How I’m Using Travel as Motivation to Pay Off Debt

pay off debt

using travel as motivationI just got back from a cross-country trip to visit one of my friends last week and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t exhausted.

Travel really takes it out of me and if I’ve learned anything about myself by traveling it’s that I have to schedule some down-time in my planner for the day after I get back. I usually end up with a blinding headache from lack of sleep, or as my adrenaline decreases since the excitement of an upcoming trip is now gone.

Even though I know I’ll have to deal with this consequence, I can’t wait to go on another trip. But I still have my debt to contend with?and I don’t want to put it on the back burner forever.

Using Travel as Motivation to Pay Off Debt

That’s why my budget coach and I decided I should try using travel as motivation and a reward for making big progress toward paying off my debt in the next couple of months.

How big? I’m going to pay off my largest credit card balance of just over $2,000 by May 1st.

I’m a little nervous to be putting this out there for the world to see, especially since I’ve failed at so many financial goals in the past. But this time I’ve very excited to pay off my credit card because of the impending reward of travel.

Planning My Trip

I already know where I want to go for my next cross-country trip. I’m going to visit one of my best friends who moved to the Portland area a couple of years ago.

I’ve priced out the airfare and I know I can save a lot of money?by crashing on my friend’s couch, or air mattress. This will help make my next trip pretty frugal, but it’s still an “extra” expense that I can’t justify unless I meet my goal of paying off my credit card. If you don’t have an option to crash with friends, you can always use Expedia?to find discounted rates for lodging and travel.

Daily Reminders to Save Money

One of the best things about using travel as motivation?for paying off debt?is that it’s a fairly short-term goal. I’ve realized that I don’t do well with long-term goals as I tend to lose sight of them, and their rewards, along the way.

In order to help me keep this goal, and the reward, in mind between now and May 1st I’ve done a few things to help me remember to save money and make debt a top priority:

  • Daily Affirmations – I have a list of daily affirmations that I read aloud to myself every morning. It’s just a short list of seven sentences pertaining to my financial goals and the rewards for completing them. I have the list posted on the bulletin board in my office so I see it every day.
  • Visual Reminders of My Reward – Next to my daily affirmations I have several photos of Portland (where I want to go), of my friend Sarah (whom I’m going to visit), and of past travel excursions I’ve taken. This is a visual reminder of what I’m working toward and it helps me remember that what I’m giving up (like ordering a pizza) is so I can get something much better (travel).
  • Accountability – Finding accountability is one of the make or break parts of my plan. I’m definitely the type of person that needs accountability to help me stay on track with my goals. This is why I’ve told my budget coach about my plan, and why I’m blogging about it here. The more people I tell about my goal to pay off debt and travel, the harder it will be for me to give up on it. This is because I hate disappointing people or telling them I’ve failed. Accountability really helps me put my competitive nature to good use.

I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work over the next couple of months, but I can’t wait to say I’ve achieved my goal of paying off $2,000 by May 1st. Plus?using?travel as motivation and a reward is definitely something?that will help keep me going?when times get tough.


Do you reward yourself for financial progress? What would your reward be? Do you suffer from wanderlust and the desire to travel?


Photo courtesy of: keulefm

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  1. Rewards are always a great way to keep on track. Our goals are usually a little more frantic, so we don’t get to set up too many rewards. But last year, the promise was a dog — once we had saved up for the dental implants and actually had them done. (I’m *not* taking care of a puppy alone while he’s drugged up/weary from a liquid diet.)

    There are a few things that need to happen — including us getting back into actually plumping up savings, despite a recent cut in income — but we’re on our way. So that’s a reward to look forward to. An exhausting, excitable, adorable reward.

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