“I want to travel more this year.” This is a statement that I hear so many people make. I can fully attest that this statement is easier said than done. We all have bills to pay, limited time off from work, and other obligations that are stopping us from traveling more.
I’ve traveled to 87 countries and people always tell me that I’m lucky because I’m able to travel freely. I usually follow that statement with an explanation about how I’ve designed a life that allows me to travel more and that I created my own luck. Traveling the world isn’t something that exactly fell into my lap.
All of us dream about laying on the beautiful beaches of Thailand or cozying up in a cabin in the mountains in Switzerland. At some point, we have to turn those travel dreams into a reality.
As I say all the time, I’m here to help you travel more. If you’re reading this, YOU have the ability to travel more this year. Here’s the secret sauce — you have to make travel a priority. I understand that not everyone has the life goal of traveling the way I do and that’s totally okay. I don’t know what your circumstances are, but what I do know is that you’re fully capable of traveling more.
If you want to travel more, you can make it happen for yourself. I believe in you. Here are twelve realistic tips and tricks that will help you travel more if you implement them.
1. Change Your Mindset
You have to change your mindset if you want to travel more this year. This is non-negotiable. In fact, learning how to travel has less to do with finding the best deals and more to do with your mindset.
So many of you keep saying that you’re going to travel more this year, but you actually don’t end up doing it. Setting goals is only useful if you’re going to follow through and make it happen. Less talking, more doing. Instead of coming up with twenty reasons why you can’t travel more this year, come up with twenty reasons why you can.
Create a vision board. Cut out photos from a travel magazine and glue them to your vision board. Then, put the vision board somewhere where you can see it a few times a day. Also, change the screensaver on your phone to one of the places on your bucket list. Every time you get on your phone, you’re reminded of your travel goals.
Lastly, ditch the excuses for why you can’t travel and replace them with actions you’re going to take to get to the dang beach this year. You can do it!
2. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
If you want to travel more, it’s mandatory that you ditch the unnecessary expenses and save as much money as you can. When I realized that I wanted to travel the world, I stopped splurging on silly things.
You don’t need to go to the nail salon once a month. You also don’t need to buy coffee from Starbucks every single day. Learn to recycle your outfits so you don’t waste money on clothes every season.
I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet and tracking your spending for a month to determine what you’re wasting money on. Say “no” to purchasing things that are going to hinder you from traveling. You’ll be surprised to see how much money you could be saving every month that you could be putting towards travel instead.
3. Look for Deals on Flights
Keep an eye out for cheap flights in your spare time. I used to look for flight deals at work during my breaks. Sometimes, you can find some irresistible deals.
However, keep in mind that just because you find cheap flights doesn’t mean you should always book them. Make sure that you really want to visit this place and that it’s affordable to travel around once you get there. For example, you find cheap roundtrip flights to San Francisco for $400. But, your accommodation, food, and sightseeing will cost you $1000 for a few days. In my opinion, that’s not justifiable.
I use Skyscanner and Kiwi.com to search for cheap flights. My favorite thing about these two websites is that you can see where the cheapest places are to fly to once you put in your dates. They also don’t have any hidden taxes and fees.
If you don’t want to be on the hunt for cheap flights, you can sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights. Sign up for an account, pick your departure airports, and keep an eye on your inbox for cheap deals. They have a free version and a paid version. I’ve used their free version before and was quite impressed with it. A few of my friends paid for the premium version ($49 per year) and said it was totally worth it.
4. Sign up for Accommodation Rewards Programs
I’ve signed up for so many hotel rewards programs during my two years of travel. I’ve gotten so many free nights with Marriott. I recently went to the Maldives and stayed in an overwater villa completely free because of all the points and my loyalty status I have with Marriott.
If you prefer staying in hotels, I highly recommend Hotels.com. They have an amazing rewards program — stay ten nights and get a night free. I used Hotels.com a lot in Southeast Asia and earned heaps of free nights. You can read more about their loyalty program here.
Hotels aren’t always going to be your cheapest option. Sometimes, Airbnb comes in real handy. We only stayed in Airbnbs when we were traveling in Europe. They were nicer and cheaper than hotels. I actually prefer renting an apartment sometimes. It feels more like home and you feel more like a local rather than just a tourist. If you’re new to Airbnb, sign up here using this link and you’ll receive up to $52 off your first booking.
5. Travel During Low Season
Following this one simple travel rule is going to save you a bunch of money. Traveling to destinations during low season will save you lots of money and allow you to travel more this year.
Not only will your destination be less crowded, but hotels and airfare will be cheaper too. For example, peak season in Europe starts around June and lasts until the end of August. If for some crazy reason, you decide to travel to Europe during this time, you can expect to pay a premium on accommodation, airfare, and tours.
I would much rather go during low season and ball on a budget. I can then use those savings for another trip later in the year.
6. Create a Travel Budget and Stick to It
Before you go anywhere, you need to create a travel budget. You can’t just book your flights and blindly spend money after that. You need to decide how much you’re willing to pay for accommodation, food, tours, and other things. If you need help creating a travel budget, you can grab my free printable here.
Once you determine your travel budget, stick to it. I know it’s tempting to splurge a little during your trip and that’s okay. But, splurge in moderation. If you splurge too much, you won’t have any money left to go on another trip later in the year. I would much rather pinch pennies where I can to be able to afford another trip later on.
7. Travel to Cheap Destinations
Yes, we all want to go to Bora Bora for a vacation. However, that kind of vacation costs quite a bit of money. I’m not ready to blow all of my travel savings on one destination.
Traveling to cheap destinations will save you heaps of money. I recommend traveling to places where your currency is stronger than the anticipated destination’s currency. For example, London is quite pricey for Americans. However, anything in Central America and most countries in South America is cheaper for Americans. Better yet, Asia is cheap for Americans, Canadians, and Europeans.
We went to London and Paris for our honeymoon and we had so much fun. However, I wish we would have spent time in Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe. We could have saved a lot of money and used that on another vacation later in the year. I don’t regret it though. I saw the Eiffel Tower with the love of my life and that’s one of my favorite travel memories.
8. Explore Your Own Backyard
Often times, we get so excited about exploring the world that we forget to explore our own backyard. Who said you have to catch a flight halfway around the world in order to travel?
Be a tourist in your own city or town. If you’re running low on vacation time or you can’t afford a vacation at the moment, this is a great option. I didn’t realize how many hidden gems Oklahoma City had until I started exploring one weekend. I barely scratched the surface of what my own home city has to offer. You’ll be surprised to see how many fun things you can do and explore right where you are.
9. Use Your Weekends to Travel
As tempting as it can be, don’t just be a couch potato all weekend. Go out and explore. Yes, you totally deserve a few days to just chill out after a long week of work. But, you’re losing prime vacation time.
Two days is more than enough time to do a small road trip or even jump on a plane to a neighboring state or country. If you can leave work early on a Friday and come in later on Monday, you’ve hit the weekend trip jackpot.
There are 104 Saturdays and Sundays in the year for you to explore. Use them.
10. Use Your PTO
This isn’t rocket science, but I had to include this in this post. Apparently, some people don’t use all of their vacation days. Crazy, right?!
You worked hard for your PTO. Therefore, use it. Not using your PTO days is like giving your employer back a portion of your money. Don’t give away money that rightfully belongs to you.
Don’t let your supervisor make you feel guilty for taking time off that you worked hard for. The very first boss I had after I graduated college was awful and made everyone feel guilty for using their vacation hours. That’s a whole different story though. Bottom line, use your time off and come back rejuvenated to work.
11. Sign up for Travel Rewards Credit Cards
There are heaps of amazing travel rewards credit cards that you can take advantage of. If you struggle with credit card debt, please do not do this.
I religiously use my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and my Marriott credit card through Chase. These two cards are my absolute favorite.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is an incredible premium credit card. As a signup bonus, you get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4000 on purchases within three months of getting the card. That’s $750 in free travel. Plus, they give you an annual credit of $300 to put towards travel. That basically covers the annual fee for the card. You can read more about the card and apply for it here.
I’ve also used the American Express Platinum card and I do not recommend it at all. The annual fee of $550 is outrageous and the benefits aren’t as good as Chase’s.
12. Take Advantage of Free Stopovers
Taking advantage of stopovers is so underrated and underutilized. A stopover is essentially stopping in another city before proceeding to your final destination. You’re getting two destinations for the price of one. It’s like Christmas morning all over again.
Most companies offer this as an option when booking a flight. I know for a fact that Emirates does. For example, we were looking at a flight from Cape Town to Marrakesh with a free stopover in Dubai. It’s a win-win situation.