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Wanderlust Again…and So Soon

I was in Tokyo in March, before that I was in Fiji in December, and before that I was in Houston and Boise in November. I’ve done more traveling the past two years than I’ve done the rest of my life combined and it’s been a dream come true because all I really want to do with my life is make a little money and use it to see the world.
It’s becoming easier to do that since I’ve paid off a couple of large debts. Paying off debt is such a great feeling and I finally paid off my car and a personal loan. So now that my focus and finances are free to shift away from paying bills, I’m making a shortlist of places I want to explore. Number one on that list has been Beijing, but on a whim I looked up flights to Cairo from Manila in October and was amazed to see how affordable the airfare is.
As a Free Independent Traveler (FIT), I find planning a trip to be almost as fun as the trip itself. My style of travel is modest in budget and requires a little bit of digging to find the gems. I do all my planning and booking online, with the help of Kayak, DoHop (great site for searching international flights) and Trip Advisor. Take Cairo, for example. If I booked with one of the two domestic airlines on Guam, a ticket to Cairo from Guam would cost AT LEAST $2,500. But I have enough miles to get a free ticket from Guam to Manila and from there I can get a ticket to Cairo on an international carrier for about $1,000. Neat! I also try to find out who flies directly from point A to point B and check that airline’s website for fares and specials. But if getting from point A to point B means 2 stops and short layovers BUT a thousand dollar discount, I’ll take that, too.
When it comes to finding a hotel, Trip Advisor is my main source for information and reviews on hotels. I love that I can enter a dollar amount of what I’m willing to spend per night at a hotel and Trip Advisor gives me a list of properties within my budget, along with traveler reviews written by people who actually stayed there. From there I make a shortlist of possible places to stay, compare them, read more reviews, visit the hotel’s website (sometimes if you book directly with the hotel there are additional discounts) and whittle the list down. Another thing I like to do is look up the hotel on Google Earth so I can get an idea of where the hotel is located and the distance it is from the places I want to see in the area. Isn’t technology grand?
So, anyway, about Cairo. I don’t want to get ahead of myself (which is hard to do because I’m excited) so I’ve set a goal to save a specific amount of money by the end of September. By October I’ll be free to decide where I want to go. If it’s Cairo, great. If it’s Beijing, great. The point is to leave my options open and see where my efforts take me. But one thing’s for sure: I’m going places.
How about you? How do you plan for travel?

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4 Responses

  1. Kimmie says:

    Rob and I try to travel every November, the week around Veteran’s Day. It’s usually low season, lots of discounts and not too many crowds at museums, shows, etc. One of the first things I do is check out free museums and good restaurants. A couple of years ago, we used miles to Honolulu and tickets from there to DC were unless than $500 each. From there we spent 4 days roaming the Smithsonian (FREE ENTRANCE!) and enjoying yummy restaurants at night.
    Last year, we did the same thing but in San Francisco, got to watch an NFL game and saw Wicked. I’m with you on the traveling, I’ve been bitten by the wanderlust bug!

  2. Christine Lalaine says:

    I’m pretty much as OCD as you are, with a few exceptions: 1) I use Tripadvisor to see costomer pics & reviews on hotels, 2) I use Google Maps to scout my intended hotel (I can’t install Google Earth on my work computer, where 99.9% of my vacation planning is done because I’m feeling the itch to get away from my desk job for awhile), and 3) I use Seat Guru to map out which seats on the plan are the most comfy! 🙂

  3. Christine Lalaine says:

    Whoops, scratch #1. You wrote “Tripadvisor” and for some weird reason I read “Travelocity.” I blame it on the fact that it’s time to clock out for the day…

  4. Shaun T says:

    When looking at travel within Australia, I do all the planning and organising, but with my upcoming Egypt trip, I cheated and went to a travel agent and got them to do most of the work.

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