inspired exploration

Travel smarter this year: Four ways to discover new destinations without breaking the bank

Travel smarter this year: Four ways to discover new destinations without breaking the bank

Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland Courtesy of Wanderfly
Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_swimming
La Purificadora Puebla Mexico Courtesy of Tablet Hotels
Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_rome
Hotel De Russie, Rome Courtesy of Andrew Harper
Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_switzerland
Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_swimming
Austin Photo Set: News_jackie_travel tips_dec 2011_rome

As January progresses and people struggle with their resolutions to lose this (goodbye, holiday weight) or gain that (hello, patience and perspective), we can’t forget to acknowledge another aspiration hovering atop many a 2012 wishlist: to get off the couch and get out the door and 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 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.

 Austin-based Andrew Harper company is like your in-the-know best friend

 But don’t fret. 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. Bon voyage!

Wanderfly — 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 (not to mention share and organize your itinerary, too).

Andrew Harper — 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.

AFAR — 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, people would rather hear first-hand accounts and recommendations from someone who has been there before and from someone who has similar travel sensibilities.

To register with the service, members answer a series of questions in order to identify their travel personality. In that way, AFAR engages its community of informed travelers who willingly ask and answer detailed questions.

Tablet Hotels — 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 tool kit for the urban explorer. Check out their blog, Tablet Talk, for design, culture and travel inspiration.