Travel & Leisure

2017 The Year You Make Travel Happen

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?

Best description of the 20 seconds of courage challenge that @SteveKamb talks about. #20secondchallenge #nerdfitness

— Krissy Valentine (@WannabeFitGrl) December 20, 2016

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 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!

Why Its Never the Right Time to Travel

Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes our regular column on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice for other women travelers to help cover the topics important and specific to them! She’s amazing and knowledgeable. This post covers why there will always be reasons not to travel and how there will never be the perfect time to go!

Life is short — we have limited time to do the things that we really want to do. It’s also a voyage — or a sack of coins that are yours alone to spend. (Those are my metaphors for life, anyway.) And it’s supposed to be fun. For a lot of people, that means not waiting until retirement to travel but rather getting out there and exploring now.

If you want to travel now, but you’re scared to go it alone, you’ll be able to find excuses everywhere if you look for them. You’ll find ways to say you can’t do it right now: you’re not ready; your job, friends, or fears are holding you back; you have too many obligations.

Basically, these excuses mean you’ll never get on the road. Because at every stage of your life, you’ll be able to find a reason why it can’t work for you. It will never be the right time to travel — especially as a woman…1) …because you’ll always be asked when you’ll settle down…

The Ruta 40 just outside of El ChalténA common question I get from people back home concerns when I’m going to “settle down.” Don’t I want a relationship and a family of my own? My question back to them is: Why is traveling and having a family mutually exclusive in this day and age? Families travel all the time, and some even full-time.

Of course, I have had to make choices, and there are sister lives that I didn’t live because I chose to travel. I won’t know what could have been with the handsome Frenchie, because I didn’t choose to stop being a travel writer and move in with him. It might have been nice, and naturally I can’t ever be sure that I made the best call, but I do know that sitting on the beach in Tanzania, writing this to you, is one of the happiest moments of my life, and that I have these moments all the time, because adventuring is what gives me life.

I used to think that if I wanted a relationship I’d have to give up this life of traveling. But since something in me always whispered “go,” I always left. It hurt me to my core, but I had to. Because Mr. Right will only have one thing to say to me, and that’s “May I join you?”2) …because there will never be an accepted time for women to travel alone…

Woman looking onto the sunset and clouds at the top of Tabel Mountain while travelingWe women don’t have it easy. We are expected to be smart, collected, beautiful, graceful, strong, and slightly independent, but still docile enough to be loved and cared for by a partner. We are supposed to chase opportunities — but only the ones handed down to us by the status quo.

What I always find interesting, though, is that the women in history who are heralded are the ones who did the opposite of all of that.

Think of Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and an endless list of other women who are pretty much universally loved and respected for doing the exact opposite of what society expected of them. We praise them for their bravery, and for having the kind of foresight and ability to question the system that made them into heroes later.

Now, traveling the world won’t make you a hero to the world, but what about to yourself?3) …because you’ll always be a target…

Woman at secluded beach paradiseIn the week before I started traveling on my own, an article came out about two girls who died in Vietnam, supposedly due to poisoned alcohol. Everyone was sending this article to me, telling me to “be careful” — ignoring that a deadly movie theater shooting had just taken place in Colorado, much closer to home than Vietnam. I went anyway, and I’ve stayed safe through almost five years of solo traveling.

While are no statistics that pertain specifically solo female travelers, there are statistics on violent crimes globally, such as rape and murder, and they’re actually encouraging. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, “over the past decade, rates of homicides in the most populous cities consistently decreased in all regions.” Additionally, murders and rapes are most often perpetrated by someone the victim knows, meaning it’s more likely to happen at home. And according to UNDOC, men are four times as likely as women to be victims of homicide worldwide.

So maybe the world isn’t as scary as it’s so often portrayed.

Traveling safely isn’t rocket science. Do what you do at home to stay safe, follow a few important safety tips, and choose places that are great for solo female travelers. Start there, get your feet wet, and branch out as you gain experience and confidence.4) …because you will never have enough money…

Kristin Addis standing in a green field with views of rolling hillsI used to think that I needed to retire before I could travel full-time, and even then, I’d need to be pretty rich. For my week’s worth of paid time off, I was easily spending $2,000 in Mexico or Hawaii, trying to do it all and come back with photos of me having a blast on the beach with a $9 cocktail in my hand.

What I didn’t realize back then was that my money would have been worth two or three times as much had I strayed a bit farther away from home. Southeast Asia, India, and much of Central America can be dirt cheap, especially if you’re willing to do it on a shoestring. Staying in hostels, eating and traveling like locals, and moving more slowly are all great ways to save money and turn that week of PTO into a sabbatical instead.

Even if you’re earning minimum wage, having trouble figuring out how to travel cheaply, or just think you’re too poor to travel, if you’re sitting at a computer reading this right now with a passport that lets you go to other places in this world, you have the ability to make it happen financially. Change your mindset, and the rest will follow.5) …because your family will always freak out…

girl with amazing glaciers in icelandThe toughest part of traveling solo is often the pushback from our parents. We wonder how we can get them see it from our point of view and support us.

The more important issue is what you’ll regret later. Will you wish that you’d stayed at home to please your parents, who — since they undoubtedly love you — do want you to live a happy and fulfilled life? Even if they don’t necessarily understand or support everything we do, our parents want the best for us. That’s what having a child is – understanding that you’re creating a human who will have her own brain, and eventually be an adult who is self-sufficient.

It’s your life, not theirs. Letting other people make monumental decisions for you is a great way to go down the path of regrets.6) …because you’ll wait forever for someone to join you…

travel writer kristin addis relaxing on beaches in tofoI understand not wanting to travel alone. I didn’t want to do it either, until I decided that I really just had to travel the world and it had to happen prior to turning 65. I knew my friends couldn’t do it with me — they had jobs they didn’t want to leave, and so did just about everyone else I could think of. Sometimes, the dream to travel will be yours alone, and that means you have to do it by yourself if you’re going to do it at all.

I was pretty worried about being lonely, but when people asked about that a few weeks into my trip, I laughed that I had ever had that fear. I was meeting other people constantly. It doesn’t matter if you’re shy; someone will probably start a conversation with you, especially if you stay in a social hostel. Once you get out there, you’ll see what I mean. It’s all about just taking that first step.


Every problem seems insurmountable at the time, but there are ways to get around those obstacles that keep you from traveling, no matter what. The key is to look for the solutions and break them down into manageable pieces rather than trying to tackle the entire thing at once. Save up, break the news to your parents, do your research so that you (and they) will be less worried, and let everyone else’s opinion stay with them. It’s your bag of coins, and your life. Get out there and spend it how you want to!

Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over four years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore. You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.Conquering Mountains: The ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel

conquering mountains: solo female travel by kristin addisFor a complete A-to-Z guide on solo female travel, check out Kristin’s new book, Conquering Mountains. Besides discussing many of the practical tips of preparing and planning your trip, the book addresses the fears, safety, and emotional concerns women have about traveling alone. It features over 20 interviews with other female travel writers and travelers. Click here to learn more about the book and start reading it today!