About a month and a half ago, frolicking in the snow storm that plagued Brooklyn, I slipped and broke my ankle in three places. Fun stuff. This injury meant that, after a lengthy surgery, I was unable to put any pressure on the affected leg for six weeks – and as someone who lives in a third-floor walk-up, I was confined to my apartment, working from home, getting more stir-crazy by the day.

So, what’s a girl in my position to do? Daydream about my next vacation, of course! And since I just got my tax return (thanks, student loans!), I started doing some research and planning. After what seemed like hours of going down the rabbit hole, I think it’s safe to say that I became a pseudo travel expert.

Have the travel itch, too?

Here’s what you need for a smart, cheap(er) vacation:

Start with this Travel and Leisure article – chock-full of planning tips, it includes everything from managing your credit card reward points to dealing with airline fees.

Think of this as your overarching guide.

The next thing you’ll want to do is resolve the whole flight situation.

That’s where Fare Compare comes in, with the cheapest days to fly and the best time to buy.

Once you understand the nuances of flight purchases, it’s time to figure out where to stay. A hotel? What about an AirBnB?

Travel Pulse will help you understand which option is best for you.

Worried about budgeting for your trip?

Read this US News and World Report guide, which lists out all the travel expenses you need to budget for before departing.

If your head is spinning and you need a more concrete plan of attack, snag yourself a copy of the Wanderlist book.

This will help you plan literally every step of your next getaway complete with worksheets and tips.

Now that you’re a travel wizard, you should choose a place to go.

Instead of the usual spots, why not try something different? Forbes has you covered here, with the destinations less traveled – and typically, this translates to more seclusion, less tourists, and a lower cost. Win, win, win!

Happy travels!