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8 Tips for a Dream Vacation on Any Budget

8 Tips for a Dream Vacation on Any Budget

The average vacation costs an astounding $1,145 per person, so it’s no wonder that so many people believe they can’t afford to travel. However, when you consider the fact that vacations are important for physical and mental health, it’s easy to understand that it’s necessary for everyone to take a break at least once a year. If financial concerns have prevented you from taking an annual vacation, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the numerous ways you can bring expenses down without sacrificing the trip of your dreams.

1. Adjust the Timing of Your Vacation

Everyone wants to go to tourist hot spots during the summer, but this is the most expensive and crowded time of the year. If you want to go when the weather is still good, simply make travel plans for the week before or after the peak season. This is especially beneficial in small beach towns because the crowds will be gone, the beaches will be practically deserted and you’re much more likely to get a good deal on lodging, food and souvenirs. As an added bonus, avoiding the peak season is ideal for introverts and parents who wish to avoid large crowds and long lines.

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2. Choose a Vacation Rental Home

Airbnb and other similar sites are all the rage right now, and with good reason; they provide lodging that is more comfortable and often cheaper than hotels. Additionally, you’ll have access to a fully-equipped kitchen, which means you can save a ton of money on food. It’s important to check the fine print though, as many of these online services charge booking fees that inflate the total price. Tripz is a notable exception to this trend because they don’t have any booking or commission fees for vacation rentals. In other words, you can enjoy living like a local for an even lower price.

3. Use Discount Sites

Discount sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial make it possible to save a lot of money on airfare, lodging, excursions, rental cars and dining. Again, the best time to take advantage of these deals is during the off-season when package deals can be found for more than half off the regular price. These deals always have very specific guidelines, including which travel dates you must adhere to, so be sure to read through everything thoroughly before purchasing anything. The best prices are typically offered for international destinations.

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4. Travel Light

The average cost of checking luggage for a flight is $25, but this price increases steeply with each additional bag. By the time you get to your third piece of luggage, you can expect to pay hundreds to travel with three bags. Instead, it’s best to maximize your carry-on option and, if necessary, restrict your travel items to no more than what can fit in one checked bag. This becomes much easier if you’re staying at a vacation rental that offers laundry on-site. Although no one wants to do laundry during their vacation, the cost of detergent and a bit of your time is much better than spending hundreds of dollars to take a larger wardrobe with you. You can also use the money you save on baggage fees to help pay for the rest of your vacation expenses.

5. Skip the Rental Car

Are you flying into a major city such as London or New York City? These areas have comprehensive public transportation options that make it easy to get anywhere without spending a lot of money. It’s also important to note that having a rental car will require you to pay a lot of parking fees, along with additional stress of driving in a congested downtown area. Skip the hassle and all of the associated expenses. Instead, invest in a subway or bus card and allow someone else to transport you around the city.

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6. Take Advantage of Free Days

Many cities offer free admission to museums and other major tourist attractions at certain times of the month or year. For example, Paris offers free admission to notable locations such as the Louvre on the first Sunday of every month. If you’re under the age of 26, you can also visit this world-renowned museum for free on Friday evenings. The Louvre is usually €15.00, so utilizing a free day is a great way to save a lot of money. You’ll want to get in line really early though, as a lot of people show up on these days.

7. Restrict Your Dining Out

Yes, people often go to other cities or countries looking for new dining experiences. However, eating out for every meal can quickly become one of the most expensive parts of your trip. Remove this expense by packing a picnic lunch each day. If you’re in a vacation rental or a hotel room with a kitchenette, you’ll also be able to cook dinner and keep leftovers refrigerated. If you feel like you must eat out, do it only once a day. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, and it’s best to avoid tourist trap restaurants that inflate their prices.

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8. Become a House Sitter

Are you willing to travel at random times to a wide variety of places and take on a few responsibilities in exchange for a place to stay? House sitting is rapidly becoming a viable alternative option for people who can demonstrate that they are trustworthy. The way these programs work is that you stay in someone’s home while they enjoy their own vacation. House sitting gigs can last as little as a couple of nights all the way to several months. Be aware that you may have to do tasks such as pet sitting or taking care of plants as part of the deal, but you will get to stay somewhere for free! Of course, there’s no guarantee a house sitting job will be posted in a specific area, so this is best for people who are comfortable with spontaneity.

Travel has been proven to help people become smarter, healthier and less stressed. Therefore, it’s truly important to prioritize taking an annual vacation. If possible, go on a few vacations per year, even if this means you choose locations that are closer to home. By incorporating tips such as booking a vacation rental online, traveling light and using public transportation, you can travel around the world without being rich. Some people choose to get temporary jobs while traveling to make the experience even more affordable.

Featured photo credit: 1818244 via pixabay.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, go to my website (find my website here in my profile) and take the smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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