The New York Times Travel Show and after signing up for every trip giveaway we came across, we sat in for travel writer Julia Dimon's seminar on how to live your travel dreams. We all have that dream destination or trip of a lifetime that for some reason or another keeps getting pushed to the back burner. "Oh, I don't have the time nor the money for it." "I can't travel now that I have kids." "I don't want to go alone. It's scary out there!" Whatever the reason, Dimon, who's been around the world four times and visited 80 countries, offered up some good advice to combat some of the excuses we keep falling back on.
1. For cheaper airfare prices, browse through: kayak.com, dohop.com, skyscanner.com, orbitz.com, expedia.com, cheaptickets.com, momondo.com, and airfarewatchdog.com. They're aggregators that comb through many sites in just one search.
2. Sometimes if you pass up on certain prices that you pull up on these sites, you won't see them again the next time you browse as the site assumes that you're not interested. Deleting your cookies will bring them back up on subsequent visits.
3. Sign up for email alerts so the deals come straight to your inbox. Follow your favorite hotel chains and airlines on Twitter and Facebook to find out about upcoming sales.
4. Book on Tuesdays and travel on Wednesdays and Saturdays when things are less busy. Choose morning flights, be flexible with your dates, go in the off-season, and consider layovers and alternate airports that might result in a cheaper flight. Just be sure to take into account the cost of a longer commute to your destination.
5. Booking your hotel and airfare together is another way to save on travel costs.
6. Bing.com predicts if airfare prices will go up or drop, which helps if you know when you want to travel and want to figure out if you should buy now or later. On kayak.com, the Explore feature shows you where you can go and for how much.
7. When it comes to frequent flier miles it's best to stick to one program and really work towards raking in those points and achieving elite status. The FrequentFlier Crier newsletters, flyertalk.com, and Chris Guillebeau are all great resources to learn how to work the system.
8. Consider good value destinations. These are spots that might be a tad expensive to fly into, but once there offer more bang for your buck. Among these are Vietnam, India, Bolivia, Argentina, and Thailand!
9. For hotels and car rentals, bid on hotwire.com and priceline.com. Dimon says she's had the most success when bidding $71-$79 for a four-star hotel rooms that normally go for $120+. Visit bidontravel.com and betterbidding.com to learn other tips and tricks that have worked for others.
10. Check out accommodations available on hostelworld.com, airbnb.com, and couchsurfing.com. For activities abroad and in your hometown, find deals on livingsocial.com, groupon.com, and yippit.com.
1. Traveling on your own doesn't necessarily mean traveling alone. Find a tour company like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Global Exchange, and Contiki that will handle all the logistics and bookings for you while providing instant travel companions for your trip.
2. Volunteer abroad. Not only will you get a more authentic experience than what the tourist traps offer, but you'll have a chance to mingle with the locals.
3. Find forums and get in touch with others who've traveled to or live in your destination city. Try virtualtourist.com, tripcolony.com, expats.com, and internations.org. Travbuddy.com and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Forum are two resources for those looking for a possible travel partner.
4. If you want company when you've already started on your journey, meetup.com, eatwithequals.net, and the Facebook app Twigmore help you connect with locals or hook up with other travelers in your area.
There are ways to make your dream trip a reality even if you have children in tow. In fact, Dimon developed her own love for travel at an early age after her mom, also a travel writer, would take her along on assignments. Traveling is such a great way to teach your child about other cultures, cuisine, history, languages, geography, and best of all, tolerance and understanding towards others. Dimon offered up Delicious Baby, Six in the World, Have Baby Will Travel, and My Little Nomads as top sites for parents who want to travel with their children.
Balancing work and life seems to be this endless tightrope walk for many of us. We tend to work too hard and then feel guilty about taking our well-deserved time off. Americans don't even get enough vacation days as is! So it's seriously time to think about what we're doing to our sanity by shelving our happiness just to earn more money.
Dimon read us this great quote from the Dalai Lama. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered, "Man.... Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
Where have you wanted to go all this time but never have?