Are you always on vacation? How many trips do you take a year?  These are the questions I’ve encountered since I started my travel blog. It’s clear that readers are intrigued by the frequency of our vacations and want to know how they can travel more.  Accordingly, we should discuss the five steps we took that allow us to travel frequently.

 

Overnight Travel Blogger?

 

I didn’t wake up out of the blue and decide that I was going to become a travel blogger.  There are bloggers who appear to have done so successfully, however, my journey to this destination was a marathon, hike and obstacles course all in one.

 

What does it mean to have financial freedom?  That definition is self-determined.   On the one hand, James and I have very different approaches to handling the exact same task.  At the core, we share similar traits.  We are both overachievers, hard workers and we are fiercely goal oriented.  We hold ourselves to the highest level of expectations.  I pray that we don’t impose these values too intensely on our children.  It’s those traits that have contributed to our financial freedom and allowed me to fuel my passions for travel.

#1 Be a Visionary

 

It is important to know yourself.  Once you have self-awareness you can hone in on your personal strengths and maximize them.  My personality thrives on being able to make decisions and organize things in a way that suits my vision.  I am happiest when serving others.  My career goals have always focused on those traits.

My first career advancement came when I was promoted to manager at the Spa at Evergreen.  During the week, I commuted on the train to and from Georgia State University because James and I only had one vehicle, a Toyota Corolla.   On the weekends, I worked as a licensed massage therapist.  The shifts were from 9-6pm Saturday and Sundays performing back to back 50-minute massages.  It was a physically grueling job and we stayed busy.  It was also great money for a college kid!

 

One of my mentors was my boss Amanda Garcia, she embodied a boss babe I could envision myself becoming.   She had a hands-on approach to managing while allowing her young staff room to grow and lead.  Amanda gave me a card with my first bonus check, in which she called me a visionary.  As a manager, I had put policies and practice standards in place.  We developed specials and brainstormed incentives for staff and clients.

 

To this day, I visualize myself in the places I want to be, I visualize myself conquering my goals and my visions are grand.  As I jot down notes on the places I want to travel to, I start to imprint my plan.  I believe that as I research and write the lists of vacation destinations, they become like the rest of my to-do list; a task I ultimately expect myself to complete.

#2 Spend Wisely

 

Vision or no vision we all know that it takes money to travel.  The vision alone isn’t going to cut it.  How do you travel more if you don’t have the extra cash?  Marry rich, duh.  Just kidding.  Marry a guy in finance is more true for me.  Better yet, be aware of your own finances and spend accordingly.  While we lean on James to manage our funds at home, I became financially savvy by carrying a business loan.  I was held accountable for quarterly financial reporting, personal financial statements and tracking my sales/ expenses.

 

I often laugh at the fact that we went car shopping for that Corolla we shared, in a U-Haul truck, that we moved in from Wisconsin.  Car shopping in a U-Haul truck!   How desperate does that look to a car salesman?

 

That’s just one example of how we lived within our means and sacrificed when necessary.  Back then it felt like everyone in Atlanta was stunting, in designer clothes, fancy cars and lots of gold.   My husband works in real estate and finance now.  He is brilliant at what he does but more than anything he loves what he does.  He is so passionate about his work, it’s infectious!  To sum it up, most of our lives can be found in some form of an excel budget, including our travel.

 

Get your dollars in order, line them up and plot them out.  If you spend without tracking your spending you won’t be able to save, cut or invest because you’re not aware of where your money is going.

 

 

#3 Believe in yourself and frame yourself with people who support you.

 

I’ve heard stories from women who have spouses that don’t support their ambitions and I do not understand it.  Not only do they discourage these ladies from achieving their goals but they often hinder them from even trying.  My husband brings out the best in me and I make a concentrated effort to respect his career goals in the same manner.

 

We volley back and forth allowing each other growth and fulfillment.  Last year when James pursued growth in his profession by adding some financial certifications, I took on more duties in our home to allow him time to study.  It was stressful and trying at times but he finally got notified that he passed the test and it felt like a joint effort. 

 

When I opened the spa, we took all our savings as a couple and put them into my dream.  It took years to see a profit but whenever I had doubt he gave me encouragement and taught me to have patience.  Now that we are expanding our blog and adding a line of custom products, I discussed the new venture with my husband and once again he was on board 100%.

 

#4 Research your vacations!

 

Quality over quantity does apply to vacations.  I’m tempted to book my next vacation while I am on vacation, sometimes I do that.  Nonetheless, I would rather take a few great trips than a lot of mediocre ones.  Do your research!  I rely on TripAdvisor to see traveler’s pictures and Oysters for resort reviews.  I like Kayak and Airfare Watchdog for flight price comparisons.  Kayak has a ticker in the top left that tells you if you should buy your flight now or wait.

 

When we went to Sandpiper Bay we saved money by going the week after all the spring breaks ended.  You can use the flexible date feature to find out the cheapest time to travel.  Giana is now getting into the school age where missing school counts, however, we have pulled her out of school in the past to travel at none peak periods.  Granting us a higher quality vacation for less money.

 

It’s tempting to press that button and lock in your confirmation at the first place you see within your budget but you can stretch your dollars by thoroughly researching.  Once you have a destination in mind find a blogger and read their tips.  That helped us a great deal for Disney.

 

#5 Join a vacation club!

 

If you followed first four steps to traveling more, you visualized your dream, you believed in yourself, you spent wisely and you did your research.  Now that your finances are in order, you put in hard work and made sound investments, you are ready to commit to frequent vacations.

 

James booked our 10-year anniversary trip to Eldorado Spa Resorts by Karisma, it was there that we cemented travel as a part of our lifestyle.  Ultimately buying several weeks with the Exotic Travelers membership from Karisma Hotels.  This is a new age timeshare.  With that membership, we also get RCI exchange privileges

Basically, you invest a small fortune upfront and get exclusive travel benefits and savings.  Cutting out the middleman such as Travelocity, Expedia, or Hotels.com.  These travel retailer’s markup resort stays by 50%.  The trip to Eldorado was over $5,000 for just us.  We have since traveled to Azul Beach Resort, Nickelodeon Punta Cana with our family of four for around $2,000.  We sent my mom to Hawaii and exchanged a week with RCI for her to stay in a condo in downtown Honolulu, it cost us less than $50.

 

We love that Karisma has both adult only and family vacation destinations.  We love their gourmet meals and top-shelf drinks.  If you can stick to a brand of hotels you love, you can commit to traveling and reap the benefits of your commitment.

 

 

Travel Like Us

If you would like to travel in style like us exotic travelers, call or email my friend Edmundo Livera at Exotic Travelers 800-355-0886.   Tell him you know Dione Laufenberg and he will give you our member pricing and benefits on your next trip.  You will have to agree to listen to the member presentation and you must be married or living with a partner for 2 years to qualify.

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