Make Travel a Priority
If you’re anything like me, traveling is a priority, and you’re already thinking about where to go next as one year comes to an end and another begins. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, or use up a ton of vacation days. With a mindset shift and some planning, you can make your travel dreams a reality.
1. Use a Travel Site
If travel seems daunting and ironing out all the details feels overwhelming, consider using a one-stop travel site like Expedia that takes all the work out of the planning process. Book your hotel, rental car, flight, cruise, and activities, like walking tours, day trips, and unique events, all in one place.
2. Redefine Your Definition of “Vacation”
Consider traveling to places that are close to home, like driving a few hours to Des Moines or Madison, or taking a quick flight to a nearby city, like Chicago, or head to the Boundary Waters to totally disconnect for a few days. Another idea is to plan an epic day exploring your own city and act like you’re a tourist. You’ll find that if you stop thinking about vacations only as long and expensive trips and instead as short getaways to closer destinations, you’ll find much more time to travel.
3. Maximize Business Trips
If you travel for work, consider ways to maximize the time you have in that new city. Can you fit in a coffee shop and a quick hike before meetings begin for the day? Or can you try a cool cocktail lounge and stop into unique shops in the evening? Also, ask your employer if they’d allow you to book your flight so you can come a day early or leave a day late. Maybe they’d even be willing to cover the extra night at a hotel so you can stay in the same room.
4. Day Trips Count
A lot of people think travel means an expensive seven-day trip to Italy or a ten-day cruise to Alaska. But it doesn’t have to mean years of saving up and months of planning and preparation. Travel can be a weekend getaway or even a day trip. Rethink the word “travel,” and instead look for adventures. Spend the day shopping in Stillwater, hiking the bluffs in Red Wing, or exploring historic New Ulm. I bet you’ll uncover hidden gems that have been around you all along.
5. Stay with Friends and Family
One of the most affordable ways to travel is to stay with friends or family so you can save on hotels and rental properties. It’s especially nice when you know people who live in a location you really want to visit. For example, we’ve started taking annual trips to Los Angeles to visit our close friends each February. It allows us time with people who are dear to us and gives us a break from Minnesota’s harsh winter. Plus, we’ve got a free place to sleep and just need to pay for airfare and food.
6. Financially Plan Ahead
Think through ways to cut expenses so you can save more money for travel. For example, do you spend a lot of money on restaurants, the hair salon, massages, new clothing? Maybe even meet with a financial planner to take a deep dive into your spending habits and learn ways to save more effectively. Or, consider getting into travel hacking. There is a lot to learn about opening new credit cards for points, earning miles, and working the system so you can travel for cheap — or even free. Last year we went to Paris for one week and spent $20 on our direct Delta flights and $25 on an upscale Hilton hotel, all thanks to points and miles we earned. One great resource I frequently refer to is Nomadic Matt for travel hacking and Thrifty Traveler to flight alerts.
7. Maximize Long Weekends
Traveling for weeks or months is not an option for a lot of people, and many of us only get a few weeks of vacation time each year. But if you rethink weekends, especially three-day holiday weekends, and the vacation time you do get, you’ll realize you have more days to explore than you initially realized. And if you’re able to work remotely, that may allow you to head out of town a day early. For example, maybe you can head out of town on a Thursday nigh and work from the new destination on a Friday, then as soon as you’re done with work for the day you can turn off your computer and enjoy the new place you’re already in.
8. Be Flexible
If you can be flexible about when you go — and even where — you’ll be able to find cheaper deals. Some great sites to set up flight alerts are Scott’s Cheap Flights, Airfarewatchdog, and Google Flights. Thrifty Traveler is another great option and it’s a Minneapolis-based company. If you just want to go somewhere warm with beaches during winter for example, look around for cheap destinations and play around with dates. If you have that flexibility, you’ll definitely be able to find a great deal.
9. Destination Family Reunions
Family reunions are a great excuse to travel somewhere new. Instead of somebody hosting a family reunion or Thanksgiving at their home, rent a house somewhere new so you can still be together but in a different city. Maybe it’s even just a one-hour drive from home, but it still gets you away from your house and into a new place to explore with family.
10. Travel with Friends
Another way to travel for less is to go with friends. That way you can split the cost of a rental property, hotel room and gas, which will be less expensive than traveling solo or with your spouse. If you do want to travel solo, that can open up even more possibilities, like staying in a hostel and sharing a room with other solo travelers.
You Can Travel As Much As You Want
Don’t tell yourself you can’t travel this year because it’s too expensive or you don’t have enough time. With the advice above and some planning this will be the year you go on some great trips! Happy adventuring!