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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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Travel

Stay Safe from the Summer Sun

We’ll share insights, hassle free tricks and clear up some common misunderstandings about sunscreen.

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Summer is here everyone and so is the intense sun so it’s about that time that we talk about how important sunscreen is.   There are certain things about sunscreen that we all should know and we made this helpful list to inform the masses. We’ll share insights, hassle free tricks and clear up some common misunderstandings about sunscreen.

 

No Skimping

It’s important to get sunscreen on every part of skin that gets sunlight, which includes your hairline, scalp and ears. Dermatologists see skin cancer pop up in these spots more often than any other. That’s a direct reflection of how people often skimp in these danger zones.

 

Anti-ager

Sunscreen doesn’t only keep you from getting torched by the summer sun; it also acts as an anti-ager. Yes, sunscreen makes you look younger, awesome! No need to get Botox injections, instead just use some facial sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher everyday, even on a cloudy day. Sun exposure really messes up your skin especially after years of neglecting sunscreen. If you want healthy looking and feeling skin for years, just use sunscreen.

 

Tan equals damage

Remember that no matter how pretty your tan is it is still skin damage. The sun’s rays are powerful and no amount of base tan will help you out. Keep SPF on anytime you go into the sun, just to be safe.

 

SPF Sprays are good

Don’t worry about spray tans not covering you; as long as you follow the instructions, the spray actually does its job. I do the 1:3 rule, that’s spraying 1-inch from the skin and I make 3 passes with the spray.

 

Higher SPF the Better

The SPF is usually much lower than it’s marked because of user error. I tend to go with an SPF around 50 because when using a SPF of 30 it’s really only about 15. We usually don’t apply a thick enough layer to actually get the listed SPF.

 

Umbrellas don’t have SPF

Umbrellas may block some of the sun’s harmful rays but more UV rays make it through than you think. That’s why umbrellas are never substitutes for good old-fashioned sunscreen. Umbrellas are great, don’t get me wrong, but they need to be used along with sunscreen instead of replacing it.

 

Baseball caps are not great

Sure baseball caps block the sun from your eyes, but they do nothing for the rest of your head and neck, which is why a sun hat is exponentially better.

 

Rash guards

Stop wearing a white T-shirt to keep the sun off of your tender skin and try a rash guard instead. Did you know that a white T-shirt only has an SPF of 7 and when that shirt gets wet it drops the number to 3. Wow, that’s not very good, so now you’ll understand why rash guards are the way to go. They have sun protection built in and won’t make your skin break out from friction.

 

Skin cancer

Just using sunscreen won’t guarantee anyone from not getting sun damage or cancer; it will only help prevent it.

 

Just use sunscreen and you won’t have to worry about all the negative effects the sun can and will have on your body.

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Destinations

Ukraine: An Underrated Tourist Destination In Europe

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When many people think of taking a European vacation they probably imagine strolling along the Seine with their lover, or seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence. I mean, those are both two amazing things to do. However most people would even consider traveling to Ukraine. It is a country at war, the winters tend to be unbearable, and Eastern Europeans have a reputation of being unfriendly. All that being said, Ukraine is still an underrated tourist destination and one that should be on travelers radar.

What Is There To Do In Ukraine?

Ukraine is a large country. In fact, it’s the largest country entirely in Europe. This means that there is something for everyone! From adventure travelers to those just looking to relax, you can spend months exploring the country and still not tire of things to see and do.

If you are looking for a city break you can’t skip out on the capital of Kyiv, nor the cultural capital of Lviv. For adrenaline junkies you can go skiing in Bukovel, or white water rafting in Vorokhta. And if you are just a good old nature lover then camping by the sunken city of Bakota or the uninhabited Dzharylhach island could be for you.

5 Amazing Places To Visit In Ukraine

1. Lviv – A Beautiful City In Western Ukraine

The cultural capital of Lviv has a storied history. From being the capital of the kingdom of Rus to a part of Poland, the pearl of the Austrian Empire to the gem of an independent Ukraine. There are so many things to do in Lviv almost anyone can have a great time.

For dining I highly recommend a trip to the most popular restaurant in Lviv, Kryivka. This restaurant in a bunker under Rynok square is themed, but don’t let that put you off. The walls are papered with interesting artefacts from one of the most tumultous periods in Lviv history. Youc an see old military medals, propaganda posters, and plenty of old (non-functioning) weapons.

2. Bakota – A Less Than Easy Place To Go Camping Like A Local

The site of a submerged city, Bakota, is currently a reservoir connecting to the Bug river. This is a very popular camping spot for Ukrainians and there are plenty of activities you can do. I like to just relax and enjoy nature, but you can go boating, fishing, or hiking the cliffs around the area.

You will need a car to get there as public transportation doesn’t really exist, but that just means you’ll have to do a bit of car camping.

3. Dzharylhach Island – The Largest Island In The Black Sea

Dzharylhach Island is an uninhabited island in the Kherson region of Ukraine that is another beautiful place to camp. You can only get there by taking a ferry from the mainland, and there are no accommodations other than tents. Rest on the soft white sand or play with the dolphins that come very close to shore.

If you do spend some time there you have to try the island specialty – stingray borsch! This soup is made daily by the shanty little cafe near the pier. And don’t forget to see the sunset by the famous Dzharylhach Lighthouse!

4. The Pink Lake – One Of The Most Unique Places In All Ukraine

Located on Arabatska Strilka, about 6 hours by bus from Kherson City, is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole country. Officially named Henichesk Lake, this natural pink lake is an amazing sight to behold.

The color is due to a non-harmful bacteria that thrives in the high salt content of the lake. Many people even take salt home to cook with it, I know I brought a few kilos back! Make sure to wade out as far as you can go so you can see the most naturally pink section.

5. Kyiv – The Capital Of Ukraine

No list about places to see in Ukraine would be complete without Kyiv. A capital going back all the way to Kievan Rus, the city is a mix of classic Eastern European architecture and ugly Soviet commie-blocks. However don’t let the ugliness deter you. The city is lively and fun if you know how to do it right.

Spend some time at the Bukta food center on the Dniper river, or hit up an amazing pool party in the warm months. Walk through beautifully manicured parks and see the Mariinsky Palace, or visit the Pechersk Lavra – an historic cave monastery filled with the bodies of Orthodox saints.

About the author:

Alona Tiunina is a travel blogger from Ukraine who has been to (almost) every region in the country. When she is not traveling she enjoys binge watching Netflix and scouring airline tickets for her next trip.

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Travel

Super Secret Summer Travel Deals

 Let’s explore some exciting ways to save money on your family vacation or your super singles weekend getaway.

 

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The temperatures are rising, your kid’s school is winding down and it’s almost time for your yearly summer vacation, but how can you afford it? Not to worry, we have the super secret deals on all your summer vacation needs. Whether you prefer a beach destination, outdoors adventure or swanky five-star hotels, we got the hook up. Let’s explore some exciting ways to save money on your family vacation or your super singles weekend getaway.

 

Cheapest Destinations

Of all the popular destinations this summer we found the three with the best deals and most enticing perks.

Canada

This is the season to check out Canada and see what this great country has to offer. Not only is Canada beautiful and widely overlooked on vacationer’s travel lists, but this is the country’s 150th anniversary so all of their National Parks are free to visit. Yes, I said FREE. You can check out what these amazing Canadian National Parks have to offer, like the pure unbridled natural beauty of Banff National Park for free.

Canada’s dollar is also worth less than the American dollar, so your money goes a long way up North. On average you will save 20-30% on everything because of the favorable dollar price.

 

Yellowstone

If you want to stay in the states, Yellowstone National Park is a great way to go. See the epic geysers and all the other natural wonders that prehistoric park offer.  Head up to Wyoming and check out the vast 3,500 plus square miles of untouched nature and see some serious wild animals. Expect bears, wolves, elk, bison and antelope, just to name a few.

 

Fort Lauderdale

If fun in the sun is your vacation of choice, Sunny Florida is a great way to catch some rays and swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean. Ft. Lauderdale is a much cheaper destination than its pricey neighbor, Miami. Get the same weather, same powder white sandy beaches and all the beach amenities for half the price of nearby hot spots. You can make day trips to Orlando for Disney or Universal Studios and check out the awesome Everglades National Park too.

 

Best Airline Deals

If you are looking to fly on vacation saving big on flights can help with your overall budget. Check out these airlines that are seriously cutting prices this summer and offering up great deals.

Norwegian

If you are looking for awesome deals check out Norwegian Airlines, who offer the best deals to Europe right now. The Scandinavian company is hooking customers up this summer so check them out if you want to go to Europe.

 

 

WOW

Offering the cheapest deals to Iceland and parts of Europe, WOW Airlines is hurting other airlines with their bottom basement prices. It’s a great time to fly to Europe with these super cheap deals.

 

Side Notes:

 

Avoid Sunday July 9

The busiest travel day this summer will undoubtedly be Sunday July 9th, the Sunday After July 4th. This day will be a nightmare on the roads, in the air and in terminals at airports and train stations all over the U.S. Avoid travel on this day if at all possible.

As always Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest and least busy days to travel so book your flights and trips on these two days.

 

Unlock some serious summer savings and turn the vacation of your dreams into a reality.

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