My biggest travel regret will likely be taking so long to get serious about my RTW plans. After I learned about long-term travel, it was over a year and a half before I had a strong savings plan in place and was all in. Had I been diligent about saving and planning from the get go, I would be able to leave now.
So for anyone on the fence themselves, I give these three pieces of advice for taking the plunge.
Set a date
When I went to a Meet Plan Go event in NYC a little over a year ago, I had the privilege of Lisa Lubin personally slapping some sense into me. When Lisa asked me when I was taking my trip, I hedged. Oh, two, maybe three years, whenever the money comes together… She interrupted me on the spot and insisted I pick a date.
There is no perfect time to take the plunge. If you don’t give yourself a hard deadline for your RTW trip, you will always find a reason not to go. Once you have a rough estimate for how much you need to save and how much money you can put away each month, set a hard departure date. If you don’t reach your savings goal by then, you can take a shorter trip or find ways to make money on the road.
Treat your travel fund like a bill
Once you have a budget established – sites like Mint.com are great for this – your travel savings should be a non-negotiable expense, just like your rent and electricity. Setting up an automatic transfer from your main checking account to a specially dedicated savings account is a huge help with this.
If saving for travel is an option, you will always find something else to spend your money on, and you’ll be left shortchanged (literally) when the time comes for your trip.
Tell family sooner rather than later
One of my biggest obstacles in deciding to take a RTW trip was what my mother would say. My mom and I are so close, but she’s not a traveler herself and has many a typical mom safety concern. A lot of people advised me to just not include non-supportive voices in my travel plans, even if they were family and friends, but I hated that advice. Why wasn’t there an option to meet loved ones halfway?
I started out small with my mom. I told her about my travel plans before they were definite. I told her about my own reservations and how I got over them. I shared that full thought process with her. After a few months, she was talking about my long-term travel future more confidently even than I was.
If my anxious mother, who didn’t leave the U.S. for the first forty-some years of her life, can be supportive of long-term travel, I think almost anybody can.
Concerned parents just want to know you’ll be safe. The answer to those worries isn’t pushing them away, but sharing your own research and planning in more detail. Seeing how much thought you’ve put into your RTW trip, hearing from those same successful travelers that inspired you, and knowing how you’ll stay healthy and safe on the road… that all goes a long way to turning a doubtful voice into a supportive one.
There may still be people who never understand why you want to travel, but give your loved ones a chance to support you. The more you share your travel plans with friends and family, the more likely you are to fulfill those dreams.