It’s no secret. I live to travel. I will go anywhere, at any time given the chance. I find it to be the most educational & rewarding experience – even more so than food! (Gasp!). Every place, like every person you encounter, is a teacher. Just open your eyes and take it in. Let go of your ego and be open to something new, uncomfortable, challenging and absolutely life-changing.
Over the years, I’ve visited some extraordinary places and many people have bombarded me with the questions – “How did you pay for it? That must’ve been expensive…” “You must make a lot of money.” Gotta love everyone’s assumptions. First of all, I’m not a millionaire but I’m a damn independent and resourceful adult.
To be honest, my paycheck is more like a reality check. People say find the courage to take a leap of faith and do what you love. Well, I love writing (hence the birth of this blog). I love sharing ideas, giving advice on daily tips, food, travel, motivating my loved ones, talking about how cute my dog Rambo is 🙂 and finding a way to document my life so I don’t forget the adventures and can hopefully share with future loved ones. They say if you know a writer you will never die. That’s pretty amazing to think about.
I also have to pay bills, so after years of hemming and hawing, and dabbling here and there, I officially launched my consulting company, BLC Communications. That’s a whole other post. But it’s really awesome being your own boss! OK, back to this post…
Trips are affordable and don’t have to put you in debt but you have PLAN. Listen folks, we all have bills, rent/mortgages, student loans and other obligations. It’s easy to put off those dream trips, but when is the time really right? Never and now!
- Rack up credit card rewards: Almost every card has a point system or a cash-back clause. This means every time you make a purchase you’re automatically earning redeemable extras on the side.
- Apply for airline and hotel points: Get those loyalty rewards! Signing up for an airline / hotel membership is almost always free, so why not collect miles with each flight / hotel you book for no cost? Remember you can sign up for multiple carriers and hotel chains, or if you prefer one airline / hotel chain, look into their credit card affiliates.
- There are always travel deals: I have never paid for a first class/business flight. I’ve used points or been upgraded because of my flying status. If you do not have either, then I suggest you dig through a bargain bin when it comes to airfare.
- Search for affordable destinations: Look for countries within your budget. While I am dying to go to New Zealand + Australia that trip is going to have to wait. This year Keith and I are going to China + Southeast Asia. Points for flights + hotels, and when you land the US dollar is strong! There are also a ton of affordable European and South American countries thanks to the low exchange rates and discounted flight routes (see #3 and the sites for carriers).
- Consider low-cost lodging: I, personally, have never done a youth hostel, although it’s an option. You don’t have the stay at the Ritz (unless you have points, of course!). Really consider other options like chic boutique hotels or AirBNB!
- Save small for a big returns: We all have daily habits that can add up. I love trashy gossip magazines and the food bar at Whole Foods. By cutting back on these ‘vices’ for a month you could save a bunch.
- Be open to when you travel: Sadly, it’s almost impossible to find cheap summer fares to Europe or inexpensive winter flights to South America. Your best bet? Go in the spring or fall when there’s still good weather, but no crowds or high prices.
- Save your personal time off days: Tack your vacation on to a holiday (Memorial Day in May, Labor Day in September, and Columbus Day in October). Since these are domestic days off, traveling outside the country won’t be as crazy as New Years, Christmas or Easter.
- Use inconveniences to your advantage: Things don’t always go according to plan. In these cases, it never hurts to ask for a refund or at least an upgrade. For example, on a recent trip, Keith and I had just checked into our villa. It was around midnight and a drunk guy tapped on our patio window. It was not a dangerous situation, but could have been. We called security and the staff handled everything professionally and comped that night. Although it was a slight frustration, a free night is a free night! Cha ching!