Resolve to travel smarter: 4 new ways to discover new destinations andadventures, without breaking the bank
As January ticks closer and people resolve to lose this (goodbye, holiday weight) or gain that (hello, patience and perspective), we can’t forget to acknowledge yet another aspiration hovering atop many a 2012 wishlist: to get off the couch and get out the door — to travel more.
We get it. Life gets busy and schedules get crammed. And with the 420,889 websites, mobile apps and intuitive-social-graph-mind-reading technologies that are vying for your attention these days, it’s no wonder that even the mere thought of planning a trip out of town might be overwhelming. But as tempting as it may be to let the routine rut get the best of you, remember how fun and invigorating it is to explore and discover a new locale.
But don’t fret. Luckily, we’ve done a bit of the sleuthing for you, rounding up some of the more promising sites and services out there that aim to take the headache out of travel and let you get back to enjoying the journey.
Founded in 2010, this relatively new, smart service was created with the intent to make travel fun (and easy) again. Functioning somewhat like a personalized recommendation service, Wanderfly matches your travel personality with destinations that won't break the bank. In other words, as declared on the website, it "helps you discover new experiences based on your interests and budget." An added bonus is that you can actually book through the site as well (not to mention share and organize your itinerary, too).
This Austin-based company is like your in-the-know best friend — always hip to the latest thing, relentlessly curious about discovering new secrets and quick to offer an opinion. Apart from their sleek Hideaway Report publication, AH offers members the perks of a private travel community (i.e. access to likeminded global explorers) and full use of an in-house travel agency. If you're looking for vacation inspiration, check out Andrew Harper Mobile or take a peek at their blog.
With its multi-platform media approach, AFAR not only publishes a beautiful magazine of lust-worthy locales, it offers a robust online offering as well. Their model is based on the idea that when it comes to visiting a new place, not only would people rather hear first-hand accounts and recommendations from someone who has been there before, but from someone who has similar travel sensibilities as them. To register with the service, members answer a series of questions in order to identify their travel personality (no surprise, my preferred travel style proved to be that of a "Cultural Explorer"). In that way, AFAR is unique because of its engaged community of informed travelers who willingly ask and answer detailed questions.
Tablet takes the beauty of the online flash sale and adds a significant cool factor, scouting out prime properties around the world. Focused on featuring a range of experiences across the hospitality industry (from boutique to luxury), this sleek site lets you access acclaimed hotels at discounted rates. An added Tablet perk is that it lets users create and share individually curated city-guides — the ultimate toolkit for the urban explorer. Check out their blog, Tablet Talk, for design, culture and travel inspiration.