Over my long vacation at home between Christmas and New Year's, I made it my mission to plan my next long vacation with my boyfriend. I've never been anywhere tropical (Orlando, Florida doesn't count in my book) so this was my chance to go somewhere warm, blue, and remote.

Have you seen the photos and videos on Instagram of the swimming pigs? These pigs live on a remote cay in the Exumas of the Bahamas. I've always wanted to go swim with the pigs but it seemed like an out of reach Bucket List trip way over my budget. However, using the four tips below, I was able to book a once in a lifetime vacation to the home of the swimming pigs, all within my budget.

1. Start on Pinterest to Find Your Destination

Your first stop might be to head to Expedia or Priceline and find flights to popular warm weather destinations like the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico and plan from there. Before you play travel agent for yourself, try searching Pinterest for keywords that you want in your perfect tropical vacation.

I started planning my trip by searching "Swimming Pigs", "Exumas", "Things To Do in the Bahamas", and "Bahamas Adventures". I spent a solid few hours digging through pictures. I was able to quickly weed out the big, flashy resorts of Nassau and discover the "Out Islands", which are the more remote cays and islands of the Bahamas. Based on photos and reviews on Pinterest, I knew that this location was exactly what I was looking for in my tropical vacation. I found accommodations that provide a private boat during your stay and the freedom to explore with a picnic lunch. Amazing.

I never would've found the small resort without the help of Pinterest because it's not advertised on typical travel sites. It's less expensive that the massive all-inclusive places that cruise ships visit, so my budget was happy, too.

2. Search Groupon for Budget Friendly All-Inclusive Deals

Now that you know where you want to go, visit Groupon.com and explore their Getaways section. Many of these discounted deals are all-inclusive with airfare. The Dominican Republic is a popular destination on Groupon right now.

3. Read Blogs and Check Instagram Before You Book

Before I charged my credit card for a 6-night stay, I found several bloggers who have stayed at the same resort or on the same island. Having never been anywhere tropical, especially not a remote Bahamaian Island, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of things to do and that the area was safe for adventuring on our own. After checking out the stories of the bloggers, I felt confident that the destination was the right spot for us.

4. Make Your Money Go Further with Your Travel Points

This trip wouldn't have been possible without the travel points on our credit cards that my boyfriend and I have both saved up over the past year. The points covered the flights, and half of the other expenses. Do you have a credit card accruing travel points? Research your rewards program and see how you can redeem the points for your dream vacation. My credit card allows me to "erase" past travel purchases I've already paid for, but my boyfriend's card has their own booking system for travel. Either way, we paid for over half our trip with points. That's a big savings for this tropical adventure.

Happy travels! Where are you going this year?

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