Living the good life. What does that look like to you? For many Americans, getting to travel frequently is probably high up on the list. Whether your dream trip is a quick tropical getaway, a classic summer road trip, or a year-long trip around the world, there actually aren’t as many obstacles between you and that fantasy as you think. Here, we address four of the most common travel obstacles.
I can’t afford to travel.
One of the most pervasive myths about travel is that it is too expensive for any but the 1% to enjoy. The fact is that not only can travel be far more affordable than many people think, but many Americans are far wealthier than they realize. Take a moment and tally up how much money you spend each month on leisure items. Your daily visit to Starbucks, that gym membership you rarely use, the just-for-fun subscription box… If you’re in the middle class, chances are you make and spend more money than you’re aware of. Imagine how fast your savings account could grow if you started cooking at home instead of going out to dinner and drinks every night. Plus, staying in hostels and eating street food on the road can stretch that savings account to cover as much time as possible. The costs of travel aren’t as scary as we’re trained to think.
I won’t be safe.
We won’t mince words. Travel isn’t always perfectly safe. But then neither is crossing the street. While we don’t recommend dropping in on an active war zone, particularly if you’re a less experienced traveler, most parts of the world aren’t any more or less dangerous than your hometown. Do plenty of research in advance, wherever you go. Learn which neighborhoods are safest for tourists, and what scams are common in the area. While you’re on the ground, simple common sense precautions, like staying aware of your surroundings and not flashing around cash and valuables, will go a long way to keeping you safe.
I have a spouse and/or kids.
If travel is a priority to you, there’s no need to write off your dreams because of family. If you can’t bear to leave them behind, the solution seems pretty simple: take them with you. Traveling with a group certainly has its own stressors, but there are tons of bloggers out there who specialize in couple and family travel. Honeymooners will find great guides in Mike and Anne Howard of HoneyTrek, while families with children can get inspired by the adventures of Jessica Bowers and clan on Suitcases and Sippy Cups.
I have a demanding job.
The United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that doesn’t guarantee employees paid leave. In a climate like that, you’d think the lucky folks who do work for companies that offer paid leave would jump at the chance to enjoy a vacation, but according to a massive 2014 study, over 40% of Americans don’t use all their paid time off. If you’re one of the many folks worried that cashing in your hours for a much-needed vacation would send the wrong message to the boss, rest assured that you can take steps to show your commitment to the job without making sacrifices in other areas of your life. Give your employer plenty of notice, set reasonable expectations about how much and when you can check in remotely, spend a couple weeks working ahead as much as possible, and trust your coworkers to fill in the gaps while you’re gone. We all want job security, but you don’t have to be irreplaceable to be valuable to your company, and coming back from a vacation refreshed and ready to tackle the next big project will probably make you an even better employee.