Just so you know, I’m incredibly type-A when it comes to traveling. I’m THAT person who must be at the airport 3 hours before an international flight and I carry everyone’s passports because I don’t trust people with their own… especially my husband LOL. I also create a spreadsheet for every trip and name it something suuuuper creative like “Summer Trip 2022.” All hotels/houses/Airbnb stays, car rentals, restaurants, and excursions are plugged into my little excel spreadsheet. Yes, this is me. I’m so blessed to have been given opportunities to travel starting at such a young age, and I intend to keep travel a priority in my life. Sometimes it may feel impossible to afford the flight, the hotel, and everything else that comes with planning a trip, but over the years, I’ve curated a list of practical tips for that once in a lifetime vacation:
1. Be FLEXIBLE
When I say flexible, I mean with your travel dates. Obviously, you’ll have a certain week or set of days in mind when planning a trip. But if you can base your trip off a good deal on airfare, I highly recommend you do that. I’m currently Eat, Pray, Love-ing Pomelo Travel and Scotts Cheap Flights (these services send you insane deals on some of the best destinations in the world) or Google Flights when looking for tickets. Not gonna lie, they’re not always the best flights – BEWARE OF LAYOVERS – but they do save you money and ultimately, get you to your destination.
2. Two Words: OFF SEASON
Another way to get good deals on flights and hotels is traveling during their “off season.” But keep in mind, there are pros and cons here. PROS: less people, cheaper flights/hotels, potentially better weather (depending where you’re traveling). CONS: some beach cities partially shut down in Fall-Spring (e.g. Capri, Italy), and less enjoyable weather – because mannnn, it is HOT and SWEATY during the summer.
3. STOP over packing!
Look, I get it. We all thought we wanted to look like Emily in Paris in Paris but let’s face it, you’re an American and they can spot you from a mile away. No, you don’t need 2 pairs of socks and underwear for every day… Right? You definitely don’t need a separate carry-on for 8 pairs of shoes. You don’t need to pack every toiletry you’ve ever used. YOU can pack for 2 weeks in a carry-on. I know this because it’s been done, BY ME. Less is more, mix and match, bring what makes you feel good and comfy.
4. Don’t just WING it
Spontaneity is great until you can’t get tickets to a certain museum or to do a certain activity because it was booked, sold out, not available. No. Bueno. With TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and GOOGLE right at our finger tips, there’s no reason to not RESEARCH, people! Find out what people are saying, doing, and eating! Pick the days for scheduled activities and make those reservations accordingly. Then pick the days you want to be schedule-less… roam around, be free, get lost – but just enough so that you can find your way back… in one piece.
5. Don’t be too ambitious
I mean, don’t be too ambitious with your itinerary. Do be ambitious with your life LOL. Yes, you’ll be in Europe or Asia or Africa, and you’ll think to yourself “OMG I’M SOOO CLOSE to _______ I should totally book a flight and go while I’m here.” But should you?? While that’s a beautiful idea and all, be weary enough to see if your itinerary can handle it. Keep in mind, you’ll have to pack everything up again, go to the airport or train station, taxi to your accommodations, and just do it all over again. Geesh, talk about wasted time. I vote to stay in one place, soak in the culture, go beyond the tourist spots, and dare I say… make friends.
6. Don’t be intimidated
Traveling isn’t reserved for the wealthy, the elite, or the influencers. It’s not reserved just for those who are good at planning or can hire a travel agent. Literally, anyone can do it. Make a goal and stick to it. Put money aside every month to fund your travel. Make that excel spreadsheet with your details, budgets, and wish lists. I promise, it’s so worth it.
I could talk about traveling for days, months, years even. There’s nothing that has shaped who I am as a person more (besides the good Lord) than traveling. I’m still waiting on my traveling influencer persona to blow up on social media *eye roll* – but she has yet to arrive. So, influencing my friends and family is a good place to start! I urge you to get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere new. Las Vegas, San Diego, or Disneyworld is fun but COME ON, people – think a little bigger! Waiting until you are “retired” or “have time” is a cop out because tomorrow isn’t promised. Money will return to you, but your time and the experience never will… JUST GO.