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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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Moving To A Job For A 6 Or 12-Month Contract: Tips To Succeed

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Working full-time at a company for years simply is not for everyone. There are those people with great skills that prefer to work on a contract basis. This could be for a year or for 6 months depending on the need of the client. The best aspect of contract work is that hours over 40 per week can be charged at a high rate. This will help reduce the chances of being asked to work a long weekend as it will be very expensive for the company. The truth is that you are not obligated outside of your 40 hours per week to do anything else. Below are tips to help you succeed when you are constantly taking on new contracts in various parts of the country.

Remote Roles Are Superior

The truth is that as a contractor you likely will want to find a remote role. Relocation can come with a number of issues and a multitude of stress. The one variable to consider is that some contractors take jobs in new locations so they can explore the country. The number of remote roles is exploding as so many people are refusing to head back to the office. The pandemic showed companies and professionals that they could maintain productivity while working at home. The convenience led some professionals to vow to never return to a traditional work environment. 

Moving To A New City 

Moving to a new city for a contract can be a blast as you have a certain amount of time that you will be there. You will likely try to find a rental but purchasing furniture is not something that would be considered a good investment. Furniture rental is likely the best option if you do not want to have to deal with moving furniture across the country when you get another contract. You want to get the most out of living in your new city which likely does not include going shopping for furniture. Take the time to look into all of your options for lodging as well as what part of a city that you would like to live in. 

Be Realistic About Your Workload

Contractors can be taken advantage of by some companies as there is very little recourse for them. With this being said, there are contracts that will pay contractors through the entire contract even if they are terminated. You want to be paid on the same level as people that are just as productive as you. Being supremely productive might just lead to more work. You want to thrive in a new contract role without setting expectations far too high to sustain for the entire duration of the contract. 

The ability to get new contracts regularly that pay well provides ultimate convenience. The ability to take a few months off after a contract allows you to rejuvenate mentally. Use the tips above so you will never have an issue finding a new contract due to the great reputation you have built. 

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Don’t Break The Bank When You Travel

Check out these great money saving tips so you don’t go broke taking your next vacation. 

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There’s really no way around it: traveling is expensive. On top of the obvious charges like flights and hotels, there will always be the little daily expenses that you didn’t fully prepare for when you were preparing for your trip. But the last thing you want to do is just not think about it and throw money around like a madman. There are definitely still ways to save money while traveling. And here they are!

THE TUESDAY RULE

I have to admit, I didn’t even really know about this “rule” before I started writing this article. But, for the most part, the cheapest flights of the week are almost always on a Tuesday. So, if you can, try to schedule all your flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This can dramatically lower the cost of your vacation.

DON’T BOTHER WITH HOTELS

Thanks to rental services like Airbnb and VRBO the hotel industry has really taken a hit. And prices have gone way up because of it. So, no matter how bad we may feel about their declining business, they’re just not the best option anymore. You can find a great deal with all the service and amenities you need from one of the vacation rental sites. There are even a few sites that deal in “house-swapping” where you basically just stay in each other’s homes during simultaneous vacations and don’t have to pay a thing!

BOOK DIRECTLY THROUGH THE AIRLINE

Many of the flight booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity actually don’t offer as many options as are available to you if you book through the airline. There are other services like Google Flights and Skyscanner that find the cheapest flights being offered by the airlines, and then you can just contact the airline yourself and book those specific flights. It’s a little extra work, but it can end up saving you more money than you think.

A LITTLE SPONTANEITY NEVER HURT ANYONE

Sure, doing your homework and planning ahead can most certainly help you save money on a vacation. But sometimes there are last minute deals made available when airlines are just trying to fill out their flights. So if you have a favorite airline, sign up for the mailing list. This way you’ll know when they are offering really cheap flights. And if you’re in the mood to just get out town regardless of where you’re going, this is a really cheap and fun option.

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

Vacation is the time to relax and leave your normal day-to-day worries behind. The last thing you want is to stress out over your transportation.

Whether you’re traveling near or far, there are fine reasons to rent a car rather than drive your own vehicle or depend on public transit. Here are a few:

1. Save wear on your own car.

Depending on how far you travel, driving will add a lot of miles on your car. You might as well wear out someone else’s vehicle instead of your own.

Plus, if your own car is old or in bad condition, renting one could help you avoid potential road trouble. Rental cars are highly reliable because they are usually newer models and kept in top shape.

So no matter where you go, you can be fairly confident you won’t get stuck on the side of the road.

2. Save money.

If your car eats a lot of fuel, you might save a lot on gasoline by driving a rental. They’re typically fuel-efficient because they are newer models. And you might be surprised to learn you could save around 15% by booking a rental car at the last minute!

3. Travel safely.

Another reason to choose a rental car over other modes of transportation is safety. Think about it.

In a taxi, you’re relying on another driver. Aboard a train, bus, or subway line, you’re packed into a tight space with many other people. It’s better to be in control of the wheel.

If you drive your own car, and it’s older or already has issues, you run the risk of your car malfunctioning and causing an accident. Rentals are much more reliable because they’re well maintained.

That said, if you’re ever involved in a car crash, make sure to consult an experienced auto-accident attorney. He or she will help you file any insurance or legal claims and make sure you arrive at the best resolution.

4. Drive more comfortably.

Rental cars are kept squeaky clean, so they feel like brand-new vehicles. This will make your travel much more comfortable, compared to your own vehicle, which may be dirty– or at best, cluttered.

You can also choose a car to rent that you wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to drive. Maybe a nice Mercedes Benz or a new Audi.

This is a great way to test-drive nice cars to see what they feel like. And it’s way better than cramming into a subway car or a bus.

5. Show off your ride.

Rental cars not only feel nice on the inside; they also look good on the outside. This means you can drive in style and make a good impression wherever you go. Just be sure you always lock the doors and keep your valuables out of sight, so nobody is tempted to break in!

6. Keep a flexible schedule.

Renting a car means you can come and go as you please. No need to hail a taxi or wait on a bus; just drive when you feel like it.

If you have a full itinerary, it’s faster to get from place to place with a rented vehicle than by relying on public transportation. You’ll have more time for sightseeing and getting in all you want to.

7. Enjoy more privacy.

In a rental car, you can have your own space. You don’t need to worry about strangers listening in on your conversations or making you feel uncomfortable. Travel with privacy.

8. Carry your luggage more easily.

Finally, transferring your luggage between buses, trains, and subways can be a pain. When you have your own rental, you can keep your stuff in your trunk wherever you go. It’s much less hassle and requires less energy.

The Bottom line

When you plan your next vacation, think about getting a rental car. It should make the experience more enjoyable, and that’s what vacation is all about.

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