“I can’t afford to travel” is one of the top reasons that people tell me they are holding back from following their dreams of exploring the world. This is closely followed by explanations like: “I don’t have time to travel’ or “I have too many family commitments to travel” or even “I can’t leave my dog to travel.”
And I get it. These are all valid reasons why people struggle to book trips and get away on the holidays they long for. As I’ve said many times before, a grown-up gap year is very different to taking one when you’re 18 or 21.
You have so many more responsibilities and so much more to think about before you ditch everything to travel. Even short trips away can be stressful for people who have limited time/budgets or family obligations.
But in this post I wanted to explore how it’s possible to overcome some of the obstacles that seem to stand in the way of us travelling. I strongly believe that there are different ways to experience travel, whether that’s through making sacrifices to save, asking for support from family and friends or exploring what’s on your own doorstep.
So here’s some tips I’ve put together to help you get over the “I can’t travel because…” stumbling block that may be in your head.
I can’t afford to travel
I think “I can’t afford to travel” is one of the things I hear most when people tell me what’s stopping them from packing their bags. And it’s totally understandable. Travelling is not free. Even to do a very basic, thrifty trip, you need some money to start off with.
So before you begin you need to come up with a reasonable, achievable saving plan. I also think it helps to set a timeframe in which to do it.
Think about how you spend your money and what you spend it on. What are the things you prioritise? Is there any way you can cut out some things you spend money on in order to save more? I wrote this post about some easy ways you can start to save.
Once you’ve planned your dream trip, work out a rough budget (this post may help). Then, set yourself a deadline. Having something to work towards will make it easier. You could also start booking parts of your trip, which will give you an incentive to keep saving. (Just make sure you get insurance to cover yourself.)
If you already live on a tight budget and you can’t afford to save much, start thinking closer to home. You really don’t have to travel far to have an adventure. If you know someone you can borrow a tent from, camping is a very low-cost option for a trip.
Another option is to reach out to family and friends to see whether anyone would be interested in you house-sitting while they go away on their own break. There are also house-sitting and house swap groups on Facebook you could investigate.
Rather than thinking “I can’t afford to travel”, change your mindset to start thinking about the things you *can* do.
I don’t have time to travel
For many people who work full-time, this is a big one. While your head may be full of adventures in far-off destinations, being restricted by the number of days you can take off from your job is very limiting.
This is where using your annual leave wisely comes in. Block out your holidays for the year and make the most of bank holidays. Roaming Required has written an excellent post about maximising your annual leave.
If you’ve used all of your allowance, consider taking long weekend breaks instead. You can hop on a train or a plane straight after work on a Friday and be back at your desk on Monday morning after a fun-filled weekend. Definitely beats a weekend of DIY and doing the food shop!
I have too many family commitments to travel
This is a common one, especially as we get older and our family dynamics change. You might have children or be responsible for caring for elderly parents.
Again, it’s important to thing about “how” you can travel, rather than focus on what limits you.
If you have children you can, of course, travel with them. Our travel style has definitely changed since having our little adventurer. And it will continue to change as we move from travelling with a baby to travelling with a toddler.
While it does bring its own challenges, I firmly believe that travelling with children brings with it so many benefits, both for the parents and your little ones.
Obviously as they get older and enter full-time education, trips will need to be planned during school holidays. Again, this means organising your holidays early and looking out for deals, especially in January. The Travel Hack has three children and has recently written a good post about how to book cheap family villas. Also, if you don’t mind where you go, you can look out for last minute deals too.
If you’re a carer, obviously that is a bit more tricky. But think about other ways you can take a break. If you are a full-time carer in the UK for example, many councils offer respite breaks. Or if you care for someone on a part-time basis, could you ask another family member or friend to stand in for you for a couple of days?
Again, you don’t have to do a massive trip but even a weekend away will give you a chance to recharge your batteries and experience a new place.
I can’t travel because of my pet
I know that this is a big one for many people, as pets are an important part of your family.
If this is the case, you have to decide between two options: either leave your dog/cat/goldfish in someone else’s care or take it with you.
If you choose to leave them, there are plenty of options from kennels, to pet-sitters and even house-sitters, who will come and live in your house and care for your animal (this is a great option if you’re consider long-term travel.)
There’s also the option to have a more informal set up with a family member/friend caring for a pet. Just make sure they’ll definitely give it back when you return. (I know someone who lost their pet rabbit while they were travelling as the family who was caring for it refused to give it back when they came home!)
If you choose to take your pet with you, that obviously limits where you can travel somewhat. But there is plenty of pet-friendly accommodation in the UK and if your pet has a passport you can also (currently) take them into Europe from the UK.
I can’t travel because I’m concerned about the environment
This is something which I think more and more of us are beginning to think about.
If you’re concerned about the environment there are lots of ways you can cut down on your carbon emissions when you travel.
Overland travel is becoming increasingly popular and On The Luce has some brilliant ideas for more sustainable travel swaps you can make. In fact she has even pledged to go Flight Free in 2020 and I’m really interested to see where her adventures take her.
I find it exciting to read about how people are beginning to travel in more sustainable ways and I think it’s exciting to think about the different travel options available to us, rather than always jumping on a plane.
Once again, don’t forget about all of the places you can explore on your own doorstep. Look out for cheap train tickets and make the most of day trips or weekends away.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful. I think in this day and age of social media it’s so easy to get caught up in comparisons with others and to think about all of the things you can’t do. But next time you tell yourself “I can’t afford to travel” or “I don’t have time to travel”, think about whether there are simple steps you could be putting in place to make your dreams happen.