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These are the brands that I recommend. They all have their pros and cons, but they are comprehensive and easy to use, and they cater to a variety of needs and interests. And while most customers will be searching for flights, hotels and rental cars, remember that many of these services can book cruises and activities as well.
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Learn to cook – I learned to cook while in college (a skill that has helped me ever since), and before I left on my big trip, I cut down on eating out to two times per week. I cooked a large dinner and then enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day, thus saving more money. Cook more, eat out less, and travel sooner.
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[…] Make sure you’re aware of the requirements of the country of your destination, so you can gather the appropriate documents. It may take up to six or eight weeks to get these items updated, so, as soon as you know your […]
A vacation is supposed to be a fun and relaxing break from your everyday life. However, a poorly planned vacation can end up being a major headache. Be ready to enjoy your time off by planning your travel, accommodations, and activities ahead of time. Giving yourself plenty of time to plan can be a fun way to build up excitement for your vacation.
To use public transport in Sydney requires the Opal card, I have information on it in one of my posts I’m linking to below. The hop-on-hop-off bus can be useful too as a way of getting your bearings and seeing the highlights, then determining if you want to go back and explore a particular spot in more depth.
You can get directions for driving, public transit, walking, or biking on Google Maps. Whenever you see multiple routes, the best route to your destination is blue. Other routes are in gray on the map.
Book special adventures ahead of time. If you want to do something special, like a tour of a special collection at a museum, a whale watching trip, a performance, a sunset cruise, or a very fancy dinner, make reservations ahead of time.
If you’re on a budget, sites like HostelBookers, HostelWorld, or CouchSurfing are alternative options for finding somewhere to stay for cheap (or in some cases, free). Don’t let the word “hostel” throw you off, though. Some places offer amenities like swimming pools, game rooms, and rooftop bars, making them nearly indistinguishable from most hotels.
Great article. I read your travel insurance post and you touch on that here too. Do you know of any insurance companies that would serve someone who doesn’t live anywhere? You touch on the importance of using cards instead of cash in your book as well.. is there a way for someone to get a pre-paid global card without having a residential address?
Consider all transportation needs. Reaching your destination is only one transportation consideration. Once you have arrived in the area, you will need to figure out how to get from the airport, train station, or bus station to your hotel. You may also have plans to travel locally while on vacation.
Travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected medical emergencies and events such as trip cancellation, your personal effects, lost, stolen or damaged luggage by an airline, and other related losses incurred while traveling.
“I always have a budget for travel,” Naveen says. “That includes saving a couple hundred dollars a month towards a travel fund. This is the money that I saved through the IWT system. I use for hotels and restaurants.”
Plan a surprise. If you are planning a vacation, it’s likely that you are making plans for yourself and other people. It may be fun to plan a surprise—a nice dinner or an exciting excursion—for someone who is traveling with you.
Thanks for a wonderful and informative post, Matt. I was reading step 8 (last minute deals) and wondering how much success one has with it. I am a ardent shopper myself and would always want to get the best deal out there. However, I wait too long (in hope of last minute deals) and usually end up paying more or compromising on the quality. Then, I get to listen to the lectures of my wife to buy early ?
Don’t give banks any of your hard-earned money. Save every extra dollar you can by using a no-fee ATM card. I use Charles Schwab, but there are lots of other banks (don’t forget to check your local banks) that don’t charge ATM fees. Additionally, you can join a bank in the Global ATM Alliance.

Plan A Vacation
Vacation Planning
It’s important to keep in mind that flight is not the only thing to consider in your overall budget. A flight to Thailand might be on the pricier end, but things even out once you arrive since cost of living is lower there. (The opposite may be true about a trip to Iceland.) So weigh these out carefully before committing to your destination. Don’t forget to consider visa entry requirements, too, depending on your country of citizenship.
The company specializes in last-minute fares, particularly the “blooper” and “mea culpa” ones that result when an airline messes up. Unlike a lot of companies, these folks also incorporate smaller airlines, such as Southwest and Allegiant, which are known for great prices but are often skipped over. If you’re not tied to a particular brand, this is a great way to save money. Click here for tips on using Airfarewatchdog.
I’ve planned countless trips for myself (and even some for friends), and over the years, I’ve developed an efficient little checklist that ensures I don’t miss anything important (I like lists). I don’t want to get to my next destination and then realize I forgot something.
Before you book a flight, hotel room, or vacation package, check the price on each of the individual vendor’s sites. Oftentimes, cutting out the middle man and booking separately is cheaper than buying a package on sites like Expedia or Orbitz. Furthermore, buying directly from the airline gives you more flexibility to manage your flights, and calling the hotel can result in unadvertised savings (especially during low season and if you are celebrating a special occasion). Remember, third party sites require full payment up front, so do your homework before plunking down the plastic.
Many cities around the world offer local ride-sharing or taxi-hailing apps, so it’s worth checking if that’s something you’re willing to splurge on and download in advance. Having this tied to your credit card will eliminate to need to have cash handy first thing when you’re leaving the airport and getting a ride to your hotel. If you want to have some cash handy, however, you are more likely to get better rates exchanging it in advance with your local bank than to do so at airports.
Hey Tomasz, glad to hear my guide on how to plan your trip is useful. Yes, for immunizations always best to be done with plenty of time before your departure. Hope you make it to Ethiopia eventually, but best to be on the safe side.
No matter how long you’ll be gone, it’s a good idea to let your credit card companies know you will be overseas; that way any transactions that you make aren’t flagged as fraudulent and your card is less likely to be blocked. There’s nothing worse than having to sit on the phone with your credit card company instead of enjoying your vacation.
By using this post as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip (and if you are looking for more in-depth information about planning a trip, check out my book for next steps). You’ll check all the boxes, not miss anything, and have plenty of money for your vacation. It can be as simple as booking a flight and packing or as complex as rearranging your entire life to go backpack the world forever.
Compare flights and hotel prices for different dates online. If you find that the date you’re trying to book is WAY more expensive than another one a few months away, you might be booking on peak season.