“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi.
And another inspirational line – “If not now, when?”
I remember a time when I thought international travel was for other people, that it was just beyond my reach. Certain thoughts held me back, for example, there wasn’t enough money, there were language barriers, time restraints, and just plain fear of the unknown.
However, just like a volcano sitting dormant but active deep inside, the burning desire to travel abroad began to heat up and rumble inside me so that it could no longer be ignored. If you can relate, here are 5 easy steps to get on that plane and on your way.
#1: See yourself there. Make a vision board.
As an avid yard sale enthusiast, I get enormous joy from finding a great bargain. A few years back, while rummaging around, I found a package of wall hangings of famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Rialto Bridge. I brought them home and hung them on my bedroom wall without much purpose other than enjoying their beauty. They lived happily on the wall, and every day my partner and I would look at them and smile. After a while we started saying how cool it would be to kiss on the Rialto Bridge and on top of the Eiffel Tower. We even pasted a picture of the two of us above the wall hangings.
Fast forward to 2017. We did it! Yes, we made it to both of those places and have numerous selfies of us lip locking as we stood on these iconic structures. Call it a vision board or manifestation; it worked for us. When we hung those pictures, we weren’t thinking about manifesting a trip to those places, but the idea started to grow and eventually became firmly planted in our minds. Now we are talking about our next trip and what to hang on our wall. We know that this daily reminder and constant visual played a big part in making this dream become a reality. Where do you want to go?
#2 – Start a vacation savings account. A little at a time.
My grandparents survived the Great Depression and like so many others, were profoundly changed forever. Their survival skills turned into concrete, practical money management know-how that they inadvertently passed on to me and my siblings. They were frugal shoppers and took care of every possession. No matter their income or financial state, they always managed to save for a rainy day. Even if it meant saving $5 from each paycheck, they put it aside and little by little it grew. This skill was instilled in me, and has become a powerful tool. My partner and I used that philosophy to create and grow our vacation fund.
#3 – Search for cheap flights. Start early.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as getting an excellent deal on a plane flight. The secret I have found is to start about 9 months in advance and do a search every week or so because prices will fluctuate quite dramatically. It is smart to shop around, especially if you have some flexibility in the dates you can travel. Some of my favorite flight aggregators are Just Fly, Google Flights, and Skyscanner. Kayak and Expedia are good, too. Rumor has it that Tuesdays are when you will find the best airline ticket prices. Once you buy that plane ticket, you are as good as there!
#4 – Decide on your preferred adventure style.
My very first trip to Europe was a solo adventure. My initial exuberance quickly turned to fear and trepidation. Would I be safe? Could I get around and communicate with the locals? My solution was to go on a Rick Steves‘ guided tour. I am usually not a tour type person, but I really needed the security this time. It was a perfect choice because the tour guide spoke English and held our hands throughout the entire seven days as we visited museums and shlepped our bags on and off buses and in and out of hotels. Anyone who takes 20 plus nervous travelers across Italy should be immediately elevated to sainthood, in my opinion. But I digress… Think about which travel style is best for you. Solo travel, guided tour, self-guided tour, or just arrive and be completely spontaneous? Once you know this about yourself, planning gets much easier.
#5 – Keep it to yourself.
I know this sounds a bit strange, but sometimes it is best to keep certain things to ourselves for a while. People can be funny. Even people who love us may have small pangs of envy or even fear. When I began to move forward with my Europe vacation planning and started telling my friends and family about it, I was surprised by some of the reactions. These spoken or unspoken reactions can make us begin to doubt ourselves. So as you progress through the planning stages of your trip, even though you want to shout it to the world, be selective and tell those who you know will be genuinely happy and supportive. By sequestering your happy secret, you get to walk around with a wry smile and a joyful heart and people will wonder what you are up to.
So get out there are and start planning, scheming, and visioning. You deserve it. Promise you will send me some pictures from your travel adventure!