THE UNFORTUNATE TRUTH FOR travelers who lack trust funds is that we must spend a significant amount of time back home and at work to gather enough funding for our journeys. In this downtime arises a unique danger: a danger that we will fall into a rut of comfortable routines, a danger that we will unwittingly decide to blow our money on things and fancy restaurants, a danger that we will become complacent and forget what we really wanted to do with ourselves and with our lives.
The following tips are designed to help you avoid these dangers, and stay on top of your travel goals.
#1 Keep a Visual Reminder
Don’t keep an ambiguous image of white sandy beaches or an exotic mountain range in your office. Instead choose specific spot, find a photo, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it often. I keep a picture of South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (above) as my desktop background to constantly remind me of why I’m working so hard. (photo: d’n'c)
# 2 Buy a Map
One of the things downtime allows you is space to dream up your journey. Take a page out of Reason to Wander’s book and buy a good map, some pins and string and start planning where you want to go. Keep the map someplace in your house or apartment where you’ll see it and have time to ponder, like above a desk or in the kitchen. (photo: o2ma)
#3 Read Good Travel Writing
Keeping on top of travel goals is largely about keeping inspired, and spending some time with books by writers like Pico Iyer, Carsten Jensen, or Simon Winchester is a great way to do so. Lonely Planet also puts out compilations of travel writing regularly, and there’s always The Best American Travel Writing series.
Literature and poetry can similarly nurse your inner wanderer, so don’t overlook Thoreau, Kerouac (try Satori in Paris for something a little different), Whitman or even more offbeat authors like Haruki Murakami.
#4 Carry a Phrasebook
Knowing the language spoken at your destination is an invaluable skill, and will allow you to have a much richer travel experience. If you already know a foreign language, carry flashcards in your bag or purse. Otherwise keep a phrasebook handy so you can start memorizing when you have a few moments on the bus or at a cafe.
#5 Keep a Foreign Language Journal
Language classes or learn-it-yourself programs like Rosetta Stone are great, but keeping a journal in a foreign language is a really good way to make the language feel more like your own. Record your thoughts, keep clippings from travel magazines or foreign newspapers, do rough translations, and take it with you when you finally make the leap to where you’re going.
#6 Keep Tabs on Your Money
Keep a week-by-week spreadsheet on your computer and take a look at where your money goes. Coffee? Clothes? Figure out what you might be able to cut out and funnel into savings or a plane ticket.
#7 Talk With People Who Love Travel
Endlessly discussing travel adventures or goals with friends who aren’t interested can quickly rub them the wrong way, and won’t give you the support you need when you might be doubting. The travel blog community is great, but finding a group of peers you can talk with face-to-face will be an invaluable resource for travel advice and inspiration. Vagabonding talked about travel meetups back in January, and points to Meetup.com as a great way to find them. Otherwise, make friends with people at your local STA Travel or campus travel center, or make your own travel meetings by putting up a bulletin at a local cafe.