Come January 1, some people resolve to lose weight, save money, and quit smoking. The real adventurers resolve to travel more. Planning a trip is no easy feat when you have student loans and rent to pay, but there are certainly ways to make it work. Start scouring the best flight-buying websites, following budget travel blogs, and cutting back on extra spending and you'll be on the beach in Belize or biking around Amsterdam by summertime.
Let's start small with a weekend staycation. That's right: Be a tourist in your own city. You might just be surprised to find how much a spa day makes you feel like you just got back from Bali.
If facials and massages aren't your jam, then go museum hopping, spend a winter afternoon in a warm indoor botanical garden, hit up a festival, or simply book a hotel room for a change in scenery—anything to help you escape the monotony of your everyday routine. Sign up for a group tour via Viator to mingle with other tourists, too.
If you're set on getting as far away from your apartment as possible, then you're going to need some major discount-searching skills. Start with Secret Flying, a website that posts the cheapest flights found on the internet daily ($300 roundtrip to Europe, to Barcelona for less than $200, and more). Subscribe to its email newsletter to find out about the latest deals ASAP.
If you're flexible, Skyscanner has a nifty "everywhere" function that allows you to see the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world from your origin. You don't even have to submit exact dates; just search the entire month.
Another good way to score deals on travel is via Twitter. Companies like Expedia, Hotwire, TravelZoo, and AirFareWatchdog tweet out their best deals on the daily. Also, follow the Twitter accounts of specific airlines such as Southwest or JetBlue.
As for finding bargains on accommodation, check out Hotel Deals' Twitter account for some seriously cheap stays.
Travel blogs are a fantastic source of inspiration, so find a few that speak to you and your travel style—a solo female traveler, a lover of luxury, an adventurer, or whoever it may be—and follow them religiously. If you have a specific destination in mind, look for photographers in that area on Instagram. Allow their photos and travel tips to guide you on your own adventure.
Travel is expensive, so making financial sacrifices is a given. Some people, though, don't even know where the bulk of their money goes. In a lot of cases, it's food.
Eating out for lunch every day (even the cheapest of takeaways) or grabbing a daily coffee en route to work is likely one of your biggest expenses. Foregoing a $5 latte five times a week can save you $100 per month and that adds up. Every time you go to order a second glass of wine at dinner or have trouble passing up a pair of shoes, remind yourself that travel is the reward.
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't afford a tiny bit of luxury, though. Sites like Voyage Privé offer high-end experiences (swanky resorts, three-course dinners, and that sort of thing) for super cheap. It isn't unusual to come across a five-star hotel for $100 per night.
Buy a guidebook. Not only are they super handy when you're out in a foreign country with no WiFi and minimal language skills, but they also remind you of what you're working for when you feel like you're slaving away back at home. In your downtime, browse the pages of a Lonely Planet or Bradt book and plan and dream.
-- tripsavvy.com --