Travel

The Pursuit of Happiness and What That Entails: 3 Steps to Travelling Wildly on a Budget

Go see the world. It’s big and it’s out there and it’s waiting to be explored.

I read the comments on my post and one thing I see a lot are people asking how I travel so much or declaring that one day they will exit their comfort zone and travel and see things and learn more about this great big ol’ thing we call ‘planet earth.’ Let me start by saying this: Anyone can do what I do! And I will show you step by step what you must do in order to travel the world but there are three things that you must be aware of:

  1. You don’t have to break the bank to travel
  2. Traveling won’t put you in massive debt
  3. This will require effort on your part
  4. You don’t have to be rich to travel

Okay, now granted, three of those things basically mean the same thing but that’s neither here nor there. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1: Figure out where you want to go.

When I’m prepping for my next trip, I’m doing lots of research on the country and city I intend to visit. I want to know several things.

  1. What is the official and secondary language? This is important because you want to know if you’re going to be able to get by without knowing the language. Keep in mind that most tourist destinations have a huge bilingual presence. Worldwide, 360 million people speak English, so usually you’ll be fine but there are large pockets of the world that don’t speak English so be mindful of that.
  2. When are the peak travel seasons for my intended destination? Traveling during peak seasons can often be pricier as businesses and hotels usually inflate prices to take advantage of the influx of travelers. Traveling during off season will allow you to save money and you’ll be able to take advantage of thinner crowds.
  3. What are the major attractions? These can include but are not limited to landmarks, world wonders, museums, theme parks, and historical markers. I’m personally a sucker for museums but that’s just me.

Step 2: Figure out how you are going to get there.

This is the hard part, and this is the part that require more time. So, you know where you want to go, so now you need to figure out how you’re going to get there. So, in order to get started there are a few resources I’m going to share with you that you’ll need to become intimately familiar with.

  • Cheapoair.com— me and this website became friends in 2010 when I took my first trip abroad to Italy. This is one of those websites that scan hundreds of sites all at once for the best possible price so that you can make your flight selections. 

BONUS NUGGET #1: If possible, plan your trips around when flights are cheapest. Cheapoair will check flight prices during the surrounding days of the dates you select and will offer you cheaper rates if you’re able to move your dates around a bit.

  • Google Flights— I just started using Google Flights one thing that I love about it is that you’re able to search a country and it will show you flight prices for nearby cities. For example, say you want to go to Australia. Australia is one of the more expensive countries to fly to, but you can sometimes find cheap fights based on the city you fly into. Then you can search for flights from that city to another nearby city. Another great feature of this site is that you can assemble an itinerary and then track the flight prices. Google will email you and let you know when the flight prices have changed.
  • Hopper— this is actually an app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play Store. You input your flight details and Hopper will show you when prices are typically cheaper. In addition, it can monitor and track prices for you. The app will send you a notification when a flight price has changed, it will also let you know if you’ll be better off waiting to book or if it feels you’ve gotten the best you’re going to get.

Now booking cheap flights isn’t always easy but its definitely not impossible. Remember what I said about not going into massive debt to do it. Some people have the option of opening an Airline credit card, and you can do this, but be warned: Depending on your monthly spending, current debt obligations, and travel frequency this option could be more harmful financially.

As I mentioned earlier, it might serve you better to go out a few months and search around for cheap flights and then plan the finer details of your vacation or travel adventure.

So the next step in the flight situation is to prepare to book your flights. And that takes us to 

BONUS NUGGET #2: There are international airports and there are major international airports. When you are ready to book your flight, consider booking with a major international airport. This means you may need to position yourself by booking two flights. The first to the major international airport and the second to your destination. Some airports only offer direct service to certain cities both domestic and internationally so if I wanted to go to Italy from Columbus, OH I’d have to catch a connection from Chicago, North Carolina, New York, Philadelphia, etc. and because of this connection, the cost of the flight can be near astronomical. So consider booking that positioning flight or driving to a different airport so you can get the best price. 

Step 3: Figure out lodging.

If not done right, this one could cost you big time. It’s important to note that there is no sure-fire way to get cheap housing but there are some reliable ways. So let’s consider a few things by asking some questions:

  1. Are you trying to save money or do you have money to blow?
  2. Are you interested in experiencing the culture or are you looking for a home away from home?
  3. Are you willing to give up some creature comforts?
  4. Are you only attempting to stay in the confines of a lush resort?
  5. Is this a vacation or an adventure?

So if you’re trying to save money, experience culture, give up on your current lifestyle for a few days and go on an adventure then read on because I can help with that. I don’t do fancy resorts and I’m not interested in your poolside breakfast buffet. Sometimes you have to get a little dirty to make these things happen but once it’s over you won’t have an ounce of regret and you’ll be begging for more. Life happens when we make it happen, remember that.

My kinda lodging comes in two forms––cheap and cheaper. First the cheap. If you’re looking for cheap head on over to Airbnb.com or Booking.com. These are home sharing sites. People either rent out their whole home or a room in their home. If you choose to rent a room, it’s usually gonna be a bed and breakfast style where you’ll be living with your host(s) and possibly other fellow travelers. If you choose the whole home you’ll be on your own but you’ll have more privacy. 

If I can’t find anything good on either of those sites, then I head over to Expedia. I’ve had really good luck and experiences with Expedia so I choose it other similar sites. My suggestion no matter which option you choose is to try and search in non-touristy areas. This will get you the best rate and the biggest bang for your buck. It’s also a good idea to read reviews––when you’re opting away from the mainstream hotels, you have to be wary of what the reviews say. A helpful alternative is Trip Advisor. They even allow booking from their site, so be on the lookout.

So I mentioned a cheaper option­—you had to have known this was coming—HOSTELS! Don’t worry folks, it really isn’t like the movies but I do think because of the movies their prices got even cheaper trying to recover from the stigma that its where travelers go to die. Hostels offer a lot of variety, privacy (unless you’re in one of those dorm-style deals), and in some cases breakfast and dinner. Usually you’ll be in the company of fellow travelers and there is nothing like sharing adventure stories over a cold one.

BONUS NUGGET #3:

Use my coupon to save $40 off your first Airbnb! https://abnb.me/e/NSrucC9JXW

Lastly:

Don’t worry about the itinerary, figure it out on the whim. Some of my favorite trips have had little to zero planning aside from the three things I listed above. If you need ideas for what to do, visit Trip Advisor or Airbnb which just launched a new “Experiences” feature which allows you to search for local experiences curated by local people. Be on the lookout for a post about navigating abroad for a more in-depth look at doing fun activities abroad.

Remember to have fun. Go see the world. It’s big and it’s out there and it’s waiting to be explored.

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