By Joan Johnson
Let’s face it, we each have our priorities. Mine are different from most of my co-workers. They live vicariously through me when I travel out of the country or hold a balloon in the Thanksgiving Day parade or do Marathon hoopla with my belly dance friends. I can’t say I really live vicariously through them. They seem to spend a lot of time on yard work.
A few of them came to me after they saw the photos of my recent trip to Nepal. They told me about places they dreamed of seeing. But they weren’t actually planning to go there. Planning, as in putting down on paper what they need and how much it will cost and when they will do it. That’s the biggest difference between dreaming and making it reality.
Here are some of the most common obstacles I hear about.
—Get all the facts: the trip itself, airfare, visas, gear, etc. Is it $3,000? That’s $250 a month for a year. Automatic deductions are your friend. Create a savings account just for the trip, set whatever amount you can afford to take out per paycheck and pretend it was never there. This is much easier than deciding every two weeks what you want more, the epic trip sometime in the future or whatever is on sale at the mall this week.
—Christmas / Birthday / any other kind of gift — If grandma still gives you cash, add that to the savings account. Otherwise fill out online wish lists for gear, clothes, guide books that you’ll need. Gift givers want to give you something you’ll enjoy, why not make it part of your dream trip?
—I won’t give you the old “the cost of a Starbucks per day” comparison. You have to look at what you do and why you do it and how important it is to you. The truth is, there are often things we don’t want to do or could do differently that we could save money on. The internet has plenty of money saving tips. I will just share one — the 30 day list. If you think you would like a new blender, record the date and price and type you want, then wait 30 days to buy it. I still have a hand mixer in the box because I was sure I needed it for a cooking project that I have never gotten around to trying.
—Maybe your boss normally doesn’t let you take off more than a week at a time; you may need to negotiate a bit to get the time required. But you may be surprised how excited and supportive people can be when they hear someone else is taking an exotic trip. Remember, they get to live vicariously through you.
—No time to plan? Something particular about that location caught your imagination to begin with. Start with that, learn what you need to do and build the rest of the trip around it. If you are using a tour company, tell them what is important to you and let them narrow your choices down.
—Maybe you need more time to get ready for a trip that is already on the BCO calendar. You have options. Let the event leader and Kelly know that you would be interested in doing that trip on a future date. If that trip is not repeated then use their trip as a blueprint for your own. Or you could become an event leader and schedule the next trip yourself, absolutely insuring that it will fit your time frame.
—You are probably not too old. There are old people in every country. Many of them climb mountains, sail boats, herd livestock, harvest crops, and do back-breaking labor because that is what they do there. If you are not fit enough for exactly what you want to do yet, can you change that in the next six months? Will you have more motivation to work out if you know it means you’ll have more fun while cycling through Italy? So you raise your fitness level for your everyday life and your epic trip as well. Sounds like a win-win.
—Tour groups can accommodate you. I’ve had a mysterious knee issue for years now. The doctors didn’t find any injury, but their advice hasn’t fixed it. Couple that with a stress fracture and I went into my Nepal trek knowing I could be slow and sore, but I told the tour company in advance and they gave us an extra guide so we could all go at our own pace. Now I’m planning a more strenuous trek and I’m working on the knee pain with a personal trainer. But one of the trekking guides assured me that I can still go at my own pace and not worry.
—Even if you have family obligations, try creativity and advance planning rather than assuming you can’t go. A co-worker wants to climb Kilimanjaro, but the prime travel season is during his scheduled time with his young daughter. So he is thinking he should wait a few years so he won’t feel guilty when he leaves her with her grandparents. If you wait, I told him, she’ll be old enough to go with you. How cool would that be? Think of the “how I spent my summer” essay she would write that year!
The trip of a lifetime is like many other parts of your life — ask yourself what it is you really want, what would it take to get it, and when are you going to do it. What’s stopping you?
BCO sends a big thank you to our guest blogger Joan Johnson for this piece.