My first trip out of the U.S. spawned my passion for travel. At 17, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Finland as part of the Youth for Understanding program. While I’d traveled to Disney World and lots of other road trips growing up, my trip to Finland was not only my first time traveling abroad but also my very first time on an airplane.
In Finland, I was initially out of my comfort zone because there were not many people who looked or talked like me. However, being fully immersed in a culture that was different from anything I’d been exposed to turned out to be a transformative experience. I was among others who shared a common passion: We all wanted to learn more about the world outside of what we knew.
It can be expensive to travel, and funding can sometimes seem out of reach. Still, planning your budget with room for a vacation can be very rewarding—and sometimes necessary,given the daily demands we all face. While you might be unable to travel abroad, or outside of driving distance, there are ways to make affordable travel a realistic possibility.
Like many things in life, sometimes there must be trade-offs. One of my biggest tradeoffs is spending less on depreciable assets (like cars and clothing) so that I can direct more money toward travel.
My children also like to travel, and we’ve been fortunate to have them explore the world with us — but not without trade-offs. Throughout the year, they sacrifice toys, video games and other “extras” for the promise of a vacation.
While I continue to learn new things about where to travel, how to get the best deals, when to travel and the best places to travel with kids, here are a few tips I have gleaned from experience:
If your financial situation doesn’t allow you to travel outside of your local area, take advantage of other options that expose you to the world, like day trips, TV programs (I love HGTV’s House Hunters International), books, magazines and museums.
Michelle Thornhill is senior vice president, diverse segments for Wells Fargo & Company. Visit www.wellsfargo.com for more information.