No matter where I am or what I do, when I have a moment, I’m looking for my next trip. I am a strong believer in creating a life you want, so when you plan something fun, you always have something wonderful to look forward to. My heart belongs to my husband, but I have a long-running successful relationship with my passport. If you ask Tom, he gets a flood of messages filled with multiple flights every day to consider. I know that many of you travel a little, and some of you travel a lot, but one thing I know most of you want regardless, is more travel! Afterall, a life well-travelled is one that feels more fulfilled. Well, I want to share my own Ultimate Guide to Traveling More Often with you on the blog today.
Our most recent trip was to Punta Cana. As you all know, we married in the Dominican Republic and were so fortunate to have close friends and family there, so we were so thrilled to return and spend some quality time together celebrating our anniversary. I packed a bag full of swimsuits and resort wear to take full advantage of the down time. While we stayed at a 5 star luxury resort this time around, we actually don’t always do so.
Unless you’re rich or have connections to the industry, chances are, you are trying to always land the best hotels and resorts at a fair price, but occasionally choosing to compromise, when it makes more sense to you. Many of you know I travel to South Florida quite often.
While my husband and I often end up going down there for work, we have a budget and spend the extra money to drive to Miami or a nearby beach for the weekend after work is done. Even when we don’t need to travel for work, we enjoy travelling often. Whether you are a solo traveller, married couple, or a family with kids, I am going to give you tips on how to travel more regularly.
The first thing people talk about is the cost of travel. Yes, there is often some cost to travel, but you do not need to make a lot of money to travel. As you had seen in my prior posts where I talk money, I always think in terms of opportunity cost. I was originally an Economics major before I went into marketing and I always think of what I would be giving up (designer bag, shoes, the new TV, etc) to have this other thing (in this case, travel), because let’s be completely honest here – we all have limited resources and cash. There are some indulgences I cut to be able to afford the life I want while saving tlso that I have a more secure future. Life is about balance. Wealth is how well you make your savings grow, not how much you earn.
When I was a young teen, around 16 years old, I remember picking up a fashion magazine and in an article aboia saving for their fashion purchases, one girl said she stopped having her 2 venti lattes at Starbucks everyday, and in 3 months she used that money to buy a pair of Louboutins. My jaw literally dropped when I read this! I mean, that was a real eye opener for me. I was already making money at my part-time job and this changed the way I spent. I started to cut back on things I cared less about to indulge in things I valued more in life. I even kept a spreadsheet to track my spending to the penny every day. In fact, the first thing airport cut is coffee and I make it at home using my Nespresso machine, which I think makes a mean cup anyways.
You need to prioritize how you want to spend your money. If you want to travel more, but don’t have the income or funds to live a luxurious lifestyle, compromising to save on things you don’t greatly value (or can easily do/consume at home) is a great way to start. Another is to partake in your fine tastes during particular periods of time instead, like dining spots during special set menu events, happy hours and late night menu specials. Like me, making your coffee or tea at home, doing your own of manicures/beauty routines and so forth. You’ll be surprised how something so small adds up so quickly!
SHORT HOLIDAYS: DAY OR WEEKEND TRIPS
When I know I can’t get away for along period of time, I look at destinations that are closer in proximity. In Florida, there are many beach towns to visit. Back in Toronto, I’d also take up to a 4 hour drive to Ottawa to visit the Nordik Spa (a favourite indulgence of mine), or visit a local town for their morning market and go hiking. There’s a lot to do if you really look. All it will cost is some gas money. If you have a family and are on a budget, pack plenty of snacks and a cooler and get ready to go. If you’re a student, you can book a seat on a bus, study on your commute (both there and back) and enjoy your destination when you arrive. Believe it or not, I did this a few times on trips from Toronto to Montreal or New York in high school and university. Don’t let it be an excuse that you don’t have the money or time. A short trip can be very as affordable and expensive as you want it to be.
The easiest trip to take is a weekender trip, especially since many of you might work office jobs and do not have to take time off, and unless you do not have access to a car, you really have no excuse. I always have essentials pre-packed and stored in my luggage. It’s always a good idea to keep a good selection of sample-sized favourites, along with essentials for red eye flights and hotel in your bag or in your make up drawer at all times so it makes it easy to quickly pack and go. If you’d like to see an essentials packing list, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to accommodate
FINDING A PACKAGE OR DEAL
Sometimes you need a bit of luck with timing and that’s where being diligent about checking for flights is important. People often ask where I find my travel deals. The list is so long that, but a few great key tips are to get alerts to changes in prices for the flights you want on price comparison sites like Kayak. If you are really on a budget and want the at-home or even a unique hotel experience, AirBNB, HomeAway or renting a local apartment for short term stay is great. When I lived in Canada I had heard of Travelzoo just launching their site, and have since used it as a great resource for finding deals. Other great deal sites are worth comparing. We recently booked our honeymoon back to Dominican Republic on Priceline because it was the cheapest of all sites. Staying on top of social media pages for travel sites are best, especially since deals end really quickly.
For all my Canadian readers, sites that are great include YYZ Deals.
For my US readers, Scotts Cheap Flights, packaged vacations can be found at Apple Vacations. For my Europe Readers, Cheap Flights is a great resource.
TRAVELING WITH FRIENDS
When you travel with a couple of friends, you save on hotel costs even when you book all-inclusive trips. This can give you the option of choosing a more luxurious accomodation and splitting the cost. If you haven’t seen my blog post on Things to Consider Before Travelling with Friends, definitely check it out here.
Finding last minute deals is an art. To score really cheap flights or error fares, you need to be flexible with dates and search over social media as you would on google. Sometimes this means booking your outgoing flight and incoming flight with different airlines. Momondo is a site that I’ve used to find a really great travel hack, but also understand there are sometimes risks involved with booking – like the airlines sometimes don’t provide the same protection on your tickets as you would if you book directly with an airline. Always double check your flights prior to booking and immediately after you receive your itinerary to ensure the dates and times are correct.
EARNING CREDIT CARD REWARDS
For as long as I could remember, I have had a credit card with rewards. Selecting one that gives cash back or points on travel are great, but I personally select the latter. Often, you’ll get a sign-up bonus as well (such as enough points to book a trip nationwide, but I personally believe in fiscal responsibility, so I’d only recommend choosing only one or 2 wisely). The points you earn can be redeemed for hotels, car rentals, flights and more. Finding one with many perks and fewest restrictions is most important for me.
RENTING YOUR SPACE OUT TO PAY FOR YOUR OWN TRIP
My friend recently went away on a 2 month long trip and decided to rent out his space. AIRBNB and HomeAway are great sources for putting up your own home for people looking for short term stay.
I have never personally done this, but I have met many travellers who have. I don’t like to be tied down to a schedule where I’m helping with daily responsibilities, but if you have plenty of time, are flexible and willing, this is definitely a great option and a couple of key websites that offer this and from my knowledge, means you get free stay in exchange for those responsibilities.
HOTEL MEMBERSHIP REWARDS
Being a loyal hotel member doesn’t usually cost anything, You can easily sign up on hotel websites and get notified when there is a hotel perk happening. Most recently Marriott had a deal where you can book 2 nights and get 1 free. I have been a Starwood Rewards member for over 14 years. Being a member often provides additional perks that you might otherwise pay for, such as room upgrades, wifi, breakfast, drinks, etc.
If you have your own tips on travelling more, I’d love to hear. Let me know some of your own in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this post and book some beautiful destinations for this year!
Photo credit to my one and only, Rise Again BJJ