- “How do you travel so much?”
- “How do you find such great deals?”
The answer to both is: I care about travel, therefore I make it a priority. BOOM.
I’ve been very lucky to travel to some amazing places over the past 10 years. My highlights have definitely included exploring the Sahara Desert in Tunisia via 4×4, running a half marathon in Sweden and surfing in Costa Rica.
Wondering how I’ve been able to make it work?
FIRST, MAKE TIME OFF A PRIORITY:
As travel is super important to me, I’ve always made sure my employer understands that. (Yes, you can tell your boss that!) Regardless of how many weeks of vacation I have per year, I make a point to scout out how my employer feels about unpaid time. For me, not being able to take unpaid time would be a deal breaker. On average, I take 6 weeks of vacation per year, and no, not all of it is paid.
Quick tip: Pretty much your only time to negotiate additional vacation time is at the time of hire. If it’s important to you, bring it up!
NEXT, FIND THAT FLIGHT DEAL:
A very long time ago, I learned about Chris Myden and his knack for finding the best flight deals on the Internet. He has helped me travel to New York, Costa Rica, Belize and Japan on incredible deals (back in 2012, I blogged about how he’s a genius).
So, Ydeals.com is his gig! If you’re in Canada and love to travel, you have to stay plugged into his feeds. He has separate groups (Blog/FB/Twitter) for each of the following cities: Abbotsford, Calgary, Charlottetown, Comox, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grand Prairie, Halifax, Hamilton, Kamloops, Kelowna, London, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Prince George, Quebec City, Regina, St. John’s, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.
For Vancouver-based folks, you must follow:
- Blog: http://www.yvrdeals.com (sign-up for email alerts)
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/yvrdeals/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/yvrdeals
A few years back, it felt like the only “deals” were for last-minute trips, but over the past year-ish, I’d say that’s changed quite a lot! Chris highlights travel deals for last-minute flights from time to time, but more often than not, they are 3-6 months out!
SEARCH FOR AN ACCOMMODATION DEAL:
I book 99.9% of my hotel accommodations through Booking.com. I know what you’re thinking… Booking.com, Priceline, Expedia – it’s all the same shit, just another travel site…
Booking.com actually has a Genius Rewards Program and that program has saved me a ton of $$$ on accommodation costs. Their Genius Program offers an additional 10% off the majority of their accommodations, PLUS tons of freebies and perks (like early check-in, late check-out and free shuttle service).
Here’s why I love Booking.com:
- Low room rates (and a best price guarantee)
- Free cancellation (on most rooms, usually up until 48 hours before check-in)
- Pay later (no $$$ down!)
- Genius deals (and they have incredibly priced Secret Deals from time to time too!)
Their free cancellation & pay later commitment gives me the flexibility to plan out trips in advance and the freedom to change my mind if life gets in the way. (Seriously, it’s wicked).
I have found that you can score quite the deal on accommodations 6-12 months out. Last summer we stayed at Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler for $145/night during a prime time weekend (Ironman Canada), when most people would have paid $250+/night. We had booked 12 months out.
So hotels aren’t for everyone… we love to stay at cabins, shacks and everything in-between too. When I’m not using Booking.com, I typically use Airbnb (if you get referred to the service, you get $27 off your first booking!).
Airbnb is seriously amazing – but it can be tricky to find exactly what you’re looking for, and it being available. My recommendation is: 1) book in advance (3+ months out), 2) read the reviews (know what you’re getting yourself into!), 3) review the host’s cancellation policy, and 4) when you find “the one,” book it.
LASTLY, ACT FAST:
So you have the time off, you find a flight deal, and you luck out with the perfect hotel or Airbnb — what’s next? The secret sauce to travelling on the cheap is acting fast.
The #1 mistake I see if people losing out on a deal is not jumping on the opportunity.
When Chris sends out a travel deal, I make a decision on whether I’m going to hop on the deal within a couple of hours. Often the deals are gone within a day.
You don’t have an opportunity to hesitate.
My rule is if you want to go <insert amazing place> and you can afford the trip, then book it.
WONDERING WHERE TO GO?
Dreaming of where you should go on your next trip? Here are a few of my faves:
- Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, BC
- Hot tip: Double check to see if Booking.com or booking through NLL’s “BC & Washington Resident VIP Package” has the better rates.
- Ocean-View Cabin in Sechelt, BC
- Hot tip: Book way in advance because it’s a hot ticket item on the Sunshine Coast!
- Beach Club Resort in Parksville, BC
- Hot tip: An ocean-view room is a must!
- Napili Sunset Beachfront Resort in Maui, HI
- Hot tip: Ask for room #201 or #202 if you want a pool-room that has a view of the ocean.
- Yuma’s House in Caye Caulker, Belize
- Hot tip: Just do it.
And… these gems are on my travel bucket list:
- Cob Cottage on Mayne Island, BC
- Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet, BC
- BlueBird Guest Bus on Haida Gwaii, BC
- Gingerbread Cottage in Point Roberts, WA
- Hobbit House in Bellingham, WA
- Dome in the Desert in Joshua Tree, CA
May your 2016 be filled with cheap flights, sweet cabins and soul recovery.
(And no, no one told me to write this post, or paid me, etc etc. I just wrote it, all on my own, for YOU.)