Vision for the Adventure
Create a vision board. Make it visual and creative. Make it your own. I created a vision board on January 4th, 2015 — it had clips from a Travel + Leisure magazine, a Europe issue in fact that I had purchased, and my vision board had all kinds of words leading me onward. “Follow your bliss” “What are you passionate about?” “Europe” “Run to the Roar” and so much more. It might sound simple, but writing things down makes them real, at least for me, and it brings an idea to life. It is then no longer just an idea. Your dreams are now visually in front of you.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” – Emerson
Resources & Lodging
You don’t have to have abundant resources, you just need enough. What do you need to get there? How much? How little can you work with? Minimal is best and of course plan to enjoy some things along the way. Plan for your big money items and nice dinners, and also be ok with cooking and finding cheap meals along the way. Also, who do you know? Do you have contacts? Would you be willing to do volunteer work in exchange for lodging? Many travelers do a work exchange with organizations across the globe such as Work Away.
AirBNB is a great and affordable option for lodging as well as International Backpacker Hostels. These options sometimes include breakfast which can add to your savings. If you’re willing to share a space with someone or opt for your own private room, you will be surprised at how much better it can be than a hotel! I enjoy this way of traveling because it provides a “local experience” and what it’s like living in the area, opportunities to meet more people, and inside information into the city and culture.
Find Cheaper Travel Options
Cheaper airfare and train fare is available if you find it at the right time. You can try different routes to avoid higher airfare costs. If you’re going to Europe, IcelandAir offers trans-Atlantic flights and you can find a flight for very cheap depending on the season. It is worth the travel time and you get to see Iceland! You can even do a “Stopover” in Iceland which I did on the way back to the U.S. from France. You can stay in Iceland for up to 7 nights with no additional airfare cost and explore the beauty, then catch your connecting flight to your next destination.
You can travel cheaply within Europe on budget airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet. I opted for a lot of train travel because it made more sense for me based on my travel time, budget, and locations. Trains and buses are great methods, and it is best to book tickets for large trains about 2-3 months in advance for the best prices. The TGV in France (high-speed train) can be taken to so many other countries as well. I took a 4 hour train trip from Lyon, France to Zürich, Switzerland and it was well worth it. There are also Euro Rail passes if you’re traveling throughout Europe which can offer big savings for the travel budget.
And last but not least, walking, biking, and metro passes within each city are the most affordable options. I love exploring cities on foot or by renting a bicycle and getting lost on purpose. It’s one of the best ways to explore and offers unique opportunities to see places that you wouldn’t wander to otherwise.
Food and Dining
When you travel, you want to enjoy the local cuisine, no doubt! Budget for that! You don’t have to miss out on amazing, local dining experiences. This can be done on any budget. Scout out the local eateries, find cheap meals, make half your lunch into dinner, buy groceries, make your own meals some days, and dine out other days. Make the most out of it! In France, bakeries and wine are both cheap, so there are advantages depending on the country you’re in. 🙂
If you’re in Paris, you have to visit the famous bakery Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger which has super affordable options for breakfast and lunch. A great dinner spot in Paris is Ma Salle à Manger which is a small local restaurant near Pont Neuf. This place had the best Beef Bourguignon and Crème Brûlée you will ever taste! So worth the visit.
If you’re traveling to another country like France, depending on the exchange rate at the time, I found it most economical to get a Currency Debit Card (or Cash Passport) through Travelex in NYC at the airport. It’s amazing because if you load a certain amount, you get more Euros for the USD, and you can reload your card at any time online for FREE. You can also withdraw cash with this card at the ATMs with your pin number just like a normal debit card. Currency exchanges can cost you a lot of money, so doing this the smartest way is important.
Stay Open and Flexible
Whatever you do, you’ll learn and be challenged, that is a guarantee. And it’s also part of the goal. To overcome obstacles, grow from the experiences, learn more about who you are and what you’re capable of, to adapt to new worlds, to be uncomfortable, to learn about a different culture. To let go and be free, to express your joy, to enjoy life and live simply. To make the most of my travels, I often adopt the philosophy of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. The most grand adventures for me have been times where I am challenged.
Your thoughts and ideas, native cultural paradigms, and routines — everything will be challenged. This is a good thing. You will get lost sometimes and go the wrong way, you will arrive at a cafe or restaurant to find out that it’s in fact closed on Mondays. Or maybe there is only lunch served from 12pm-2pm. Maybe they don’t have WiFi. Maybe they have WiFi, but not on the weekends. 😉 Maybe the bathrooms are so small that there is standing room only. It’s comical sometimes. Maybe the streets are small too and you have to dodge mopeds and bicycles. Maybe the metros are crowded some days and you get to know your neighbor.
You get the point. It’s all part of the deal. You adapt. You learn. You laugh. You change your plans. And you make the most of all of it. It’s what makes the story, the magical experience, the trip you’ll never forget, the adventure of being alive.