Quite a few of the products I make are geared towards exploring, towards wanderlust, so I’ve been thinking about travel quite a bit. We’re in a good spot right now: we take a major vacation once a year and do weekend trips every few months. Not overseas, not yet, but that’s coming. We’re cutting things in our budget so we can save towards trips like that. But … what if there is nothing to cut?
I’ve been there: every extra cent goes to groceries, or to medical bills. You don’t have Netflix, Starbucks is a rich person’s dream … there’s nothing to skip. Or there’s a bit of extra cash and budget wiggle room but it doesn’t feel like it amounts to much so why even bother? But you’ve got the yen to travel, to see things, to just be elsewhere, so you google (at the library or your local hotspot) ways to save money in order to travel. And they advise cutting your cable bill, don’t go to Starbucks or go out to eat that often, maybe cut back on the organic foods … and you close the tab in disgust because it doesn’t apply to you.
But … you’re not stuck. You may not be hopping on the plan to Paris anytime soon but you can explore. You’ll just have to start small.
- Explore your town. My mother was absolutely nonplussed when they moved to our little college town to help us get through college (they watched the kiddos, I earned the money). “What do you mean, you haven’t explored? This town has so many things to do!” Then she embarked on a “let’s get to know this town” campaign and, to my great surprise, we never ran out of things to do. We did own a car so we drove to the events (many of which were free), but depending upon where you live you could walk or use the transportation system.
- Explore the state. You have a car and maybe some extra gas money. Take a Sunday drive and just see what’s round you: pack a lunch, put on some tunes, feel the wind in your hair … And if you live near any of the National Parks you can actually drive with a destination in mind. Some trails are free, some require a pass, but for $80 you can get an annual pass. Somehow we managed to pay that $80 for several years because it was absolutely worth it. We never camped but with some basic gear and reading up on the rules you could do overnight trips and truly have an experience on the wild side.
- Explore the next state over. Now this one does require either some extra cash or equipment, but it’s a good middle ground between “I can’t go anywhere” and “we’re flying over the pond, baby!!” We’ve gone to a neighboring state to visit friends and explore the city, and although we did pay for a hotel overall we did not spend that much and it felt amazing to be on the road, seeing the new sights and experiencing the new things.
- Explore the USA (or your own country). You will also need some $$ for this one but if you’ve got your camping gear and a reliable car it doesn’t have to break the bank. Plan your route to coincide with campgrounds (my husband’s family liked to do three nights camping, fourth night hotel to shower and relax), pack your food, and wander. There are several resources online that can help you plan an itinerary, including this one from the National Park Service website.
So as you can see … it may not be the Louvre or the Great Wall, but you can start now. You can start exploring, discovering, indulging that wanderlust, even if the pennies are few and far between.
Until next time … Art On;)