“Man has always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reason.”—Douglas Noel Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
People always tell me they want to travel. That’s one of the first things they mention when I ask what they plan to do when they retire.
I tell them not to wait. Travel now! When I read that 29% of Americans died before reaching age 65, and then after retiring at age 65, 33% of them were dead within two years, I decided I wasn’t going to wait until I retired to have a great life. I scaled my own financial speaking/writing/workshop career to include large amounts of time off to play and to travel.
Who wants to miss seeing the world, enjoying a scrumptious dinner at the Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, skiing in Vail, sailing in San Francisco Bay, birding in Cancun, eating a $25 ice cream cone in Rome, or winning a poker tournament on a Card Player Cruise to the Caribbean?
I never traveled at all until I noticed I was wishing I had. Now I’ve had all the adventures listed above because I put them on my agenda—and then on my calendar—for the past 30 years. And you can, too—starting right now.
There are trips you can take to suit every budget, but travel won’t happen unless you make sure to have a travel category and put money in it.
To start, you have to make friends with the word “budget”. I say it stands for Baby-U-Deserve-Getting-Every-Thing! Then make three different budgets: low, medium, and high. Start with your medium budget which is the money you’re making right now and what you’re spending it on. Create low budget by taking out all the discretionary expenses you can, and then create high budget by adding in your dream job at your dream salary and all the expenses you’d like to have.
But in every budget—even the lowest one—have some money allocated into the travel category, and have some time blocked off in the calendar to use it.
Each budget is just for one month. Anybody can be on low budget for a month – it’s not a life sentence. You want to be sure to have a medium budget to move up to as soon as you can, and a high budget for when you’re living the life of your dreams. That will spur your creative mind to create the opportunities to make more money. Now choose some wonderful destinations you would like to travel to in each particular budget.
Where can you travel when you’re on low budget? This may mean you do a “staycation” and just have fun exploring your local haunts. Maybe there’s a theme park near you that’s reasonable, or you can visit a local Botanical Gardens, a park, a natural history museum. You can go to an art show, the art museum, or a local gallery. You can visit a petting zoo or go to the beach. Whatever you choose, you’re building the habit of travel.
When you make more money and your prospects improve, you can move up the scale to medium budget. What kind of travel can you put in that category? Cruises are wonderful, and they include lots of food and fun in the price. What country have you always wanted to visit? Search out tours that fit your budget. What are the sights you want to see while you’re there? Some can be free, some can be expensive—I suggest creating a mixture of both so you include at least one night out on the town where you spend some good money having a great time.
High budget is the budget of your dreams. Want to play roulette in Monte Carlo? Climb the Alps? Parasail in Uruguay? Sleep on the beach in Thailand? Cruise the Nile to Karnak and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt? Spend a week at the Four Seasons George V in Paris? Knock yourself out fantasizing the best vacations ever, and you’ll soon start figuring out ways to make more money so you can actualize them.
All of this is very practical, but there’s a surprising “secret sauce” to add spice to your travel budgets, and just might upgrade your adventures.
I am optimistic by nature and believe in the power of positive thinking. So among the happy affirmations I say each day is this one “I now receive free first-class travel and accommodations all around the world!”
One year, I jetted off with three of my girlfriends for a cruise on a paddlewheel steamer up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis. We were staying in New Orleans to take in the sights for a couple of days before getting on our ship.
As we waited in line at the check-in counter at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Orleans, the harried clerk apologized profusely—they were completely overbooked. The rooms we reserved weren’t available. She asked if we would mind sharing a suite instead of having separate rooms. We said “Sure!” because we’re easygoing people, and we were on vacation and having fun. She apologized over and over, but we assured her we were fine with it.
We knew something good had happened when we had to use our key in the elevator to get to the concierge floor and passed the lovely room where they served complimentary munchies and soft-drinks.
Our collective breaths caught as we saw the black-and-white marble-tiled floor of the entryway and the full-length oil painting and large vase of flowers. This was no ordinary suite. We dropped our bags on the floor and turned right into the living room. It was huge! Fireplace, couches, television, elegant tables and chairs, a dining table set for ten in the dining room, and a full kitchen behind that. The balcony alone was bigger than the usual hotel room. The master bedroom was huge, with a gorgeous four-poster bed, and the master bath had a whirlpool bathtub and another television. We were jumping up and down with “oohs” and “ahhs”.
We had been given a free upgrade to the Presidential Suite that goes for $2,000 a night!
Live it up! What secret goal do you want but are afraid to name because you can’t see how you would ever get it, how you would qualify for it? Want to put High-Roller Suite on your list even if you’re not a High-Roller? Or an overnight stay at Buckingham Palace, even if you’re not royalty?
Make travel a top priority, put your dreams on your budget, and you’ll create a life full of beautiful, happy memories. Bon Voyage!
Chellie Campbell is the creator of the Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops, and author, From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. She has been prominently quoted as a financial expert in the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping, Lifetime, Essence, Woman’s World and more than 50 popular books.
Want another way to fund your travels? Enter the We Said Go Travel Writing Competition 2015!
Share your story and have a chance at $650usd in cash prizes!
PHOTOS from Chellie Campbell:
1 Ships in the harbor at Dubrovnik
2 Black sand beach at Santorini, Greece
3 Bobbi, Shelley and Chellie at Villa D’Este outside Rome, Italy