that I need to reveal more, write more, explain more… but when I answer these questions, you will see where all my writing time has gone.
1) I work and live in a heavily season-dependent location, summer months mean 70 hour work weeks and no sleep.. Spring and Fall bring slower shifts, but the same amount of work nonetheless. I manage a tasting room at a winery, waitress, bartend, and lifeguard. Take on as much as I can, and save like hell 🙂
2) I stay with my parents on occasion, but usually head back to my summer residence renting apartments month to month.
3) I go away for as long as I can manage and afford to take off 🙂

Thank you!

Sandy October 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hey Emma! Thanks for your reply and taking the time to write a new post. I have heavy debts due to living alone and both my parents are no longer alive which means I have to be horribly self-sufficient leaving me feeling trapped and sad that I cannot embark on adventures as easily as many, maybe there is a way. Have you come across anyone in my situation on your travels that has made it work? I don’t want tragedy and lost opportunities to triumph. I want to see the world. Thanks, Sandy xx

Emma October 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm

HI Sandy,
Being horribly self sufficient isn’t so horrible after all. It teaches us responsibility and grace under pressure, it makes you the leader and the king of your castle! Adventures don’t necessarily need to be expensive, they can exist five minutes from home… or five hours in the air from home! It just depends on your situation and abilities. Try to see your world with fresh eyes, how would you show someone around your home town or your current town? What things would YOU suggest to them to do on a sunny day? What are the things people do on vacation near you… by trying to create a vacation-type of mind, you can reimagine your own situation. Seeing the world will come, sometimes it takes years of saving and living frugally (think NO cable and no data-plans for iPhones) to get to those goals. Start simple, start today… and never stop 🙂

I hope this helps. For more inspiration, check out elephantjournal.com.. an indie online magazine dedicated to a mindful life, lots of articles on happiness and wellness.. and living in the moment.


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