One day, you have a revelation. “I want to travel,” you say. Not just once or twice a year. You want to travel all the time — or as often as you can afford, anyway. You want to finally visit all the places on your bucket list. You want to see the world!
So… how do you do that? How do you make travel your life? First, do these seven things.
Is your heart telling you to sell all your possessions and live a truly nomadic life? Or would you simply like to take five international trips this year instead of two? Which sounds better: a series of extended stays (a month in Barcelona, then two in Beijing) or spending just a few days in each destination on your list? Do you want to cruise, fly, drive, hike, cycle, sail, or all of the above?
A “travel lifestyle” means something different to everyone. Only you can define what it means to you — and then you can pursue it.
For most of us, adopting the travel lifestyle isn’t as simple as packing a backpack, locking the front door and speeding away. We have commitments: cats, dogs, jobs, families, houseplants. And taken as a whole, those commitments can seem like a giant wall in front of us, painted with the words: “YOU CAN’T LEAVE.”
You can, though. With pen and paper, write down all the reasons you feel you can’t travel more. Got pets and a house to take care of? Hire a house sitter, or put out the call to your friends. Not sure if your significant other will support you? Sit down and start the conversation. You might be surprised by what they say. Not enough vacation time? Negotiate for more, ask for a sabbatical or furlough, or strategically combine your vacation days with holidays to allow for more travel.
When you’re trying to figure out how to travel more, money usually rears its head as the number-one obstacle. Unless you’re already a well-known blogger or Instagram icon, you shouldn’t expect to fund your travels just by writing about them online — at least not to begin with. Successful travel bloggers will tell you that it takes years to build enough traffic to earn money from advertising, affiliate marketing or corporate sponsorships.
But these same lifestyle travelers also say that travel’s not as expensive as you think it is, and there are a hundred ways to fund it. One is to adopt a crash-savings plan, and/or radically downsize what you own: house, car, possessions. Another is to seek out work opportunities overseas. Travelers can earn money as freelance writers, graphic designers, English teachers, farm workers, tour guides, nannies, photographers… Opportunities also abound to exchange volunteer work for free accommodations. Take a look at job site Workaway for ideas.
Start with this step-by-step guide to planning your travel bucket list. It’ll help you come up with a long list of dream destinations, then pare them down and prioritize them. For example, if you’re generally fit and in good health, this could be the year you climb Machu Picchu. If your knee has been giving you some trouble, it’s probably best to plan a river cruise and save the trekking for later.
European travel guru Rick Steves has a wise suggestion for planning long, multi-country trips: “try to start in mild countries (such as England) and work into the places with greater culture shock (such as Turkey). This way you'll minimize stress, and save countries offering the cheapest shopping — and greatest health risks — for the end of your trip.”1
Your budget doesn’t have to be 100 percent accurate. You just need a ballpark figure so you know what to shoot for. Let’s say you live in Chicago, and you want to visit Costa Rica, Croatia, and Quebec this year.
This is the fun part. If you’re going to make travel your life, you might as well do it in style. That means upgrading your luggage to something sturdy and handsome that meets carry-on rules. It means investing in some très chic, très comfy travel shoes and building a classic, wrinkle-resistant travel wardrobe. It means buying a thief-proof purse or backpack, and other gear to protect your tech while traveling. And it definitely means getting some drip-dry underwear.
If you’re planning more than three trips in a year, annual travel insurance is a no-brainer. Buy it once and your trips are covered for 365 days. With the affordable Annual Deluxe Plan, you get up to $20,000 in emergency medical benefits, up to $100,000 in emergency medical transportation benefits up to $2,000 in trip cancellation benefits and a whole lot more.
If you’re planning a single, longer trip with flexible dates and itineraries, the Travelers Protection Plan may be your best option. It’s a low-cost travel insurance plan that has only post-departure benefits, including emergency medical care, emergency medical transportation, travel delay, missed connections and lost/stolen baggage. The Travelers Protection Plan can be adjusted for varying trip lengths, and even extended up to 180 days. Travel happy!