China lake picture ©2006 Jason HollandTHE SECRET TO MAKING TRAVEL A REALITY.

Over the years that we have been traveling, I have been asked many times, "how are you able to travel?How can you get away for 2 weeks each year, leave everything behind, and go to the other side of the world? How do you afford it? How can you afford to take the time?" - and yes for those of you who are wondering, this was all when we were just regular travelers like yourselves with no travel business to call our own.

The secret to making travel a reality is priority and decision. Truly. In fact it is not much of a secret. It is really about making the choice of what is important to you. Like most anything else you choose what is important for you to do and how to spend your valuable time. Do you go out to eat, do the laundry, get up on a Monday morning to go to work, take the kids to soccer, sit down to read a good book, volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters or pick up a new Redbox movie for the evening?

Travel in and of itself may not be the secret of life, but the benefits of travel as we wrote about in our articles "why travel" can help to improve our physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. In addition to our health, travel can help us gain new perspectives on the world and our fellow peoples while allowing us to learn and grow as we experience new adventures. In short, travel changes lives. Each of us work hard and that is good, but it is important to also take the time to rest. SO, here are our top three suggestions on how to make travel a reality (spoilers ahead):

1. Make traveling a priority of your time.
2. Plan well in advance.
3. Save up your money. (shocking isn't it?)

Time with the family in Baltimore, Maryland ©2012 Jason HollandThe choice of time.
We all have busy schedules and often great intentions. We want to get together with those friends whom we have not seen in over a year. We want to try out a new recipe that we just found on Pinterest. We want to volunteer in the community more. We want to be more involved in our families. We want to spend more time talking with our spouse. This year we will lose more weight, get the dishes done before going to bed, bench press 300 lbs, run a super marathon and leap small buildings in a single bound. Most of this can actually happen, but it usually does not happen. The main reason for this is that we do not make it a priority of our time. So the first step in traveling is recognize its value (if you still want some help, read "Why Travel.") and make the decision for travel to be a priority in your life. "We will get away for a weekend together. We will go to the park with the family. We will invite our friends to go to the shore with us." (We'll stop beating the poor horse and move on.)

Iron Man from Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA ©2012 Jason HollandPlanning to succeed.
So you've now decided that travel is beneficial and you know that you need to get away. You have made the decision not to just talk about how much you need to take a break. You are actually going to do it. Now, take action and choose the date or dates.

Some clients of ours really took this to heart. Busy professionals with a young daughter, they chose 12 different sets of dates over the next two years to travel. Some experiences will be local trips with their immediate family. Time to visit the extended family and two romantic vacations are also included. Think you cannot do this? Think again, it is your life after all. You have the power (we believe in you)!

Just look at the calendar as far out as necessary to find an open spot and pencil, mark, type, plaster, carve and scratch your vacation time into the chaos of life. This can be 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 years ahead of time - whatever you need to make it happen. Of course you can take last minute trips however it is usually best to plan at least 6 months to 1 year in advance depending upon your expectations and desired experience both for better availability and cost. (For example, cruises typically offer the most complimentary amenities 1 year or more in advance of the sailing date). Once your time is planned you can let all the necessary people know that this is your time, not theirs. Tell you boss, notify your clients, post to your Facebook page that your business will be closed, nail your door shut, turn off your cell phone, set your vacation reminder..... Basically do whatever you need to do to protect your time that you have chosen to set aside.

Save some dough.
Cookie dough is good to save. Put some in the freezer and you can pull it out later. Bake it up for a deliciously warm bit of sugary, chocolatey goodness. Travel works the same way. Save some money away and you can go and experience the world one bite at a time.

Curiously, when you have made something a priority of your time, it also becomes a priority for your budget and your money. "But travel it so expensive!" Remember that travel can be gazing at the colorful fish underneath the overwater bungalow in Tahiti but it can also be a camping trip to Watkins Glen in New York or a weekend adventure in Washington, DC. Here are some suggestions on how to save for travel. (Yes, this is basic and yes it is common knowledge but sometimes we all just need a friendly reminder.)

1. Do not over extend yourself financially in the other areas of your life. If you have a huge house which makes it difficult to pay the bills or a super fancy car or a fantastic collection of jewelry, your extra money may be going there (big surprise). Just realize it and adjust as necessary.

2. Consider smaller gifts. Make homemade gifts or scale back on the amount that you purchase for celebrations. Write a love letter, spend quality time or even do a special presentation of travel AS a gift. For years one of the big ways we were able to travel to Asia and the South Pacific was because Sandy and I did not buy much for each other for Christmas or birthdays. Instead we looked forward to the time we would have traveling the world together.

3. Put some money aside. Open a separate savings account with your local bank or credit union. Have them automatically take a bit from each pay check to put into the separate account and use it as your travel fund.

Relaxing in Bar Harbor Maine ©2011 Jason Holland4. Adjust your spending. Instead of going out to eat 2 times a month or week or day, cut it back to one time. Maybe buy some steaks and grill them at home instead of going out. Rent a movie once in a while instead of going to the theater. Check out the Salvation army for a new shirt or simply wait until there is a sale to pick up your new pair of jeans. Take the extra money and put it in that separate account and do not leave it out on the counter at home or in your pocket. You will spend it.

5. Reduce your costs. Energy deregulation is now in effect. You can shop for the best value in electricity and gas (Travel Simplicity can help if you so desire). Check your cable bill to see if you still want all the stations. Perhaps satellite is a better fit. Maybe you can combine your internet, cable and phone for a package price. Check new providers for your cell phone service and consider if you really need the data plan for your iPad.

6. Talk with a financial advisor. There are lots of people whose job is to help you remain financially secure, both now and in the future. They help to establish goals, and create monetary space to do the things you desire. Get started early, and they are a great resource throughout your life.

Pristine sugar white beach in Turks and Caicos, Caribbean: Photo ©2012 Jason HollandShut up already.
Things can always happen. Accidents occur, time passes us by, we forget important occasions, we lose jobs, and more. BUT, if we plan ahead and make it a priority of our time and our money, often we will find that indeed we can travel. We will step off our soapbox and stop blabbering but first -

Go look at your calendar and pick some dates to get away. Then start dreaming of walking on pristine sandy beaches, breathing in the crisp mountain air, kayaking down a swift moving river, enjoying the local tacos at a roadside stand, perusing some precious art and savoring the time you have to appreciate this life we are generously given with the people you love.