Ask The Travel Coach: Saving For a Dream Trip

Lost in the Mail — By on January 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Saving for TravelWelcome back to our newest monthly feature, Ask the Travel Coach! Life Sabbatical Coach Tara Russell has joined the Lost Girls team to act as our resident Travel Coach in Residence to answer questions from readers in our brand-new monthly feature. Readers will submit questions here, and one will be answered in each month’s column. Here’s January’s question, with a focus on saving for travel.


Hi Tara,

I really want to take time off to travel but need some guidance around finances and how to save for a longer-term trip.  Can you give me some inspiration and creative ideas for getting started? – Lauren D., Springfield, MA

Tara’s Response:

Lauren, I love that you’re bringing this up because I know you’re speaking for many of our readers!  When it comes to taking time off for a long-term travel adventure, there are certain pre-trip objections and uncertainties that I hear so often that I consider them the “old standards”.  Money (or, more specifically the perceived lack thereof) definitely tops that list for many would-be world wanderers.  That said, getting your finances in order for a global vagabonding experience doesn’t have to be painful – in fact, it can even become a fun part of the adventure!  Read on for some tips to get you started…

Keep Track
Have you ever taken a look at where your money goes?  (And I mean really, really taken a look?)  If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably “no”.  But taking time off for a long-term travel sabbatical is all about getting clarity about your current circumstances and being mindful about your actions so you can meet big goals so get ready…it’s time to track.

For two weeks, keep track of all of your spending…every morning latte, every impulse Groupon purchase, every drinks-with-the-girls evening out.  Afterwards, sit down and look at where your money is going and get a real handle on your budget.  Do a spreadsheet for your monthly expenses and figure out what you really need every month and what is just optional.  Find the leaks in your budget (daily Starbucks run, anyone?) and plug them.  Be honest with yourself and do this with your trip in mind – will you really be wearing those Jimmy Choos when you’re hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal?  If not, skip ‘em.  Tightening the proverbial belt may seem like a sacrifice at first but let your enthusiasm for the bigger goal drive you and remember that when you’re watching the sunset over Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janiero, you’re not going to miss that grande half-caff extra-hot no-foam cappuccino one bit. 

Get The Big Picture
When it comes to inspiration, visuals help – so put them to work supporting you as you save for your travels!  Here’s how:

1. Make your wallet “travel friendly” by tucking a photo of a desired travel destination into your wallet where you can see it and then look at it every time you reach for your credit card or cash.  Ask yourself if that purchase is really necessary and, if not, skip it!  (Fun twist: One of my clients took this tip a step further and used the Capital One Card Lab to print a photo of the Taj Mahal directly on her credit card so that every time she felt like splurging on an impulse purchase, she could be reminded of the real goal and save for her trip instead.)

2.  Put together a Vision Board that can become a repository for images related to your trip that will help you stay inspired about your preparations (and motivated to save!)  If you’re a tactile person who likes hardcopy work, you can start with a bulletin board or poster board and clip images from travel mags, newspapers, etc.  If you’re more of a web maven, check out Pinterest.

Lighten the Load
This one is a two-birds-with-one-stone gem…  On the road you’re going to need more money and less, well, stuff.  So take a gander around your apartment and start weeding through what you can live without.  Over the years I have had clients sell off clothes, books, accessories, audio equipment, cars, furniture, you name it.  eBay, Craigslist and other online marketplaces are amazing resources for liquidating belongings that you no longer need (and let’s face it…don’t want to have to pack and leave in storage) and can help you make some extra travel cash to boot.  That designer bag you never carry?  Dig it out of the back of your closet…it could be worth a whole week of travel during your trip!


Tara Russell, CPCC, CDC is a “Life Sabbatical & Long-term Travel Coach” – a Certified Life and Career Coach with a passion for working with clients who dream of taking time off to travel, live, work, study or volunteer abroad. As the Founder and President of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting, her mission is to empower her clients to transform their lives (and ultimately the world at large), through meaningful international travel experiences.  She is widely considered to be a national thought leader on the topics of career breaks and travel sabbaticals and has been featured in myriad online and print media outlets including New York Magazine, USA Today Travel, The Huffington Post, Travel & Leisure, The Christian Science Monitor and

If you’re ready to take your travel dreams down off the shelf and make them happen, contact Tara TODAY – she’ll get you off the couch and on the plane!

Thumbnail courtesy of Alex in Wanderland.

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