Going in to 2018 newly single, I knew I wanted it to be my year of travel. A time for me to find myself, by getting lost, without having to check-in or worry about anyone else and their problems (I know it sounds selfish, but it’s much needed). After booking three big trips within the span of two months, I feel like I really have a grasp on making it financially feasible to do more with less. Like I said, I knew I wanted to travel a lot this year, but what I forgot to consider was the financial burden it would cause. Everyone wants to travel, but they want to do so without going in to heaps of credit card debt— amiright?
Luckily, in planning trips to Whistler, Canada, Nashville, Tennessee and Europe this spring, I learned the do’s and don’ts of booking travel. A few quick hacks to mull over before pulling the trigger on your accommodations.
Do some research on the city. Before you even start thinking about flights, do your homework. It’s important to figure out the peak season, the weather situation each month, and when the tourist levels are at an all-time high. Knowing more about the city will help you make an educated decision on when to go.
Don’t book anything right away. If you think you’ve found a good flight, at a killer price— wait. Don’t jump the gun and book something the first time you sit down at your computer. Make a point to watch the prices for at least two weeks, to see if they fluctuate, before committing.
Do ask for recommendations. I’m lucky in that I have a whole community of Instagram friends who have lived, or traveled, worldwide. Asking locals for recommendations is key for going off the beaten path and finding the hidden gems.
Don’t only look at flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I know everyone thinks that flights are cheaper in the middle of the week, and while they normally are, we saw some of the cheapest prices during the weekend(s). I booked my flights to both Whistler and Nashville on a Friday, because after watching the prices, I saw that they had dropped significantly and I didn’t want to chance them spiking.
Do make a list of the top three things you want to do and see while you’re there. My best girlfriends and I are taking a girls trip to Paris for our 10 year high school reunion. Since we will only be there for a week, we each came up with a list of the top three things we want to do while we’re there. This makes it easier to ensure everyone is getting the most out of their trip, and seeing what they want to see. Some things may overlap, but make a point to hit all of the items on the combined list.
Don’t feel obligated to go during a certain time. Planning a trip with a group of people is hard, especially when everyone’s jobs and personal lives are pulling them in every different direction. I just planned a weekend trip with 8 other bloggers, and while it was tricky accommodating everyone’s schedule, we made it work by choosing three different potential weekends and picking the weekend that the majority of people could attend. Not everyone will always be able to make it, but that’s life.
Do save money. In anticipation of these trips, I stopped buying clothes. I gave up shopping for Lent, because I knew I would be dishing out a lot of dollars towards travel. I know that’s easier said than done, but pinch pennies where you can. Creating a “travel fund” will help to ease the burden of booking flights, paying for hotels, shopping for souvenirs, etc.
Do make the most out of your travel. If you’re planning to do a weeklong Euro-trip, but can swing going a few days early to visit another country nearby, do it. My friend and I are heading to Europe a few days early, and going to Dublin, Ireland before meeting the rest of the girls in Paris. It’s fairly cheap to fly from Ireland to France, so it only ended up costing us a couple hundred dollars extra, which is totally worth it in my opinion.
Don’t feel like you have to eat 3 meals a day, just because you’re traveling. In Whistler, we ate and drank really well. By that I mean, we ate at nice, trendy restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the occasional wine and cheese for cocktail hour. While it was nice to hit a lot of the local establishments in a short amount of time, I spent way more money than I would have liked and was often nursing an upset stomach from all of the rich food and heavy drinks. Don’t feel obligated to eat big and boujee for every meal.
Do follow local Instagram accounts. We have followed and shared so many Nashville accounts on Instagram amongst our group, and it has really helped us plan our trip. By following the local accounts, it makes it easier to find restaurants and bars to add to the itinerary. Furthermore, sharing and tagging each other in the posts amps up the excitement for the trip, which is a huge plus.