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  • Danielle

How to Cope When You Can't Afford a Vacation.

Tropical drink on the beach

On this Travel Tuesday, I'm here to discuss something a bit unpleasant, but all too real for most of us at certain times. That something is a BUDGET. We all have one, whether it's carefully laid out in an Excel spreadsheet or just something in the back of our mind every time we break out our debit card. There are limits to what everyone can afford, no matter how well you plan or how much money you make.

This becomes pretty depressing when you have a serious case of wanderlust. If you're like me, you spend a lot of time researching vacation destinations, reading posts from other bloggers about life-affirming trips they've taken, and even going so far as to look up airline fares for specific dates not too far in the future--you know, just in case.

It can be difficult to deal with the disappointment of being stuck at home, working hard, while your friends hop from Rome to Mexico to Alaska. If you see another photo of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by cherry blossoms, you might lose it, am I right? I hear you.

As a travel blogger, I focus a lot on vacations I've taken and the ones I'm planning. But I, like you, am grounded at my 9-5 more than eighty percent of the time. The more I explore, photograph, and write about my experiences, the more I think something is missing. And I think that something is how to cope when you CAN'T travel. When your budget is too tight to even think about airfare. When your roof is leaking and you have to cancel your trip to Aruba. When even a road trip isn't in the cards. How are you supposed to deal with the in-between times?

I don't pretend to have all of the answers, but here's some advice, because I have spent a tremendous amount of time thinking this through.

Old city street

1) Re-live old vacations.

When you're stuck at home, take the time to sort through memory cards and forgotten prints. Make an album of your last trip, and reminisce about the great experiences you had. Sure, the twinge of wanderlust may depress you a bit, but it's important to focus on the awesome things you've done, rather than just continue stacking experience on experience.

2) Live vicariously through others.

As much as it pains me to suggest it, following the photos and posts of your traveling friends on social media may help. At the very least, you can see the world through their eyes. Don't get me wrong, though. They're still tired from walking around London all day, and they have vicious sunburn from their Caribbean beach vacation. Their vacations aren't as perfect as their grams lead you to believe.

Colorful cafe

3) Take a staycation.

The staycation is highly undervalued. Checking out what there is to see in your own city can be really enlightening. I've lived in the same place for most of my life, and I love discovering new restaurants, museums, or parks. It's worth the trip, and will help remind you of why you like living where you do. Can't swing a full staycation? Explore on your days off.

4) Perfect the plan for your next trip.

You have plenty of time to plan every last detail of your next vacation (or next few). Research, read reviews, cost-compare, and talk to past travelers. If you can, start setting money aside. By the time the perfect vacation opportunity rolls around, you'll be in great shape.

5) Don't forget to live in the now.

Yes, your budget is tight. No, you can't travel now. But travel will never be the majority if your life (unless you somehow make it REALLY big in the travel blog niche or tourism industry). You have a hometown and people you care about. You might even have a career you love or a pet or a favorite place to ride your bike. There's a bar where everyone knows your name (and if you live in Boston, it might Cheers.) Those signs of home are things people spend their whole lives trying to find. If you have any or all of them already, consider yourself blessed. Plan your next vacation, yes, but embrace this time where you are "stuck" at home. Everyday life is what life is all about.


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