ONE of the biggest spending trends today is travel. Sure. Who doesn’t long to see the world? Who wouldn’t want to experience the wonders of learning and immersing yourself in another culture? Who wouldn’t want to meet new people? Who wouldn’t want to collect photos and memories beyond his hometown?

If only travel was free. If only we had unlimited funds. If only we all get paid just to travel, take photos, and write about them.

Traveling is a beautiful goal. There is nothing wrong with traveling. It widens your perspective and provides you with the most wonderful experiences.

The problem starts when it becomes an obsession to outdo your friends. The suffering comes when you sacrifice your savings or your emergency funds just to grab a travel promo, not thinking that you will also need to spend for accommodations, food, tour tickets and passes.

The regrets come when you have to face penalty and finance charges for an overdue credit card payment because you either impulsively chased after the seat sale or you got bitten by the “vacation happiness bug” and splurged away on food and shopping.

Taking a step back to reflect on what travel means to you may help balance the pull of reality and the push of that explorer’s dream.

1. Do you even want to go there?

Some of us clamor to immediately book trips on sale to go to places that we don’t even want to go. If you’re on a budget, it might make sense to list down your top ten life destinations.

Most of us won’t be able to circle the globe in our lifetime even if we wanted to. So maybe it might help to think about specific places that on your deathbed you will regret not visiting and focus on getting there before other places.

2. Does it have to be now?

Does it have to be this year when you’re still paying for a debt? Does it have to be this month when you just made a down payment to your car or house? Does it have to be now when you haven’t even received your commission?

Talk about counting the chicks before they even hatched, or in a lot of cases, traveling abroad when all you can afford is a travel to your backyard.

Our country is blessed with beautiful beaches and rich culture and tradition. If all you could afford is a local trip, then so be it. After all, most of the time it’s not the actual place but the company you share it with and the memories you make together. There’s a proper place, time, and budget for everything.

3. Can I get more from my travel?

Even if the place is not on your top 10 list and an opportunity opened up, find out if you can insert some learning experiences, visit friends, or make business connections. Take home more than just souvenirs.

Instead of foodie trips or shopping, maybe you can join short courses or classes, explore exhibits, be a volunteer for a day, and connect with family or people who may be in the same organization as you are in. You get to enjoy while contributing to humanity.

Traveling with a purpose is a mindful exercise of putting more meaning to your journey. It makes you take control over what you really want to happen and not just be influenced by marketing strategies and bandwagon mentality.

More than mere adventure-seeking or physical satisfaction, it would put a conscious soul into your travel.