The Year of Travel (and Travel Blogging)

I am a simple person. I like the days with nothing scheduled; I can find plenty to do. I love everyone in my family for who they are and enjoy spending time with them. I don’t need very many possessions to feel content. Many, if not most, of my belongings come from thrift stores and Craigslist, although I do splurge now and then on nice things. But mostly, I like to take care of myself and the people around me. And do things with them.

While I verge on being a minimalist and believe less is very often more, there is one area that I have big ambitions. I want to travel the world. Sometimes it feels like I need it. A personal imperative. I need to go places and see new things. And even if it’s corny, I want to feel the wonder of what there is to find out there.

This applies not just to the far reaches of the globe. I want to get the most out of where I live and all that it has to offer as well. Are there rivers to dip my feet in? Are there trails to wander? Are there amazing restaurants or shops to enjoy? Those adventures delight me as well.

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Unfortunately, my financial resources don’t quite match up to all the things I want to do and experience. I’m guessing that applies to lots of people out there. Not only that, I have 2 teenagers. Yep. And a baby. And a significant other who has not quite caught the travel bug like I have. Hmmm. This isn’t just going to happen on it’s own. But I can’t not get out there. So, drum roll please, here’s how I intend to get it done:

Spend Less. I am already rather frugal. I buy generic brands at the grocery store and feel a lot of satisfaction when I can use leftover items in the refrigerator to make a tasty, basically free meal. On the flip side, I can sometimes splurge unnecessarily. I just spent hundreds of dollars on a piece of artwork for our house. Probably I should limit my splurge spending to travel-related expenses going forward. If I want travel to happen. Also, I plan to shop more regularly at thrift stores to find clothes and items for everyone in my family, as well as household items, gifts, and other necessities. And, while I am not willing to obsess on cutting coupons, I will make a routine of shopping the sales and loss leaders at the 3 stores that are nearby my house. The more money I save on things and food and shopping for entertainment, the more I will have to travel.

Earn more money. I’ve been following a blog, singlemomsincome.com, for quite a while now. I follow a number of bloggers, but her success is part of the reason I decided that I could take a chance at starting my own site. She started in 2012, and I found it soon after that. At that time she lived in a trailer with her 2 daughters and was working a regular job, dreaming of working from home. Well, several years later she’s done it, and she’s successful. She posts her online income every month, and she’s doing pretty well. Most of her income comes from her blog and freelance writing, and virtual assisting. I can do those things. Blog. Freelance writing. I’m not sure if I’m interested in the virtual assisting work. Ebooks are also a way to share information and can help propel a writing career and income. That’s a possibility. I have a computer. I can write. I have ideas. Over the years she has listed and provided resources for many other ways to earn money from home, as have hundreds, if not thousands, of websites out there. From completing surveys to starting an online store, there are countless ways to earn money from home. I’m starting with blogging, but expect to try some other strategies to earn money as well.

Travel Hacking. Travel hacking is the art of earning points, miles, and elite status to travel, often with very little financial outlay. This can happen by taking advantage of credit card offers. It can mean making sure that you are signed up for every hotel and airline loyalty program and earning points for each flight and visit. For some it means manufacturing and targeting spending to create more travel rewards. Some people take this to extreme measures that I am not quite comfortable with right now, especially in the realm of manufactured spending. But there are many strategies I do want to try and see what works for me. I’ve already gotten the ball rolling and will be providing a status update on where I am with earning points and miles over time.

Travelling Smart. Last year saw some amazing flight deals come through the pipeline. I’m hoping 2017 will offer more of the same. I plan to travel smart to find the very best flight and hotel deals by using some excellent travel deal blogs, choosing the right times and places to visit, and piggybacking experiences with other family events and obligations. I’ve been creative in the past about putting up with interesting “accommodations” to make travel happen. While I probably won’t sleep in the car with my baby, like I did one time out of necessity with my older children, I will consider camping, even abroad or to visit big cities, house swaps, and the like. I expect to try some interesting things again. Couch surfing anyone….?

Piggybacking on Opportunities. This last October my friend asked me to go for a night with her to her cabin about 2 hours away. She needed to do some cleaning and organizing and wanted the company. I hesitated because my baby was only 5 months, but eventually went. What a joy. We had some good girl time, the cabin was beautiful, baby did great. I brought the breakfast meal–she brought dinner.  It was lovely. And free. When in doubt, go for it. Do you have close family that like to have you visit? Go be touristy with them. Do your kids travel for school or sports? Go with them!  Does your partner travel for work? See if you can go and share the hotel and have couple time after work duties are completed. If there are opportunities to travel that save money and allow you to be with the people you love, go for it.

Living Large Locally. In 2017 I plan at least two cross-country adventures, a trip to Disneyland, and a couple of northwest excursions. I’m hoping to find an opportunity to go abroad as well and plan to get  baby her own passport early this year. Luckily for my own sense of satisfaction, I also find adventure and joy in doing things near to home. Everything from overnight trips and day trips to regular walks along the river to see what we can see. I went apple picking with my family last fall and found that it helped satisfy some of my wanderlust. It was only 45 minutes away, but the orchard and farmland was a whole new world to me. Finding opportunities for adventure that are nearby, and thus can occur more often, and cost less- that’s part of how I creatively travel and make new experiences for me and my family.

There you have the basic strategy for how I intend to make 2017 my year of travel. How will you make travel and adventure part of your year?

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