Affording that Summer Trip
Summer is now in full swing; birds are singing, skies are clear and everything is green! I’m now just a couple weeks out from my first half marathon. Back when I first established this goal in December, I could not confidently tell you that I would accomplish the task. However, through this experience, I’ve learned the power of making the initial commitment. I just completed my second-to-last long distance run of 11 miles. Next weekend I will reach 12 miles, followed by a week of rest until race day on July 4th.
While I have been keeping up with my health goals, I have decided that I won’t be traveling to a foreign country this year due to limited funds. Instead, I am flying Stewart and I to Washington, DC and NYC in early August. Stewart hasn’t been to either of these places and I’ve never seen our nation’s capitol. To make this trip possible, I’m relying on the generosity of my pals that are located in these areas. Besides saving money, the travel experience is much better when you have a chance to see old friends.
I had originally wanted to fly to Shanghai to visit my sister, but with flights hovering near $2k or more it was out of question. Since I wanted to bring my better half with me on the trip, I found tickets for our 9 day, east coast journey totaling $900.
I wanted to emphasize the dollar breakout here because for the vast majority of people, it is possible to travel even if you don’t make a ton of money. Stewart is a full time student, I have $20k+ in student loans and most recently took on a $50k mortgage. I make it work with a take home income around $35k, which isn’t outside the reach of the average American. I choose not to have children because I enjoy the freedom from responsibility and monetary obligations which allows me to pursue my interests like traveling (having children doesn’t mean you can’t travel, but it makes it more difficult). While my mindset could change down the road, I’m confident that it could very well stay the same for the rest of my life. People that choose to remain childless are not selfish or less than those that do bring offspring into the world, we just have different priorities. Check out this great opinion piece from the NYT, “Think Before You Breed“.
If you’re still with me, the catch is you need to plan for it. A lot of people that tell me they could never afford to travel spend their income on things that they don’t take into account, such as eating out at restaurants (including fast food), drinking expensive coffee and going out to bars where they drink expensive beers and cocktails. Although I also partake in these activities, I track them so I know when to dial it back.
The money I have available for travel is made possible by living without a car and making a budget. If you exercise some restraint in other areas, you will be able to save up for the opportunity to see and experience an unfamiliar place within a short period of time.
Adventuring into the unknown can take place in your own backyard as well. In an effort to get out and explore my neighborhood, I signed up to volunteer this morning for Nice Ride (the Twin Cities non profit that runs our extremely successful local, bike share program) at a local music and art festival.
It was a really fun experience chatting with people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds that were interested in learning about the bike share program. As an added bonus I got a free snazzy t-shirt and cycling hat for my efforts. If you live in the Twin Cities you should really give the bike share a spin, everyone seemed to love it’s convenience once they tried it out, especially people visiting from other cities.
The subscription based pricing allows you to pay a fixed cost for access to the bikes for $6 day/$30 month/$65 year ($55 if you are a student) with unlimited rides up to 30 minutes. After that there is a incremental fee charged for keeping the bike past the initial 30 minutes without checking it back in. Nice Ride improves our community because the people are healthier, there is less pollution and roads are less congested. Here at Minimal-ism, we love it when you get multiple benefits from a simple adjustment.