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2017: The Year You Make Travel Happen

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daring travel sky dive
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to travel more. It’s right up there with eating better and going to the gym more.

And, like so many other resolutions, this one starts with the best of intentions and motivations but often fails.

When asked why, most people make up some reason involving time and money. They ran out of time, life got in the way, they forgot to ask for time off, work got too busy, they never saved enough, couldn’t find a cheap ticket, yada, yada, yada.

Tomorrow is the day to hit the gym, give up pizza, read more, or find that cheap trip to Paris.

But, when you dive deeper, you usually find people don’t follow through because they are too afraid to commit. They half-checked flights, looked up some hotels, and maybe even went to a bookstore to buy a guidebook. But when it came down to purchasing the trip, they hemmed and hawed and said, “Let me think about it a little. Maybe tomorrow.”

After all, change is hard. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard. It takes dedicated mental energy.

Turning a dream into a reality can elicit a sort of “ohh f%%k, this is happening” moment. There’s always a mix of excitement and fear. “Yes!” to doing it but also an “uhh, what did I get myself into?” feeling.

The second you buy your plane ticket, there’s no going back. You’re going. You’re locked in.

Soon you’ll be in a place you know nothing about, where you know no one, and (maybe) don’t speak the language.

The reality of that stops more people than you think from hitting “Book Now” because they aren’t sure they are “ready.”

Now, I know that you, dear reader, have a sense of adventure. You’re reading this blog, right? This is probably not your problem.

But time and/or money? These things probably worry you.

Someone literally asked me in an email last week: “Why do people still think travel is expensive?!”

When I read that, I screamed at my computer, arms flailing, yelling “Right? Why indeed? That is such a good question! I still can’t figure it out! It drives me insane!”

With all the blogs, magazines, apps, travel hacking websites, and deal sites out there, you would think the persistent myth that travel is expensive would have started to fade away by now. But it is still there. It’s hard to get rid of for the millions of people who grew up in the age of “travel = expensive hotel/resort vacation.” For the other millions in countries that are just getting the purchasing power to think about overseas travel, travel is very much still a luxury.

And luxury is synonymous with expensive.

However, there are travel deals all the time if you know where to look. 2016 saw some incredible cheap fares, and 2017 is shaping up to be no different. (There are some crazy $400 USD round-trip flights to Europe right now.) Additionally, the sharing economy has only grown in recent years, allowing you to bypass the old travel gatekeepers, and connect with locals for a cheaper trip.

So today, I’m going to get you somewhere in the world. I’m going to show you the secret to finding a cheap vacation so you can start 2017 off right and not back out of your resolution. Ready?

First, go to one of these websites: The Flight Deal, Holiday Pirates, or Secret Flying. Look for a cheap flight to a place you want to go to.

Second, book a flight. Lock yourself into a trip. Don’t worry about anything else. I promise you everything will work out. You can worry about a hotel, what to pack, day-to-day expenses, time off, what to do, etc., later. Those things don’t matter and there are many ways to cut those expenses! Worry about the logistics later.

Third, well, that’s all there is to it. There is no third.

Once you make the commitment by buying a flight, the rest is easy. Over and over again, I hear from travelers, “I was so worried about my trip. I built it up in my head so much and began to fret about all the ‘what ifs,’ but once I got on the road, it all fell into place and I wondered why I was ever worried at all.”

I know it seems scary to take the leap, especially when you are on your own. I know it can be unnerving to run out of your comfort zone. It’s basically this cartoon below, right?

The simple act of hitting “go” takes mental work!

But I’m here for you. This site is a virtual hand. I’m here to take the leap with you together. To be there to reassure you along the way, take away your fears, answer any of your questions, and provide support. (Plus, we have a whole community of people to help you too!)

How I’m Going to Help Make 2017 the Year of Travel

Today, I’m bringing back the case study project. I’m going to take five readers and help them plan their trip from start to finish. I’m going to help them each step of the way (as much as they need me to) and use their examples to show again that you don’t need to be rich to travel – or that you just aren’t limited to cheaper, developing countries.

To be one of those readers, you simply need to book a flight within 24 hours of this blog post going up. The first five people to do that and send me proof are in. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, where you are going, or for how long. SPOTS ARE FULL! THANKS FOR APPLYING!

Just email a screenshot of where you are going, as well as the following information: your name, phone number, and age; a short bio; the ideal budget for your trip; and anything else I need to know. (Please keep it to no more than two paragraphs.)

There are no fees or strings attached. I’ll work with you via email, phone, and Skype to create a plan and help you stick to it so you can travel sooner than you planned and for less money.

I’ll feature these case studies on the blog when they are done as a way to help and inspire others (so you have to be OK with sharing your story on the website).

If you want to go somewhere but have always been a bit too afraid to pull the trigger, do so today, and let me help guide you out the door.

I will take your hand and we will leap together.

– Matt

P.S. – Looking for another way to kick start your new year? Over at the forums, we are doing our quarterly Travel Action Challenge, where you win prizes (like a $100 USD Amazon.com gift card) !

P.P.S. – If you would like to help underprivileged students travel more, we’re currently fundraising for a group of students to go volunteer in Ecuador. Help us reach our goal, change someone’s life by exposing them to the world of travel, and get some travel swag in the process. It’s a trip win!

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When A Sweet Tooth Travels Around North America

We spoke with our colleagues and compiled a list of three of our favorite cities that are chock full of sweets.

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     So, you have a crazy sweet tooth but no one nearby has quite the ideal selection to satisfy your sugar-addicted palette. What are you to do? You might be able to find poor/cheap knock-offs on Amazon or another online candy conglomerate, but we both know your true feelings. You won’t be sweetly satisfied until the real-deal sweetness touches your tongue – sending your dopamines into a frenzy. When the cravings hit, there’s no turning back. 

We talked to our colleagues and compiled a list of our favorite cities that are chock full of sweets so you can satisfy your sweet tooth while on a lovely vacation. I mean really, why can’t you have both?

OCEAN CITY, NEW JERSEY

     Ocean City is known for its historic boardwalk. There are a variety of specialized shops that sell all the sweets you can imagine. From ice cream to fudge to taffy, you will find it all at the Ocean City boardwalk. Bakeries, candy shops, and ice cream parlors will leave you foaming at the mouth and you’ll be in a sugar coma in no time. But don’t worry, if you need to get your salt levels up then just hop in the ocean and take a few swallows. Now your salt and sugar levels are balanced out. Is that how it works? We have no idea, we’re not scientists. Whatever your plans are, Ocean City has you covered when it comes to your east coast needs. 

ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO, CANADA

     If you love donuts, then St. Catharines is the place you’ve got to check out. This place has a huge selection of donuts, so bring a big appetite and some waist-expanding pants. You can put down dozen after dozen of donuts and never eat the same one twice. One store alone offers up to 20 different donuts each day. So, expand your donut horizons while stuffing your face. Donuts are heavenly and so is St. Catharines.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

     The home of Snoop Dogg is also home to the ice cream capital of the US. Residents in this city eat more ice cream than any other city in the country. Now that’s a lot of ice cream! You can find the regular flavors everywhere, or you can experiment with new ones like goat cheese, whiskey fig ice cream, or salted caramel fudge. No matter what kind of ice cream you want, you’ll find mounds of it in the LBC. Now that’s what I call sublime.

Remember, your hometown surely has a secret treat that you’re not really aware of but remember, a vacation can bring you much more than just some R&R. Let it bring with it the sweets of your dreams. 


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Water Sport Resorts Just In Time For Summer

If you are like me then a summer vacation isn’t complete without some awesome water sports.

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     No summer vacation is complete without some soothing and exciting water sports. Temperatures are rising allowing for a perfectly comfortable dip in the ocean or pool or lake. Finding resorts with adequate water activities isn’t easy, so… we sorted through the opportunities and found the best destinations.

CASA MARINA RESORT, FLORIDA

     If perfect weather, calm waters and incredible ocean life sounds like a dream vacation, the Florida Keys should be your choice. Check out Casa Marina resort in the Keys for an amazing vacation adventure. The neighboring coral reefs offer world-class snorkeling and diving and the resort has all the watercraft you could ever want to rent. Sailboats and wave runners await your visit to the Florida Keys.

CLUB MED CANCUN YUCATAN, MEXICO

     Cancun is known for powder sand beaches and all-night parties but did you know it has some of the best water sports in all of the Caribbean? Sitting on a shallow bay, Club Med Cancun Yucatan offers incredible water activities in a very safe environment. Enjoy everything from sailing, scuba and kite surfing to more memorable events like swimming with dolphins.

ANTHONY’S KEY RESORT, HONDURAS

     If nature is calling, check out Anthony’s Key Resort in Honduras for the ultimate marine adventure. The Roatan Institute for Marine Science is located around the corner and offers everything from swimming with dolphins to feeding rare marine life. They offer a kids camp so your children can enjoy an educational experience while you enjoy more adult-friendly activities.

MADDEN’S ON GULL LAKE, MINNESOTA

   If oceans aren’t your thing, try a fun lake adventure instead. Try Madden’s on Gull Lake in Minnesota, a sprawling resort on Brainerd Lake. The kids will enjoy the water trampolines and massive blob while the adults will enjoy water skiing and jet skiing. With its close proximity to the major cities in the Midwest, Madden’s is always a popular choice.

THE BITTER END YACHT CLUB, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

     Maybe fancy yachts are more your speed and if that is so, you have to check out The Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands. On this island, luxury takes center stage and adventure awaits the willing. The open ocean is calling all you sailing enthusiasts and they even have a kid’s camp where your children can learn to love sailing.

FOUR SEASONS MAUI, HAWAII

     You can’t have a list of awesome beach resorts and not include Hawaii. The Four Seasons Maui offers every kind of water activity in the luxurious Hawaiian waters. You must try the authentic Hawaiian Outrigger Canoes, they offer free lessons and it’s a blast. Whale watching is also huge here so book a tour and see some huge marine life.

LOEWS CORONADO BAY RESORT, CALIFORNIA

     California is home to some epic surf breaks so why not stay at a resort that offers free lessons. Loews Coronado Bay Resort rents out sailboats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards so all the bases are covered.


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The Lifestyles & Vacations Of The Rich & The Famous

Check out where the richest people vacation and how they spend their money.

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     Where would you go on vacation if money wasn’t an issue and you had all the time in the world? Personally, I would rent a private island and partake in a castaway experience with only the most luxurious amenities. Well, the super-rich have the ability to go anywhere they wish and do literally whatever money can buy, how awesome must that be? Check out the locales where the richest people in the world vacation.

BILL GATES: CROATIA

     Unlike many of the super-rich, Bill Gates likes to mix and mingle with the locals when he vacations. He enjoys Croatia for its old Europe feel and medieval construction. The hot spot in Europe, Croatia is enjoying a tourism boom, which is centered around the countries pleasurable weather and affordable luxury. Bill Gates doesn’t need to save money but who says the super-rich can’t be frugal?

RICHARD BRANSON: BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

     Why not just go all out like Richard Branson and buy your own island. That is some next-level stuff there. The Virgin Mobile/Records/Airlines etc entrepreneur and billionaire owns Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The private island is an actual resort where rooms rent for a minimum of $5,000 a night. Luminaries such as the Obamas and Mariah Carey have stayed here before. Wow, talk about luxury, a private island where the former president stays. Enjoy all the watersports you can handle while basking in the hot Caribbean sun.

STEVEN SPIELBERG: IRELAND

     Where do the best directors of all time spend their vacations? Well, if you love Steven Spielberg movies, you’ll know he enjoys incredible landscapes and none are grander than Ireland. The Emerald Isle just is so vibrant and lush that it attracts all sorts of travelers, even the mega-rich. Ireland isn’t a vacation that will break your bank, in fact, it’s one of the most affordable trips you could choose. Spielberg loved the countryside, the people, and the food, what’s really not to love?

OPRAH WINFREY: FIJI

     Where does one of the most influential women of all time vacation? Wherever the heck she wants, is the only acceptable answer, she is the queen of entertainment. Oprah recently went on a luxury superyacht called the Rising Sun, where she partied with The Obamas and Bruce Springsteen in Tahiti. When she stays on land she prefers the beaches of Fiji. The island of Fiji features luxury at every turn but when Oprah is there she reserves the entire resort.

WARREN BUFFETT: LAGUNA BEACH

     The man who is in charge of our country’s wealth, Warren Buffett is a billionaire of the most frugal standards. He’s lived in the same modest home in Omaha Nebraska since 1958 and only splurges on vacations, so where does he go? He owned a lavish beach home in Laguna Beach, California where the rich and fabulous play. Laguna Beach is very accessible for the non-rich so check it out for yourself. The steep cliffs and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean will have you coming back for years.


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