It’s the start of a new decade and a time when we make personal promises and goals to start fresh. For many, that promise or resolve is to see more of the world, or at least start with a tiny corner of it!
Here are some ways to make 2020 a year of exploring — and keep it on budget.
11 Things You Can Do to Feed Your Wanderlust This Year
1. Gather Your Documents
Beginning October 1, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or driver’s license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.
2. Find the Time
Many of us start the year with a calendar already filled in with obligatory trips like weddings, reunions, graduations and tons of children’s sports and activities closer to home. Regardless of where you must be, add a night or two more to explore the nearby attractions.
3. Figure Out the Finances
Consider travel credit cards to earn free flights, hotel stays and other valuable perks. Many offer large welcome bonuses to earn points or miles for travel. Or, look at the best cash back reward cards that pay 2% to 5% on select purchases.
4. Broke? Start a Travel Savings Plan!
Make it a daily practice to save! Find ways to reduce common expenses to add to what you’ve already allotted to spend on a vacation. Saving for a trip is as simple as C-L-A-R-K. Here’s how to save $500 starting with $10 a week. Or, begin to budget for a 2021 trip with this tool: How to Save $5,000 With the 52-Week Money Challenge.
5. Just Go
A getaway doesn’t have to be lengthy or even by air. Start with a one-tank road trip from home with just an overnight or two. Google “Day trips from (your town).”
A road trip is a good time to rent a larger vehicle for the gang and gear. Many neighborhood rental locations offer weekend rates from $10-$20 a day.
If your travels require a flight, search for deals as far in advance as possible. Major airlines offer ticket purchases up to 341 days in advance. Low-fare airlines offer the best one-way rates on last-minute trips.
Consider vacation rentals to save bucks when your group requires multiple bedrooms, a kitchen and other amenities such as a pool, beachfront or city center.
For a unique and affordable experience, give camping or glamping a go. Search over 300,000 campgrounds, ranches, vineyards, glamping and tent camping, treehouses, cabins, yurts, primitive backcountry sites, car camping, Airstreams, tiny houses, RV camping, and more at Hip Camp.
6. Let Your Destination Find You
At the start of a new year, you’ll see endless articles on hot new spots or where to travel in 2020. This may come as a shocker, but ignore that advice. Instead, let a great low airfare dictate your destination versus being set on where you need to go.
Clark Howard’s travel philosophy is simple: “My first rule of travel is to find a great airfare deal or affordable destination – then figure out a reason to go there,” he says. “Eventually, you’ll see the world at a fraction of the normal price!”
7. Shop Smart for Vacations
Google has rolled out a fun new feature that lets you price out a complete air and lodging vacation in just a few seconds.
Enter your departure airport and a destination with dates. Results will display on the regional map with complete per person prices shown in blue bubbles. You can filter results by per person price, the category of hotel, hotel guest ratings, airlines, flight connections and amenities like kid-friendly, beach access and more.
It’s somewhat limited to major cities but it will reveal what you can expect to pay for a bundled air and lodging vacay.
Google Flights is the top website to begin your search for airfare deals. Results will include an indication if the price you found is high or low for your dates.
8. Consider These Trip Ideas
Get to know your travel style. Chat with your family or travel mate about what you expect from a holiday. Is it to be active, see museums and attractions, lay on a beach for a week, or stroll ancient streets with no real purpose?
Places to Consider for Families
Consider Las Vegas beyond the casinos to ride the Las Vegas High Roller Observation Wheel (kids six and under ride free), visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, free fall 855-feet at SkyJump at the Stratosphere or head out of town to hike the beautiful Red Rock Canyon.
Take a family ski trip to Park City, Utah (an hour outside of Salt Lake City) where there are ski and boarding options for all ages and abilities — and where kids can join ski camps with age-appropriate activities.
Or, go big with an adventure to Costa Rica, a small country big on nature, wildlife, beaches, tropical forests and family-friendly accommodations.
Places to Consider for Veteran Travelers
Go beyond the usual London, Paris, and Rome to smaller villages and towns for a more authentic experience and fewer tourists.
For instance, if overwhelmed Venice is on your must-see list, consider visiting the endearing French city of Annecy for its lack of crowds but beautiful mountains, a freshwater lake, lovely canals and ornate bridges.
Skip Amsterdam for Rotterdam (a 40 minute train ride away), completely reconstructed following WWII and renowned for its bold, modern architecture.
Or, give Utrecht a look. Just a 25 minute rail trip from the Dutch capital, you’ll find quaint canals, cultural attractions, and a lively nightlife.
9. Add an Experience
Airbnb now offers a way to book 30,000+ unique experiences, activities, and tours (no Airbnb rental required) that range from cooking and dining with locals to magical encounters with animals to dance classes, wine tastings and more. They offer a deep-dive into the local host’s world through their passion. Prices vary by location and event.
10. Don’t Forget About Cruises
Save maximum dollars on November cruises before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving up to Christmas week and the entire month of January. The most expensive time to cruise is mid-June until late August (when school’s out). Spring break weeks will also see premium fares.
Best values are often found on 4-day cruises, with rates averaging $87 per person, per day throughout the course of the year. Rates on five-day cruises average $92; it’s $99 for 6-days and $107 for a one-week cruise (according to Cruzely).
The cruise industry also offers deep discounts during Wave Season, from January-March. It’s an ideal time to save on 2020 and 2021 cruises. Whether you’re a veteran cruiser or newbie, we strongly suggest booking through a local cruise professional. Find one in your neighborhood at Cruising.org.
11. Go Solo
More than 100 solo travel trips from 20+ tour operators are updated each month at Solo Traveler. Find trips where you can travel alone but join a small group tour without paying a hefty single supplement (sometimes 100% more).
Trips might consist of river cruising, cycling, cooking, safaris and more. Women-only tours are available. It’s a great resource to explore for those who dream of getting out of their comfort zone but need some encouragement or have no one to travel with.
It’s a new year, so it’s time to leave those old excuses behind. Use this list as inspiration to get out there and find yourself in some new places in 2020!