There are 365 days in a year and 52 weekends. When you think of the year like this, it’s actually a lot of time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking it’s a lot of time to travel! That’s potentially 52 weekends away!
But how often does your time slip between your fingers and you’ve wasted entire weekends doing nothing?
You had good intentions for the weekend but you were so tired on Friday night that went home at 8pm to a takeaway and a bottle of wine. You spend Saturday running errands and a quick trip to the shops. You ‘pop to the pub’ (famous last words) for a quick drink and then, before you know it, it’s 2am and you’re stumbling home with a kebab. You spend most of Sunday feeling tired and hungover as you watch box set after box set until it gets dark. And then it’s 11pm and it’s time for bed and your weekend is over before it’s even begun.
If this happens to you far too often then maybe you should think about the 12 trips challenge.
I first came across the 12 trip challenge (#take12trips) via Clare, the lovely blogger behind Need Another Holiday. She decided to keep herself motivated to continue travelling so she set herself a challenge to take one trip every month of the year.
One trip every month, sounds achievable, right?
It’s actually a little more difficult than it sounds so I’ve put together some tips to help you travel more.
It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to the other side of the world, just a weekend away and the chance to discover something new and exciting.
It gives you something to look forward to each month without having to sacrifice your job or your social life.
And if you plan it well, the 12 trips challenge doesn’t have to be too expensive.
Here are my tips for anyone taking the 12 trips challenge and would like to travel more.
1. Prioritise travel
If you really want to travel more, you need to make travel a priority and stop making excuses.
A big night out will probably set you back £50 or more. If you live in Europe, you can easily get a return flight to hundreds of destinations for £50. I know which I’d rather spend my money on!
Stop using the ‘I can’t afford it’ excuse and make travel a priority. You won’t regret it.
The same applies to the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse. It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.
2. Start planning ASAP
Get yourself a good old-fashioned calendar and start plotting birthdays, weddings and important events that you absolutely can’t miss. Work around these unmissable dates and schedule in your monthly holiday. Do it now before anything crops up or before you know it your weekends will be booked up.
3. Who will you travel with?
Don’t rely on just one person to be your travel buddy, even if it’s your BFF or your partner.
Mix up your 12 trips between holidays with your partner, you friends, your family, solo trips and maybe even groups you’re not that close to. My yoga class takes a yearly holiday together and I know other sports clubs often do the same. It’s a fun way to get to know new people and have a completely new experience.
I often find it’s difficult to arrange spontaneous trips with my friends these days as we all have plans and commitments. But if I said, ‘Who wants to come to Berlin for 3 days in July? £80 for flights and £50 for a hotel, let’s book it now!’ they’re all keen to get onboard.
Yep, sometimes you’ll need to be the organiser if you really want to travel more.
4. Book your flights ASAP
The earlier you book your flights, the cheaper they are.
There was once a time when last-minute flights were a bargain but those days are long gone. It’s all about the organisation in 2015.
I like to book as many flights as I can at the beginning of the year. This gives me lots of look forward to and something to do with those long, dark evenings in January.
Set yourself a big budget and dig deep into your savings account. It’s a big investment now but you’ll thank yourself for spending the money now so you can travel more throughout the year. Consider getting a credit card to book some flights and then collect air miles which can go towards other flights.
If you book your flights now, you’ll have no excuses not to travel later in the year. You’ll HAVE to save a little bit of spending money and you’ll HAVE to make time.
5. Finding bargain flights
If you’re looking for cheap flights, check out websites like Bravofly.co.uk or Skyscanner. These are great sites if you can be flexible with your time and destination or you’re simply looking for inspiration for where to go next. You can search for flights departing within a whole month or a whole year and can search for any destination and multiple departure airports.
For me, departure airport is the only option that really matters. If I can fly from my local airport (Liverpool) with no luggage, it makes everything so much cheaper, easier and faster.
When selecting your destination it can be fun to choose an entire country. Take a few risks and go to unknown destinations, these are often the most fun!
6. Book your time off at work ASAP
If you’re planning to make the most of public holidays, make sure you book the time off at work ASAP. Every company is different but there may be a limited amount of people who can get one day off and the August bank holiday weekend, for example, is always a competitive one.
Don’t let work be another excuse to stop you travelling.
7. Find great value and unique accommodation
If you’re on a budget it can be difficult to find ‘nice’ accommodation when you travel and a fancy hotel will quickly eat away at your budget. Yes, you can find a budget hotel but they’re boring and it’s much more fun to find somewhere unusual.
Personally, I’ve never found a huge difference in price between booking 6 months in advance or 6 weeks in advance. Having said this, it’s nice to book things early so your travels are organised and no one can back out.
Here are some places to find cool places to stay:
- Airbnb – Great value
- Canopy and Stars – my favourite for glamping and quirky UK stays
- Couch Surfing – It’s free and works best if you get involved with the community
- Love Home Swap – Perfect if you have a nice home to swap
8. Make the most of what you have on your doorstep
Let’s be realistic here; some months you won’t have the time or money for a full weekend away so start making the most of what you have close to home.
I live in Chester so I’ve recently started travelling in and around North Wales. I’ve stayed in a tree house, spent the weekend in a country manor, a yurt and a beautiful hotel next to a lake. All of these places were around 1-2 hours drive from home so we’re there by 7pm on a Friday evening but feel like we’re a million miles from home.
This is the first of a series of ‘How to travel more’ posts you’ll be seeing on The Travel Hack. If there’s something specific you’d like more information on, please do let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to include it in the series.
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Read more: How to travel the world with a 9-5 job (you’ll like this one too!)