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If you're anything like me, traveling is your thing and there is probably very little in the world that makes you feel as fulfilled as traveling does. However, we all know getting to where you are trying to go is expensive, and once you get there? Eating, shopping, and everything in between can leave you broker than broke. So here are some hacks, tips, and tricks to make traveling much more possible.
1. Consider driving the distance to hotspots... or cold spots.
Depending on where you live in the world, chances are that there are places within a five-hour drive from you that are certainly considered a vacation spot to millions around the world. Live close to the mountains? Plan a weekend mountain getaway where you can hike, ski/snowboard, or plan a spa weekend (that hopefully your work health benefits can cover). Live in a more hot climate? Pull yourself out of your rut and take a drive out to a desert oasis or high-traffic vacation cities and explore—that and relaxation is often what makes a vacation feel like... well, a vacation.
2. Groupon like your life depends on it.
People often don't give Groupon the credit that it deserves. Very often you can find a hotel or all-inclusive vacation deal for a fraction of what it originally costs on other travel platforms. I once saw a Condé Nast approved five star hotel in Mexico for an impossibly low price. I didn't book it, but obsessed over it for months, and when the Groupon deal sold out and popped back up a while later for double the price, I was vexed to say the least. The list of hotel deals sometimes seems endless, so browse, compare, budget, and plan accordingly!
3. Travel with a squad.
As the old adage goes: "A problem shared is a problem halved." This is no truer when splitting costs with your friends and/or family when you collectively decide on a vacation. Splitting the costs of hotels, gas, and any other fees incurred during travel is a great way to control costs. Lots of all-inclusive vacation package websites (such as Red Tag for example) actually allow you to pay for your trip across two credit cards, so nobody has to owe anyone anything! The great part of it is, not only are you sharing costs, but you're also sharing memories with people that you (hopefully) really enjoy the company of!
4. Travel alone.
Conversely, planning trips with other people can get stressful (especially when you're the planning type). Susie can't get the time off work, Joey can't afford the trip right now, Donna can't find anyone to take care of the kids... *insert eye roll here* When I was younger, I thought it was absolutely imperative that I travel with someone, lest I be pegged as a loser or something equally as heinous. A conversation with my dad one day quickly flipped that long held perspective on its head. He said (in many words as he tends to be a long-winded guy) that I don’t need other people accompanying me to make exploring more worthwhile, and that attaching my plans to the unpredictability of others was just plain stupid, especially when I didn’t have to. So, although it may be a hard concept to get around, I implore you to do the same—after all, you never know who you could meet and make friends with along the time.
5. Here comes Groupon again.
I don’t think I can stress the importance of discount apps like Groupon. It's one thing to get to your destination, but deciding what to do when you get there can be a whole other headache. So with something like Groupon, it’s easier than you think to stumble across deeply discounted restaurants and activities, especially when you can add a promo code to the deal to make it even cheaper. So do your Groupon-related research ahead of time, so that when you get to your destination, you’ve already saved on what could have been a small fortune.
6. Fly in the off-season.
It may not be a well-known hack, but after New Year's, the cost of flights to all sorts of places are cheaper between the months of January and March—sometimes even April. Traveling from a cold climate to a warm one in those months or a warm one to a cold one if that’s your preference is definitely something to consider. Cruises, all-inclusive vacations, and other popular destination getaways are also notoriously cheap around this time as opposed the most expensive time to travel which is usually around the December holidays. Don’t get me wrong, great deals always pop up throughout the year, so using apps like Hopper or watching flights on sites like Sky Scanner or Flight Hub can make the difference between a decent year of travel to an unprecedented year of travel.
Vacations are meant to be a beautiful and personal experience, so no matter how you do it or where you go, make sure you are getting the most out of your travels.