Days of going to a travel agency and paying for them to plan your vacation are long gone! If you're like me, you book your own flight and make your own hotel arrangements. With travel websites (especially discount ones) coming out the wazoo, there are so many resources at your finger tips! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Get a travel credit card. 

I wish I knew this when I was younger. Having a credit card that gives me points makes traveling more appealing and easier! I got a TON of miles because I signed up when my card was having a deal and I added my husband to the account for added bonus points! 

These are some of the benefits I get from my card:

- Free checked bag for myself + travel partner

- Passes to the airline lounge during delays and long layovers

- Free flights after accrued miles

- Priority boarding

- Priority booking

- Everyday shopping deals that equate to double, triple, quadruple+ points! 

 

I follow ThePointsGuy.com for straight forward information about getting the most out of a travel credit card that works for your lifestyle. 

 

 

 

2. Hit up Pinterest.

Let other people do the work for you! 

Some of my best vacation moments can be credited to Pinterest! I keep a "Wanderlust" board so I'm never out of inspiration for places to travel. I've also discovered A LOT of cool places that I didn't even know existed before seeing them on Pinterest!   

 Pinterst

 

 

 

3. Look into company deals + membership discounts.

Your company may have a partnership with a hotel chain or car rental service, so check with HR before you start booking! I'm a member of AAA, so I get a discount at Marriott properties. When I was on my honeymoon, the AAA discount basically paid for all of our drinks!

 

 

 

4. Download travel booking apps (esp for flights)! 

If you like to fly particular airlines, get their app and allow push notifications. I have found that certain flights are cheaper on the app! I mainly book flights from my phone! It sounds crazy, but it works! 

 

 

 

5. Look for local travel guides online.

Travel bloggers are meticulous about sharing details, negative and positive! I particularly love finding "24 hour" guides from people who actually live in the places I'm visiting. My favorite website for travel guides is designsponge.com.

 

 

 

6. Take copious notes, make lists and PLAN IT OUT! 

DON'T just show up and pretend you are going to get it all in! Take some notes and make some restaurant reservations before you get to your destination. I always have a folder with confirmation numbers, directions, etc... you never know when cell service will cut out! It seems annoying when you are doing it, but in the end it will make your trip less stressful!

 

IMPORTANT: Print out your confirmations! You don't want to be stranded with a dead phone. 

 

  

7. Get yourself a good carry-on!

Nothing can ruin a trip like being weighed down with a bulk bag and too much stuff! Carla Marie covered the Copilot Luggage Roller by Timbuk2 in her #WhatsTrending report and I'm in love! It's the best, coolest, most convenient carry-on ever. I've been to Europe (for multiple weeks) twice now with only a carry-on and a backpack! 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Don't forget the e-travel books! 

Carrying around a heavy travel book seems old fashioned, but nowadays you can upload everything to your e-reader. Before I head anywhere, I make sure I've downloaded a Fodors or Rick Steves guide. I like to have a drink at the airport and read my book for last min tips and custom guides!  

Image Source: Amazon.com

 

 

 

9. Download "offline" travel map apps for your destination!

When I was in Ireland this summer, an offline map app that I downloaded was indispensable! We essentially had zero cell service and sometimes the GPS we rented with the car didn't work. In a pinch we opened our offline map and it saved us time and time again! 

 

SAVE GOOGLE MAPS OFFLINE

BEST OFFLINE MAPS FOR ANDROID

BEST OFFLINE MAPS FOR iPHONES

 

 

 

10. INSTAGRAM

Once you get to your location, look up all hash tags associated with your destination. You will find cool cafes, street art and sights that only the locals know about! One hashtag may lead to another and before you know it... you're filling your own Instagram account with AMAZING "off the beat and path" pics! 

 

(I did this all over Ireland and had a MUCH BETTER TRIP because of it!)