For many of us, travel was once easy to do. A priority that trumped other things in life. But things slowly change as life progresses, as you start your career and family. It gets harder to find time to travel when there are so many competing responsibilities.
Kid’s activities, household chores, and obligations are necessary but they take so much time away from things we want to do, like getting out and experiencing new places.
Well, that’s about to change. It’s time to re-prioritize and focus on traveling again. I want to help you take the first steps to travel more often.
I will explain four easy but powerful steps that will help you fit more travel into your life.
- Re-define travel
- Make travel a priority
- Plan ahead
I know it sounds simple but it’s so easy to let daily activities dominate your time, and before you know it the work week starts again. I want to help you re-frame your thinking and take steps to fit more travel in your life.
Beyond finding the time to travel, I know that money is a huge factor. When you have a family, traveling can be more expensive. I have some resources below with great advice on saving money.
Before I had my son, travel was a priority in my life. My love of travel started when I was 17 years old and I lived with a family in Argentina for a summer. I was hooked. With the help of my travel-loving mom, I took every opportunity I had to experience the world.
That all changed when I graduated college and landed a full-time job. Suddenly I couldn’t get up and go whenever I wanted. Then I had Coen and traveling slowed to a crawl. I got so caught up in daily life and before I knew it, I was hardly traveling at all.
My priorities had changed too. I bought a house and wanted to fix it up, which takes time and money.
We were saving money to install new floors and one day I ran across a sale for cheap plane tickets to Paris.
Something happened. Suddenly, travel felt attainable. It felt as if a dam broke and my passion for travel came flooding back to the front of my mind.
We didn’t buy the tickets to Paris. Instead, we decided to be content with our floors and go to Alaska with the money we’d saved.
This shift in thinking prompted me to start this blog. There must be others out there like me who love traveling but have been over-run with daily life. I want to help people realize that traveling doesn’t have to end, it has to be re-imagined and re-prioritized.
A 2017 study by OnePoll found that 76% of Americans want to travel more. I’m certainly in that camp. So I say, let’s do it! This is how we’re going to make it happen:
1. Re-Define Travel
I used to feel like “traveling” meant getting on a plane and crossing an ocean. Visiting exotic places or museums in foreign countries.
But I shifted the way I think about travel. I realized that my local museums have unique pieces that aren’t seen anywhere else. The town 50 miles down the road has a fascinating history.
Exploring places close to home can be just as meaningful as taking a distant, expensive trip.
Local, weekend travel has many of the same benefits of traveling to far off places. Kids can be exposed to culture by going to the local theater, music hall, or museum. The quality may not be as high as a big city, but your kids don’t know that.
Traveling with your family, no matter where you go creates a strong bond. You are doing things together as a team and building memories along the way. Traveling, whether a big vacation, a day trip, or an afternoon in the park, gives you the chance to unplug and focus on your family and the moment.
2. Make Travel a Priority
Make time to travel. This might mean other things have to be pushed to the side or rearranged in your schedule.
Is there a stack of dirty dishes in your sink? Does the laundry need to be folded? That’s ok. It is more important to create memories, learn something new, or just have fun.
These are a few things that can be re-prioritized:
- Fold laundry after the kids go to bed, while you catch up on the latest Netflix episodes.
- Save your home improvement projects for times when the weather is bad. Reserve good weather for exploring.
- Prioritize weekend travel at a time of the year when your kids don’t have weekend sports or activities.
- Does the bathroom really need to be deep cleaned every weekend? If you have a young boy like I do, the answer might be yes.
Take a step back and evaluate all your weekly chores and activities. Can some of them be moved to days other than the weekend? Doing this will free up more of your valuable weekend time.
Also, make travel a theme in your home and surround your family with the beauty of the world.
Make a statement and hang a pushpin map on your wall. Proudly show where you’ve gone and where you dream to go. A constant visual of the world or your country is a powerful reminder to make your travel dreams come true.
A classic map or a modern map looks beautiful on the wall.
Get an inexpensive globe and explore the world with your kids. I have wonderful memories of spinning the globe with my mom and picking the places we wanted to go. You’ll be amazed how fast kids can remember country names.
Plus, it’s embarrassing how little world geography Americans know compared to people from other countries. I’m determined to teach Coen all the countries in the world. (Stepping off soap-box)
3. Plan Ahead
It’s crucial to have a running list of where you want to go and what you want to do. Treat it as a list of goals and write down each place you want to visit. A study found that you are 42% more likely to reach your goals if you write them down and refer to them often.
That’s why I created a travel bucket list and I want to share it with you. When I write down where I want to go I am able to be more spontaneous. When we have a free Saturday or weekend, I can quickly check the list and off we go. I don’t have to come up with a plan every time.
It’s separated into 4 categories: local activities, day trips, weekend trips, and dream vacations.
- An afternoon in a new park
- A local museum
- A nearby hike
- Spend the day at a river or lake
- Visit a new town
- Go camping
- Visit a close city
- Find a secluded place and truly unplug
- National Park
- Visit a new part of the country
As a family, brainstorm ideas for each of these categories and be specific. Get the kids involved to make them excited about traveling. Use my travel bucket list to get quick start and keep it in a visible place.
4. Schedule Your Trips
This is the most important step. It’s too easy to get swept up in the daily routine of work and chores. If you put your adventures on the calendar, you are much more likely to follow through.
- Start small. Find a day, or a few days, and schedule a local activity or day trip.
- Next, look forward on your calendar and find time for a weekend trip.
- Imagine your dream vacation. You’re not going to put it on the calendar yet. You’re going to write it down and keep it in a visible spot. Then, research what you need to do to take that trip (save X amount of money, get passports, etc.) and make a plan to work toward that goal.
- Once you have it figured out, put it on the calendar.
I know first-hand that time isn’t the most limiting factor. Saving money for those big trips takes time and effort. I will post all about saving money for travel but for now I want to point you towards a website that has great advice on how to save money.
I read a lot of wonderful family travel blogs that homeschool their kids while they travel the world. I love the idea of that, but it’s not realistic for so many of us.
That is why I am writing this. To show you that traveling can and should be a big part of your life. You just have to approach it a little differently when there are so many competing responsibilities.
The big trips are special and don’t happen as often as we’d like, but don’t underestimate the power of weekend travel. The goal is to discover new places, spend time together, and create memories. This can be done close to home as well as in distant places.
The key is to continue to add trips to your schedule. If you re-define, prioritize, plan ahead, and schedule, you and your family can travel more than you may have expected.
I have a challenge for you. Find the next available weekend and schedule an activity, day trip, or weekend away.
I’d love to know what you plan to do! Add a comment and tell me your plan.
Be sure to grab the travel bucket list.