Debt, the dreaded D word – I hate it with a passion. The very idea of paying for something long after you’ve received the full benefit from that item or experience makes me cringe. Not only is going into debt in general bad, going into debt to travel is a really bad idea.
Being in debt is one of the most suffocating feelings. The Bible says that “the borrower is slave to the lender”(Proverbs 22:7). When you owe money to a person or an institution like a credit card company, you give away some of your control. You give the other party permission to be in control over you and your finances. If you don’t pay them back the amount that they tell you to, when they tell you to, not only do they penalize you, but they can start taking away everything that you’ve worked hard for. Constantly owing money affects your happiness and prevents you from living your best life.
If you are an American born citizen like me, you were born into a culture where debt is a normal part of life. You want to go to college? Get a student loan. You want to buy a house? Get a mortgage. You want that trendy, new smartphone? Put it on your credit card. Sure, it’s very realistic to consider the fact that not everyone has cash on hand to pay for certain expenses up front, but if you keep relying on debt as a way of life, how will you ever have the cash in advance to pay for anything?
Although the experiences gained from traveling are worth any amount of money spent, never go into debt in order to travel. Yes, you may have to delay your travel plans in order to make this happen, but delaying gratification in order to make smart, proactive decisions is always a good idea. Plus, you’ll feel 100 times better when you return from your trip knowing that it has been paid in full. Traveling is only glamorous and enjoyable if you already have the money to cover the costs.
“Never spend your money before you have it.”
Creating a budget and setting a goal to have that cash on hand actually opens the door for you to have an enjoyable trip without the burden of penny pinching and questioning your expenses each time you incur them. When you set a budget, save towards a goal, and only spend the amount of money that you’ve set aside for that particular trip, you feel a sense of freedom in knowing that you’re making wise financial decisions.
So what if you’re already in debt? My advice is to take a break from traveling in order to focus on paying down the other debt that you have. Paying off your debt first will free up money that you can then use for debt-free travel. I’m a big fan of the Dave Ramsey methodology and it has changed a lot of people’s lives. Make listening to his free podcast a part of your life and you could, as Dave says, get out of debt and “change your family tree”. Click here to go to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast. Also, check out my suggestions for what do when you have the desire to travel, but can’t.
Trust me, it is 100% possible to travel without going into debt – this is an attainable goal, I am living proof of that! It just takes a little planning, a lot of self-control, and a grave desire to be in control of your own life.
So, this post tells you why you shouldn’t go into debt to travel, but how do you even save enough money to be able to travel in the first place? Check out my tips and tried and true advice for how to save for travel!