Prepare to Travel with Wander The Map
Our eleventh installment of our ongoing series, Prepare to Travel, is with Jenna of Wander The Map. Jenna, along with her husband, Micah, share their travel experiences and provide tips and inspiration for others. Always up for an adventure, they travel as much as their schedules allow to capture the world through photos, videos, and words. Join us as we learn how to prepare to travel with Wander The Map.
AfterGlobe (AG)-We hear again and again, how people can’t believe that others are able to travel the world in abundance or long term. Many can’t even imagine doing this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about traveling and how you are able to do something so many consider a luxury?
Wander The Map (WM): I currently have a full time job, so I get many questions about how I manage to fit in so much traveling with only 13 days of vacation per year. We don’t travel near as much as we would like to, but by taking advantage of holidays such as Memorial Day, and planning trips to include a weekend on both ends, we can extend our trips a little. We recently took an 11 day vacation and I only had to take 6 days off of work–not amazing, but it helps. We take a lot of weekend trips as well.
We also get questions about how we can afford to travel so much–our answer: we hardly pay for any of our plane tickets or hotels! Collecting airline miles and hotel points can be tedious, but when your trips biggest expense costs next to nothing it’s hard not to do it and it leaves more money for fun activities!
AG- When did you first start thinking about traveling? What changed from dreaming about it to actually making it happen?
WM: I’ve loved to travel my whole life–I was lucky to have a family that traveled, so I became addicted at a young age. Even though I traveled around the USA while growing up, I didn’t take my first trip out of the country until I was in college. In my adult life, I have made travel a priority–I plan, save, and research which in turn makes my dreams a reality.
AG- Once you decided you were going to travel, what did you do to start working towards making it a reality? Did you make a plan or budget?
WM: We always make a rough plan and budget. We don’t always stick to a strict budget, but having some guidelines helps us keep our spending in check. As far as planning, I find that if we leave things up to chance too much, we would end up paying more because we lack the flexibility to find a good last minute deal. We usually plan our trips in advance because it allows us to redeem miles for basically free flights.
AG- Whenever you make a plan to travel, how long is it from that point to the time you leave?
WM: Since we don’t travel full time and my vacation time from work isn’t very flexible, most of our vacations are planned pretty far in advance, like around 9 months for a weeklong vacation. I may plan too far ahead of time, but it has allowed us to plan some awesome trips for a very affordable price, such as all lodging and transportation for a weeklong trip to Ireland for $250 per person. Also, some trips are planned on a whim when we find a good deal!.
AG- $250 per person is awesome! I wondered how you were able to visit Iceland. What do you do to save up enough money before you leave? Any advice that you think will help others save for traveling?
WM: I always find that by comparing the cost of something I want to buy to how it relates to travel costs, helps me keep from spending money on unnecessary items. If you compare a $100 pair of shoes to a week of lodging in a beach bungalow in Thailand for roughly the same price, the week of lodging suddenly seems more affordable and the shoes a lot more expensive. For this reason alone (although there are many others as well), I don’t think I could ever spend $100 on a pair of shoes! This tactic works well for small things too, like say I could see a $10 movie or climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower in Paris for basically the same price. I’d pick the Eiffel Tower or an activity like that any day.
Also finding cheaper alternatives helps, such as skipping that movie in the theater and renting it later from Redbox for $1, or making coffee at home instead of buying from Starbucks. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but little changes really add up over time.
AG- How do you figure out how much you need to save to travel? Do your savings end up being enough? Should you have saved more or less?
WM: I always research a destination and try to come up with an estimate about what we will spend before we leave, and then add a little cushion to that. Honestly, I don’t think we ever save as much as we would like to, but we work with what we have and it may mean we have to eat cheaper food or skip an activity, but with some planning it all ends up working well in the end. I think having realistic ideas and an understanding of what is important to you when you travel can help when deciding where to cut expenses and where to splurge.
AG- Many times when reading travel blogs, we find ourselves thinking that we need to buy a bunch of things to be able to travel. Have you experienced this? What things do you now realize that you didn’t really need? Any recommendations on what really is needed?
WM: I have a bad habit of thinking I need to buy numerous items before we go to a new destination. Less is more–I hate lugging too much around with me. One item that has been a great purchase was our waterproof hiking shoes because we love hiking and being active. Another tip we find useful is packing clothes that can be layered with a light scarf–packing this way is more versatile and you are ready for almost any weather. I have found I don’t need big, bulky clothing items or more than 2 pairs of shoes.
AG- What has been the most difficult for you while preparing to travel?
WM: The most difficult thing for us when preparing to travel is saving money. We aren’t as disciplined at saving as we should be, but we have found by making smaller goals we are better able to achieve them!
AG- Do you have any additional advice for those who want to travel the world, but haven’t?
WM: Make traveling a priority in your life and then go for it–don’t wait. Travel doesn’t always need to be all or nothing. Even if you don’t have ample amounts of time or money, plan a trip that works within your restrictions. It doesn’t matter if you want to travel full time or would rather travel sporadically, make a goal and work towards it. I always say that even a short trip is better than no trip at all!
Thank you very much to Jenna and Wander The Map for doing a Prepare to Travel interview with us today. Be sure to head over to Wander The Map to read all about Jenna and Micah’s adventures on their travels.
What do you do to prepare to travel?
All photography provided by Wander the Map.