"I want to travel more!"
Sound familiar? With the arrival of the new year comes new resolutions, a popular one being to travel more throughout the year. But sometimes these resolutions are easier said than done. There are kids, bills, work, family obligations and a ton of other reasons why travel may not seem feasible. The truth is that more travel is possible but it requires making some changes in your life and taking the necessary steps to make it happen. Similar to losing weight, it means commitment and sacrifice, but the pay off is well worth the effort. Here are five tips to help you travel more in 2015:
1. Start a Travel Fund or Do Some Freelance Work
Every time you receive a paycheck, put aside a portion of the money into a travel fund. Even $5 a week is better than nothing at all. The goal is to reallocate money you might normally spend on something else and use it to help you achieve your travel goals. Another option is to find some freelance work with the intention of funneling the money into a travel savings account. When I decided I wanted to go to South Africa, I took a part-time ghostwriting gig that allowed me to save up money specifically for my trip. Sites like Elance and Fiverr provide tons of freelance opportunities in a trusted environment.
2. Sign Up for Travel Deals
I love great travel deals. They have helped me with countless airfares, hotel rates and tour bookings all over the world. The key is to search and sign up for these deals so that they come straight to your inbox. The travel resources I've listed on my website are a great start, but there are literally hundreds more that I am discovering every day. Start by searching around on Twitter; follow tourism companies, airlines, hotels and travel experts, then go from there.
3. Be Flexible
Being flexible with your travel plans is a huge bonus when planning a trip. If you know you want to visit a certain city, but you're not set on a specific time, you can keep an eye out for deals and work around those dates. This flexibility allows you to avoid peak travel times when everything — airfare, hotels, tours, etc. — are at their most expensive. Sites like Adioso and Google Flights help you to find the best times to visit any destination in the world.
4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone (In a Smart Way)
On several occasions I've heard family and friends say they want to go to a certain place but either they're unsure what to expect or they don't have anyone to travel with them. Regarding the first concern, there are so many resources you can access to give you some insight into a new place. TripAdvisor forums are always my first stop. Also, travel blogs (like this one!), friends and friends of friends can provide more information. As for not having a travel buddy, go solo! But do your homework on the location and expenses to ensure solo travel will work for you. I was once scared to travel by myself, so I started small and went to places where I thought I would feel the most comfortable. Since my first solo trip to the UK, I have visited more than 10 countries by myself across Europe and Asia. Do your research, be smart and enjoy the adventure!
5. Realize That Travel Can Be Close to Home
While big bucket list trips are undoubtedly amazing, it's easy to forget how great it is to explore any new place, whether near or far. Travel is about discovery and this can happen in the next town over just as much as it can on the other side of the world. If a big two-week vacation seems out of the picture, aim for a weekend getaway to a place close to home. I love spending the occasional weekend taking the train from New York City to upstate New York because I know I will be discovering something new. Local travel can be both rewarding and fulfilling.
These five tips have helped me immensely with my travel goals. For more great advice on how to travel more and maximize your vacation days, check out my interviews with some of the most seasoned travelers.
Do you have any travel tips that have worked for you?