Man, I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for awhile now! So many people think travel is inaccessible, too expensive, or just too time consuming for them. WRONG. ‘He was so wrong.’ (Mean Girls quote, did anyone but my boyfriend catch that?) Since I’ve started working in hospitality I feel like I’ve gotten even more of an inside scoop on how to travel smart and make the most out of each vacation. I’m going to try and narrow this down to 5 very doable tips and even give you options on destinations that are affordable and you maybe never thought of!
Start packing now, thank me later 🙂
1. When? September, October, January, February. All great months to travel. Hotels are silent..chirp, chirp (those are crickets). Airports are in desperate need of leisure travelers. And most of us are sitting around letting each weekend pass us by without a clue on the travel treasures that are available. NO MORE!
2. The Flight – kayak.com and airfare watchdog.com. These are great sites to use when picking tickets from various airline providers. Because if you want to know the truth, no airlines is going to be undersold! The best deal is to book with the actual airlines and if you have the patience, search for the cheapest one -way tickets and create your own round trip. Why do I have to book through the actual airlines you ask?? Because even if you have to pay $75 more you will at least be able to change your flight as needed. If you purchase from a third party site (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc.) then you have NO freedom to manipulate your flight arrangements. Gasp! The truth is out.
3. The Hotel/Accomodations – I always skip the big chains and look for a cute boutique property or a cute boutique friends house! A lot of small hotels will give you customer service (and value) unlike any other. Many offer complimentary wine hours, free wi-fi, inclusive breakfast, free valet parking and complimentary transportation to and from the airport. Oh and when booking a hotel my best advice is to call, call, call! Close your lap top (you can do it) and speak with a human. This will almost always get you the BEST rate and if you’re super nice (which you should be) an upgrade. Also, join the loyalty program – seriously the monthly newsletter you’ll end up looking forward to is totally worth the free room nights.
Again stay away from the 3rd party sites with hotels too – because ya know what, a 5 star room for $25 it isn’t worth it. Listen, if you get there and that ‘suite’ is actually a closet facing an alley and the dumpster, with sketchy cable and you’re next to some young newlyweds – moving rooms will be like parting the red sea. Yes, only God can help you now. Hotels are VERY limited in how they can help guests who purchase through 3rd party sites.
4. The Destination – First of all I have to admit I watch an unhealthy amount of HGTV’s House Hunters International… No, I’m not buying a vacation home in the Alps, I’m looking for places I can afford to visit without spending the next two months eating ramen noodles. Dominican Republic, El Salvador, San Francisco, Costa Rica, Utah, The Carolina Beaches, Bali, are just a few I’m throwing out there.
5. The Dining – Eat like a local. You don’t have to break bread at Wolfgang Puck’s latest restaurant, find out where the locals go. The best diners, burger joints, sushi places or a restaurant where nothing is in english and locals are everywhere. After all, it’s about experiencing the authenticity of the city (and not going home broke) and that won’t happen if you’re sitting amongst a slew of tourists at a Fudruckers in Puerto Rico. But if you go off the beaten path you’re sure to leave with a full belly and some good memories.
Bon Voyage peeps!