Today's travel post comes from Dawn at Book & Brew and she shares with us how she got out of her travel rut! Enjoy jet setters!
I've been a traveller for years. I'm always asked "are you going away again?" and I have a reputation amongst my friends and family for owning a pair of very itchy feet.
But, my recent travels have become a little similar and I need to find a way to get out of my travel rut.
Where it all began
I've always loved adventures but would refer to my early years as a holidaymaker rather than a traveller. That all changed in 2012.
When my gran died she left me £1,000. That may not sound like a lot to many people, it may seem like a fortune to others, but it was priceless to me. I didn't want to spend it on fixing up the kitchen, redecorating the bathroom or putting it towards any other improvements that might increase the equity in my flat: I wanted to invest in me.
I'd had a rough year dealing with my gran's illness, and juggling redundancy threats and job hunting in my working life. I wanted to get away, to take a break from my life and restore myself. So, I took my £1,000 into STA Travel on St Mary's Place in Newcastle and booked myself onto a European Getaway. 20 days. 10 countries. One coach. 40 unknown travel companions. Me.
It was pretty daunting to head off on my own. This was my first solo travel experience but I felt confident that I'd be OK once I got there. I jumped on a plane to London, stayed overnight in a hostel and joined my bleary-eyed bus buddies in the lobby at 6:30am the next morning to board our coach for Dover.
The following three weeks were unbelievable. A new country every other day, all oozing with culture, great food, art, sunshine, wine, beer, more wine and more beer. I loved it and successful completed my evolution from holidaymaker to traveller.
I met my partner Stephen not long after my return and one of things that helped us click instantly was a shared love of travel. Stephen was just starting a social work degree so money was tight and it forced me to become adept at bargain hunting.
We've managed to accrue a pretty impressive travel back catalogue in our three and a half years together: Berlin, Maderia, Amsterdam, Dublin, Malta, Sicily, Barcelona, Florence, Krakow, Geneva, Croatia, Prague. And, we're heading to Paris for New Year. Ooh la la.
Did you notice the pattern? Yep, that's right. All of our trips have been in Europe.
We've seen some beautiful countries and wonderful sites but we're getting a little bored with our Euro travels. Balancing the books with an insatiable urge to travel is tricky, though, so how are we going to break out of this travel rut?
What happens next?
So, if I'm to visit the places I want to see outside of Europe I need to change my travel habits. Australia, Cuba, Bali, New Orleans, Morocco and Canada have been on my to-do list for a while but they're not going to come to me.
To get there, I need to keep focused, get saving and follow these five rules to stay on track:
1. Read and research: Reading about a place is a sure-fire way of making me want to visit it. Surrounding myself with books, maps, travel guides, magazines and websites about my chosen destination will keep my eyes on it and stop them wandering onto nearby spots on the continent.
2. Save separately: One of the main reasons I've been to Europe so often is that it's relatively cheap and easy to get there. But, I need to move away from this little and often approach and save up for the long-haul trip. I've set up a separate savings account so my holiday funds go straight in there every pay day - I'm not touching it until I book my flights (promise).
3. Staycation: The travel bug will rear its head while I'm saving, of that I'm certain. I can't cave in and book a European mini-break if I want to explore the rest of the world. Instead, I'll be opting for staycations and checking out the fantastic places on UK shores. I may not get great temperatures but I'll get to explore and escape for a fraction of the price.
4. Tighten up: If I want to accelerate my savings and get to my destination quicker, I need to make savings everywhere. I'll be looking at my household bills, clothes buying and other spending to see where I can cut down and add to my holiday fund.
5. Christmas present: Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year? Me neither. This year, I'm going to ask for contributions to my travel fund instead of gifts. I don't need any more books, PJs or toiletries - I'd rather boost my savings and put those pennies towards my next adventure.
So, if I follow these rules, stick to my savings plan and avoid distractions, I should be able to break out of my European travel rut in no time. There's a big world out there and I want to see it.