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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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