Quick background on how being a travel writer made a grown-up out of my travel-self.
As a young adult, I avoided planning trips because I clung to the immature notion that “we’ll find the money when the time comes.”
Sometimes we found the money, but mostly we didn’t. And living on the fly – as you know — is not a tranquil experience.
Why did I avoid planning? Solely to keep my anxiety-monster at bay.
I’d try planning a trip in advance and my anxiety-monster would be all “but it’s early January, if you plan a trip in August, what if something huge happens in June – like one of us needs surgery?” (Um, surgery? Where did that anxiety-thought come from?)
Or, . . . “If you plan a Thanksgiving trip now what if a huge hurricane hits Atlanta and levels our home?”
Seriously, my anxiety-monster had no pride. He’d throw the goofiest “worries” at me. (And I’m all for anticipating actual problems, but my anxiety-monster wasn’t even in reality.)
The Magic Ingredient
But if I wanted to be a travel writer, I quickly figured out that I needed the magic ingredient to create incredible trips: planning far in advance. And the key — in my case — was to learn to manage my anxiety-monster.
If you’ve read about our brains you know that they’re very, very smart and are always striving to keep you and me safe. (And apparently planning months in advance causes our brains to freak out.)
Here’s how I learned to soothe my anxiety-monster (ie. my brain):
Chunk down my trips
I break my trips into manageable chunks. Take my Nashville trip happening in August. I’m taking my son to a fanfest event where he gets to meet his favorite actors.
On the day after Christmas, I went onto the fanfest Twitter site and saw that they were offering 50 percent off tickets. I grabbed the awesome opportunity and saved $210 on tickets.
Chunking down our trip also includes:
- Reserving the hotel in January (before everyone and his brother tries to reserve).
- Scheduling one night to stay with a dear friend in Nashville.
- Reserving a rental car (I always use Costco Travel for the best savings).
- Planning how we’ll eat (I don’t spend a fortune on eating out).
- Researching audio books that will be fun for my son and me to hear on the four hour drive to Nashville.
Calendaring my trip-tasks
I write down everything I need to do in January, February and March to make my trip come together in late August.
Guys, I get into the nitty-gritty. I write into my calendar: book Nashville hotel for August trip, contact Lisa – my Nashville friend –, research audio books and so forth.
Every tiny detail goes into the calendar so that when August arrives, the trip is completely handled.
Identify the frogs (or what’s the ickiest part?)
It soothes my anxiety-monster significantly when I identify his biggest worries for the August trip and take action to deal with each concern.
For example, I’m no fan of Nashville summers. Nashville is hot and humid; and the last time I was there I was a sweaty mess. I calm my anxiety-monster by addressing his worry: I’ll drive to Nashville from Atlanta in the early morning and be in a pool or air-conditioning by noon each day.
There you have it: the smartest way to save money on travel is to seriously plan the heck out of your trips by first calming your anxiety-monster. Because any time you’re planning well in advance? You’re saving serious money.
I’d love to hear where you’re going in 2019 — and how you soothe your anxiety monster!
Wendy 🙂 ♥♥♥