Do you dream of exploring the ruins of ancient Greece, navigating the United States' capital city or soaking up rays on the beautiful shores of the Caribbean? You’ve been bit by the all-too-common travel bug. But with all the options the world has to offer, it can be tough to know where (or how) to get started.
Travel planning can be overwhelming. From finding the right combination of days, time and price for plane tickets to coordinating each day’s activities, it takes patience and know-how to come up with a solid plan. And, depending on your budget or perceptions on the cost of travel, you might be hesitant to even begin pursuing your travel dream.
Don’t let that stop you! Ask anyone who’s had the opportunity to see a different corner of the world and they’ll tell you it can be one of the most rewarding and transformative experiences of a lifetime.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our list of top-notch travel resources and get ready to jet off to your dream destination.
Get Inspired to Travel
If you’re looking to explore the world through someone else’s eyes before you begin your own adventures, read up on savvy travel tips and learn from seasoned globetrotters on these blogs:
Rick Steves’ Travel Blog — Gain insight from the travel king himself and study up on some of the world’s most traveled destinations. Rick writes about current travel news and themes and could inspire your travel dreams!
Adventure Journal — For the more serious outdoorsmen and women, this blog is chock-full of smart tips and intriguing stories about backpacking, camping and trekking through the wild side of life.
Classe Touriste — Tired of the typical big-city stops, tourist traps and the crowds that come with them? Specializing in off-the-beaten-path destinations, this blog will inspire you to explore the farthest corners of the world.
Nomadic Matt — Looking to travel on a budget? Check out Matt’s tips! He’s got insight to share on everything from finding cheap flights to how you can actually make money while you travel.
Globetotting — Going on trips with kids is no easy task, but having a family is no reason to put your travel dreams on hold. This blog will empower you to show your children the world without breaking the bank (or losing your mind).
Girls Love Travel — GLT is a community of female globetrotters that dedicates itself to giving its members information, research and a wealth of resources to make sure their travels meet their expectations and, above all else, are as safe as possible. Want to find likeminded travelers who share the same interests as you? Join a GLT subgroup and up your travel game exponentially.
How to Book Your Travel
So you’ve done your research, studied your options and now it’s time to put your plans into action! If you’re not really ready to venture off on your own, consider booking through one of these established travel companies:
EF College Break — Specializing in helping people from ages 18 to 28 travel the world, this company is a great option. They offer educational yet fun trips at an affordable price, plus they plan every stop and stay along the way for you!
EF Tours — Owned and operated under the same umbrella as EF College Break, this tour agency is a great way for adults to experience new and exciting destinations world-wide.
International Volunteer HQ — If you’re interested in traveling while actually making a difference in the world, consider going through this philanthropic travel group. They offer affordable, responsible and rewarding trips to over 30 destinations across the globe.
REI Adventures — For the more active traveler, check out these fun and adventurous hiking and biking tours available anywhere from Ireland to the San Juan Islands.
Viator.com — If you’ve already got a trip planned or are comfortable booking everything on your own, viator.com is a great place to scope out exciting and diverse day trips and activities. It’s perfect for filling out your itinerary.
Apple Vacations — If you’re seeking out a more relaxing beach vacation or a week at an all-inclusive resort, this site will help you review your options and narrow them down to the best deal.
Get Rewarded for Your Travels
There are so many programs out there — credit cards, hotel, transportation and more — that let you turn your travel into valuable rewards and satisfy your adventurous appetite. Consider these helpful tips when hunting for rewards:
Credit cards. While you might think it financially savvy to pay for travel with money already in your bank account, plenty of credit cards offer airline miles or other rewards when you use them to purchase. Do plenty of research on the best offers, and aim to pay off your credit card balance each month to avoid unnecessary interest — with good credit card habits, your travel rewards won’t come at the expense of a big credit card bill and lowered credit score.
Hotel programs. Do you and your travel companions like to say at the same hotel brand whenever you go on vacation? Sign up for their rewards program! Often coupled with a credit card, you can rack up hotel points and earn things like free stays, complementary room service and other treats that’ll make your vacation all the more relaxing.
Airline rewards. If you find yourself traveling by air to your destinations, signing up for an airline rewards program might be the easiest way to keep yourself from boring weekends at home. Find an airline that gives stellar service, do your best to use that airline when you fly and rake in those miles.
Want to maximize the rewards? Look for a triple-threat rewards program — one that combines your credit card, hotel and airline rewards all in one.
Where Should I Stay: Hotel or Airbnb?
No longer are travelers only relegated to one type of lodging when they vacation. Now, platforms like Airbnb let qualified and screened homeowners rent their property out to travelers. And if you have an option between staying at a hotel or a rented house, apartment or condo, which should you choose? Let us help:
Hotel consistency. When you stay at a hotel, especially one belonging to a chain you’re familiar with, you can count on a certain look, feel and style of your hotel room. And while rented property websites can give you pictures and descriptions of a place, your temporary home might feel totally different when you get there.
Character. On the other side of the consistency coin lies character — and while you can get character from a hotel room, it often comes at a price many travelers aren’t comfortable with. Rental properties, on the other hand, usually take on the personality of their owner and can add an extra element of fun to your trip.
Location preferences. Hotels are usually in locations surrounded with amenities: restaurants, convenience stores, shopping centers. Rented properties can be just about anywhere. Consider whether you want a place where you have your every need at your fingertips or if you want to spend a few days living, eating and experiencing the area like a local.
Service. Are you the type of traveler that likes to order room service, hit the treadmill in the morning or sit by the pool in the afternoon? Hotels usually offer a wide menu of services and conveniences with your stay, while a rental property likely won’t be able to offer the same hands-on resources.
Food, kitchens and cooking. Most hotels don’t offer kitchens, cupboards or cookware to their guests, while rental properties are much more likely to. Instead of room service, a rental will give you the opportunity to cook your own food, saving plenty of money over room service or dining out.
The group experience. If you’re travelling with a lot of people, rental properties offer a much more communal setting than hotels. However, if your group has members that place high value on their privacy, an individual hotel room might make them a happier traveler.
When Should I Book My Trip
Experts don’t always agree on the best times to shop for hotel rooms, book flights or find the right coupons and promo codes to make your trip more affordable. But take these basic booking trips to heart and you’ll save yourself some stress — and maybe some money, too.
Plan ahead. There’s a lot of excitement in “winging it.” But there are a lot of expenses that come with it, too. Booking your trip early will allow you to plan around your travel costs and avoid the stress that comes with scrambling to find a place to stay.
Be flexible. Going with the flow instead of being very specific about your plans can really save you money — if you don’t have any qualms about early morning flights or vacationing mid-week, you might get more financial freedom in return.
Consider other methods of travel. If your destination is drivable or accessible by train, you can have a whole different experience than that of flying. Prices and stress levels will vary, but opening yourself up to new travel methods can add another element of joy to your vacationing.
No matter where you long to go or what you want to do when you get there, tapping into these resources should help make your planning easier and, hopefully, more fun! Now get started on building your world-traveler resume — because once you reach your destination, you’ll never want to stop exploring. Happy travels!
Want more tips and motivation? Join the dream movement today — we’ve got just the resources to help support and guide you along any dream pursuit. And don’t forget to get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent to protect yourself and your belongings from the unexpected while you’re on the road, riding the tracks or in the sky.