What are you waiting for?
Plan your dream trip 1/2 way across the world. Without ever leaving your couch.
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Don't know where to start? It's truly as simple as this: Pick a place, any place. Buy your plane ticket. Do your (fun) homework. Reserve your stay. Get packing!
Without fail, 6 - 8 months in advance is when I see the cheapest flights. But regardless of when you buy, be diligent and patient and you'll find something do-able. I recommend the one and only Google Flights. It hasn't let me down yet! Love the "flexible dates" calendar where you can find the cheapest travel dates within your window. If you're feelin' adventurous, the "explore destinations" function is fun - showing you cheap places for the time you're looking at. And the drop-down of flight options with various airlines, times, & layover options is fantastic.
Note: I always like to buy ferry, train and bus tickets the day of because 1. Your plans change. 2. Weather and seasons play a large role in their timeliness and dependancy. 3. Locals usually have good suggestions on when and where you should leave to get to your next destination. HOWEVER, Rome2Rio is a great option to do your...
Before you book your stay, I say have fun with researching (aka daydreaming). Not only should you pick a town that suits you but within that town, which neighborhood? Within that neighborhood, are there places to eat or will you be cooking your meals? But where do you find all this information? TripAdvisor, Rome2Rio, YouTube, Travel Channel... Google, essentially. (You're welcome for that link.) Once you start digging, it's a spiral effect of epiphanies. Here's a 14 second glimpse into my brain as I research: "Wow, I am so glad and I am not staying in San Vito Lo Capo because the public transportation there is horrible and there is only one small boardwalk with pricey eateries and my room didn't have a kitchen. Palermo is central and vibrant and the airbnbs are so cute (and cheap!) and with all the money I'm saving on public transportation... I'll have more to spend on granita!" Once you feel passionate and connected to your destination, then find a place to sleep.
Booking.com: The site features apartments, hotels, condos, B&B's, hostels, campsites... the list goes on! Most places don't require a credit card to book (pay when you get there) and have FREE cancelation...so you can plan & cancel your trip 10X over before finalizing your decision. Guilty!* Plus, find a place you love without compromising your budget. Click HERE and get $20 off your next stay with my booking.com coupon code!
*Obviously, good rooms @ a good price are in high demand. Better to reserve early and cancel if you change your mind. No harm, no foul.
Airbnb: Rent a bed, a room, an apartment...an estate even!..from a local. Best idea ever. Depending on where you're headed will determine the amazingness of what your money can buy. For example: my airbnb in Costa Rica for $80/night was for the luxury of air conditioning and a toilet that flushes. My $80 in Italy buys me a beachfront apartment with mosaic tiles lining the kitchen sink and marble arches at every threshold. Either way, it's a great way to get the true local experience. And a total bonus when your host hooks it up with the inside scoop.
Note: Some airbnbs are also on booking.com with better cancellation policies and maybe even discounts. I suggest cross-referencing before pulling the trigger.
Once you have an idea of where you're going and what you'll be doing, you can begin to think about what you'll need. Part of being an efficient packer is having the right things to pack! Is it versatile? It is functional? Is it necessary? I usually only spend money on the things I foresee myself using on my next adventure. And as much as I love Target, I find that, ultimately, shopping online from more niche markets is cheaper. Some of my favorite websites to snag a good deal:
Backcountry: My go-to store for all my outdoor gear. They have everything from sleeping bags and day packs to climbing shoes and snowboard goggles. Some of it can be pricey, but their selection of sale items is great if you know what you're looking for.
Nordstrom Rack: Best one-stop-shop for those good quality and long lasting necessities like a small purse that fits in your carry on, running shoes you can wear climbing a volcano or around town, sunnies & a windbreaker.
Billabong: Great for surf tees and fun beach clothes you can love all summer long but toss once you've worn them to shreds. (Or is this just me?) . . . They have a SALE on SALE twice a year. One in August and one in January. Early November also has good deals. Use the promo code "WELCOME" for $10 off a $75 purchase year-round.
Dermstore: All your haircare, skincare, & cosmetics in one place. Lots of natural options, which is what I prefer - brands like 100% Pure, Pacifica, Honest Co, etc. And they have your favorite products in travel sizes! Plus, get 20% off your purchase when you sign up.
Revolve: With free 2-day shipping + free (& easy) returns, this is the best place to buy your bikinis. With a wider selection than any single store, it's a great option since you can try it on at home and return it hassle free...just in case.
Vitacost: Do you smuggle food like me? I like to pack a few Larabars and coconut oil to get me started. Looking for essential oils? They have that, too. And best of all, they carry Alba Botanica at a discounted price! - My favorite brand, especially for sunscreen.
...So are you done planning your trip yet!?
Safe travels. Con amor y alegria,