“So how do you do it?” A question I get asked all of the time, in some way shape or form, has finally prompted me to make a travel blog. “You have a full-time job, yet you always seem to be traveling,” I hear, time and time again. Yes, friends, this is true. I do have a job, and I do travel as often as I can.
The thing is, you can too. It’s really not that hard. I’ll let you in on a few of my “secrets” – maybe someday, they’ll be worth $15 as a digital e-book download. Until then, read up for free 🙂
1. Don’t Hesitate. Just Book It.
So you found a great deal on a flight or a hotel, but you can’t find any friends who want to go with you. Or you’re not sure if your boss will let you have the days off. While I wouldn’t encourage you to book a 2-week tour around Eastern Europe without your boss’ consent, tacking on an extra day or two to a long weekend shouldn’t require waiting for permission. What’s the worst that can happen? You have to use a sick day? Also, if I waited for my friends to go on vacation, I’d be waiting until retirement. This one has a wedding, that one has to be home for someone’s birthday, blah blah blah. Go alone, seriously. I could write a whole post about solo travel because it’s that rewarding/fulfilling/amazing of an experience. You will definitely not regret it. Plus, once you’ve got your trip booked and a friend or two does decide they can join, think of it as an added bonus.
2. Build on Existing Vacation Days
This one may seem like a no-brainer and lots of people know to do this, but you can get a seriously long vacation if you book around existing holidays, and especially long if you utilize the weekend(s). My absolute favorite holiday to use is Thanksgiving. My family doesn’t mind my absence (thanks guys!) and for the price of 2.5 vacation days, I can easily go to the other side of the world for a 9-day trip. (Thursday/Friday are given, .5 day Wednesday is given. That means you just need to ask for Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday off). If you find a great flight that leaves on Friday night right after work, and the return flight comes back on a Sunday, that right there is a long trip! (I.e. for 2017: Find an overnight flight on Nov 17, getting you to your destination on November 18. Return home on the 26th and that’s a 9 day trip for 2.5 days!)
3. Be Openminded About Your Destination
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” is a quote I hear so often pointed in my direction. I really do have a Bucket List of destinations that’s longer than there are countries on this planet. Sure, there are places I am dying to go to that I haven’t seen yet (seriously, I’ve been trying to make Iceland happen for 3 years. It will, but at the right time/price/moment/glimmer of a chance to see the Northern Lights without it being cold). I tend to ask for days off before I even have a destination in mind, and wind up going to a place that has cheap flights or a last minute deal on a group tour. I keep my options open so my wallet stretches further. All the places I want to visit, they’ll still be there for my next vacation. And besides, going on trips to destinations I didn’t always dream of visiting has only helped quadruple the list of places I do want to see. It’s the best way to learn about new things to experience, places to see, and people to meet.
4. Sometimes, The Flight Isn’t Everything
Sure, you can snag a €400 round trip flight to Europe these days, thanks to all the budget airlines flying across the pond now (it really is amazing). But once you’re there, don’t forget to factor in the costs of a hostel, drinking, transport from A to B, museum entry, lunch/dinner, etc. These costs can add up. Think about your budget for the trip holistically instead, and you’ll be surprised with some of the destinations you can visit. What once seemed too expensive or far away actually becomes a great choice. Perfect example? South America. It’s expensive to get to Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro from NYC – I’ve rarely seen direct flights below $1,000 RT, and even $1,000 is a great deal. But, let’s take Argentina for example. The Argentinian Peso to US dollar is about 16 to 1 right now. This time last year it was 8 to 1. Imagine, paying the same price for a flight, but getting DOUBLE your money on anything and everything you do there? Makes the trip seem worth it now, even with the hefty flight cost, no?
5. Be Hospitable to The Friends You Make
I always offer to let people stay with me in NYC. It’s one of those cities that everyone wants to visit and I am more than happy to help facilitate that for any of my foreign friends. Even my friends in other parts of the States. I genuinely like showing people around my city, my home, my haven for $1 pizza. But one of the best parts of that hospitality is what I get in return. Really, even just offering makes people so appreciative. In this past year alone, I spent a few days up in the Swiss Alps at a beautiful cottage in a small village, a long weekend at a flat in central London and an extra night or two in Bali at a gorgeous villa on the beach. With the exception of Bali where a friend let me crash her holiday plans, these were people letting me into their homes, friends that I have made on my travels. There are other ways to garner cheap accommodation, even beyond your own social network. CouchSurfing is a great example – a useful resource for open-minded, budget-conscious travelers. I have used it with a friend (traveling in Poland) and have also hosted a few people at my apartment in NYC, but recommend using it with caution if you are traveling alone, especially as a female, as you never want to put yourself in a dangerous situation.
Hopefully, these quick tips are enough to get your gears spinning and motivate you to start planning your next trip. I’m looking forward to sharing more tips, motivational posts, cheesy quotes, maybe some horror stories on what-to-avoid moments…stay tuned!