By Jillian Chamberlain • May 12, 2015
It has been said that, “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”. As I have been making my way through my early to mid-thirties, this is a philosophy that I have wholeheartedly adopted. I have committed myself to taking at least one trip outside of the US each year. That may sound advantageous (and expensive), but if planned properly, it is completely doable and affordable.
Last summer I traveled through Germany, France, and Italy on a two week European vacation. I attended the wedding of my best friend in a German castle high atop a mountain. I had a meal consisting of only baguettes, wine and cheese blocks from the Eiffel Tower. And I wandered through the canals of Venice, the hillsides of Tuscany and the charming streets of Rome. It was one of the best vacations of my life.
This year I decided I wanted to take a trip that was more off the beaten path. I wanted the type of vacation that requires a backpack instead of a wheeled suitcase. Yoga pants and hiking shoes instead of sundresses and flip-flops. This year I decided to book a trip to Peru, with the intention of climbing Machu Picchu on my 36th birthday. Here are my tips to save time and money while embracing your wanderlust.
Traveling outside of the country is typically something that most people need to plan ahead for. The first step is deciding where you would like to travel. Based on your chosen location, you can determine what the best time of year to travel there is. For instance, Peru’s rainy season is November –April. Between January and April many mountain area road become impassable. However, May through October is the dry season, with July and August being the highest tourist travel. I chose mid-September for my trip, so that I didn’t have to worry about flooded roads or excessive amounts of tourists.
Once you have determined where you want to travel to and when, you can plan ahead and save. I typically take my vacation somewhere between July and September. Therefore I plan to use part of my income tax return to purchase my plane ticket. I received my return in mid-February, so I was able to purchase my plane ticket 7 months in advance. I have another wedding to attend this year in Boston so I planned my trip to Peru for the day after the wedding. I booked the following airfare:
…. for a grand total of $745!!
I started monitoring the flights to Peru via various travel websites, as well as the airlines that I have member accounts with. I also kept a close eye on the travel promo codes that are available on our website.
In addition to airfare, you will have to prepare for in-country expenses. Websites like TripAdvisor are very helpful in determining the best and most affordable place to stay during your vacation. TripAdvisor also has hundreds of users who leave feedback on their experiences staying in certain hotels and B&B’s. You can benefit from other people’s insights when deciding where you should stay, and you will know how much money you will need for accommodations.
Researching hotels and attractions is part of the fun of planning your trip, however there are a few technical aspects of your trip that need to be looked look into as well. Do a google search to find out if the country you are traveling to requires you to attain a travel visa before entering the country. Peru issues a temporary travel visa upon arrival in country, so I will not need to do anything in regards to that before I arrive.
Also, check the expiration on your passport and the laws of the country you are traveling too. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is expiring within the next 6 months. The last thing you would want to do is spend money on an international plane ticket and be denied boarding privileges due to a passport requirement.
It should also be noted that some countries have requirements (or strong suggestions) to receive vaccines before you travel to your destination. Do your due diligence and find out what you need to do before you travel. Most places have all of their requirements listed on their official travel and tourism site. Peru does not require proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter the country, especially if you only plan to visit Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, however, the Peruvian government does suggest that if you plan on visiting any jungles in country that you should get a vaccination before your leave home.
While you're on the Board of Tourism website, look to see what the official languages spoken are in their country you're traveling to. Since you are planning way ahead of time, it's much easier to learn a language if you have the proper time to practice and study. Using a language learning software like Rosetta Stone will help you become more familiar with the native tongue. We can also help you save money on the cost of the software by offering you these Rosetta Stone promo codes. Saving money by planning ahead allows you to have a few extra Neuvo Sol (Peruvian currency) in your pocket. Learning basic phrases will help you navigate around, order food, and greet and thank the locals. This will only make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
Until next time....Adios!
Jillian Chamberlain When not Facebooking, Tweeting & Instagraming (basically turning any social media platform into a verb), Jillian can ironically be found reading a hardcover book, using an abacus and morse code.