What can you do when you want to travel, to get up and go, but your bank account says “no way.”
Well, there’s plenty you can do until you can afford to travel again:
- Dreams are free: Use your time to think and dream of the places you’d like to go, from general ideas to somewhere particular. Think about why you want to go there, what you want to see, what you want to do. Let yourself be open to places you haven’t considered before, or experiences you’ve never thought of trying.
- Research is free too: There are a myriad of ways to research and find out more about how much it will cost you to go to places you’d like to go. You can become an expert on airfares to different locations, including the best times of the year to travel. You can explore hotels at your destinations, or B&Bs, or Airbnb and other vacation rentals and figure how much it might cost you to stay there. Would it make sense to book a package deal for your destination? How about a tour? A cruise? The Internet, travel magazines and the travel section in many newspapers are filled with ways to explore travel ideas, costs and also find reviews. Online travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz can give you an idea of what travel packages cost. Guidebooks for places from local to all over the world can be found at the library, packed full of information about places to see, places to eat, and experiences to try.
- Discover travel blogs and websites: If you’re looking for anything travel-related, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in someone’s travel blog. Besides actual travel experiences, travel-related blogs also cover topics like places to go, reviews of all sorts of things related to travel, tips for how to save for travel, and ways to keep travel expenses down. There are also websites devoted to finding cheap airfare, lodging and all other aspects of travel.
- Travel through books and TV: Finding and reading books and magazines that go beyond guidebooks can give you a deeper sense of place, and of the culture of places you want to go. Photo books, non-fiction travel experiences, or even fiction set in a particular place all have the potential to tell you about places or experiences that don’t or won’t get written up in the guidebooks, and give you a deeper understanding of the culture of a place. For example, Donna Leon’s mysteries set in Venice go way beyond the “whodunit” to inform about the culture and food of Venice. You can also discover what to eat (or avoid) through books or television shows, like the ones from Anthony Bourdain, and create your own “must-try” list.
- Learn a new language: No matter where you want to go, you can learn a little of the local language while you build up your travel account. There are several free sites available offering language instruction, like Duolingo or Memrise, and you can often find free language instruction materials, like those from Pimsleur, at your library. Language learning is good for your mind and memory, and at the very least will help you get around your destination more easily, wherever you go.
Can’t go anywhere because you don’t have money right now for travel? Look for the upside, and become an armchair traveler for a while. Get yourself ready to actually travel. Use your time to dream and figure out where you want to go and how to do it the best way for you. No, it’s not the same as actually being somewhere, but it can eventually get you where you want to go.
And, while you’re armchair traveling? Save, save, save so that someday you can go!