Lately I've been reading a lot of posts about early graduation and deferred start dates. Most of the posts relate to what to do with the downtime, and the most popular response is travel.
Travel has always been a passion of mine, and I've done so extensively. As such, I've learned a few tricks to get around this big, blue marble inexpensively and have a great time. I thought it would be a good time to make you guys aware of 3 websites I've used a lot over the past 5 years to put some serious miles under my belt.
1) Go Today -- Go Today started out as a clearinghouse for last minute travel deals. I'm talking about things like $69 flights to Zimbabwe if you could leave 4 hours from now. The site has evolved into a great world travel site and they offer unbelievable deals anywhere in the world.
These guys are so good that, when I have friends coming to stay with us here in Paris, I will usually have my friends check Go Today for a package. More often than not, my friends can find an air and hotel package cheaper than just the airfare they found on Expedia or whatever. Even though they're staying with us, by booking through Go Today they save money.
My wife and I used Go Today to come to Paris in 2004. 10 nights hotel RT airfare included came to $1,200 for both of us! We used them again in 2007 for a 5 day trip to Rome. Sign up for their email alerts and they'll hit you with some unbelievable deals.
2) Cheap Caribbean -- I'll travel just about anywhere, but when I really need to unwind it has to be on island time. White sandy beaches and distant reaches are what I'm all about. Enter Cheap Caribbean. If you are looking to get down island, these are the guys to book through. I just got something in my email box yesterday about an all-inclusive resort deal that included airfare for $299.
Here's a note on Caribbean travel: all inclusive is the only way to go. If you're a hopeless drunk like me, you'll pay for the vacation in rum consumption alone. The all inclusive resorts tend to be the newer resorts, and the hotel staff and waiters have all been fantastic for us.
We've used Cheap Caribbean for all inclusive vacations in Jamaica and Barbados. The cool thing about Barbados is that the resort company had a couple resorts on the island, so it was a "Stay at 1 - Play at all" type deal. There was a shuttle bus that took you from property to property, and each property had a little different vibe and different restaurants.
Again, sign up for their email alerts because some of the deals they put out are just stupid.
3) Vacation Rentals By Owner -- I've only used VRBO for travel inside the U.S., mostly the Redneck Riviera. But they offer properties all around the world and I'm thinking about using them for a Christmas in Provence.
They're not a travel company. They are a consolidator for individually-owned properties that are for rent around the world. In other words, if you'd prefer a condo or house over an extended hotel stay, these are the guys to check with. If you're staying anywhere off the beaten path, these guys will have a deal on a nice place.
I've never had a problem and I've used them several times, but I caution you about sending a bunch of money to an owner you've never met for a property you've never seen. This warning applies more to the copycat sites that are doing what VRBO pioneered.
And just so you can't say your Uncle Eddie never gave you a little something extra, if you're having trouble figuring out where to go, check out Matador Trips. This is a great site for young people to share tips and warnings about the world at large. If you're looking for the best places to party, get laid, or find the icky-sticky north slope quiver bud, Matador will have the info.
One last word of advice. Travel is critical when you're young. Take the time to see the world. It makes you a better person, at least more entertaining at parties. It's fine when you get older, but it's when you're young that you can really experience the world with fresh eyes and an undiluted sense of adventure. Don't cheat yourself.
Happy Trails, guys.