I’m often asked how and why I travel the way I do. What does that mean exactly? Let’s dive in…
I thrive on quick getaways, not sleeping (!), adhering to a strict agenda, and just getting up and going. And I absolutely HAVE to do it on the cheap. It sounds impractical, but for me, it’s the best way to see the world and I would recommend my style of travel to anyone looking to get out more. Check out the method to my madness:
See as much as you can in as little time as you can
The world is a huge place – and time is precious. I don’t think I’ve spent more than three nights in one city since high school and for good reason. I 100% believe that spending less time in one place motivates you to see more. Only have two nights in Dubrovnik? I would bet money you take more tours, see more sights, and indulge in more delicacies because in the back of your mind, you know that your time is so limited. Plus, think about all that money you’re saving on lodging and other costs – that could be enough to see a whole other place!
When you extend your time in one place for several days or weeks, I think it’s possible to become a little bit more complacent with a more “eh, let’s just hang out and do nothing because we’re tired” attitude. Life’s too short to not take advantage of every second you have in a new place.
Bottom line: force yourself out of your comfort zone (literally) and see more than you ever expected.
Search high and low for ANY cheap fare
Do I have a travel bucket list? Yes. Do I adhere to it when I’m itchin’ for a vacay? Not a chance, and the reason why has saved me a ton of money.
Listen, if you are dying to see Spain for example, all you need to do is GET to Europe. For me, to fly from Chicago to Barcelona was $300 more than flying into Amsterdam. So my friend and I flew to Amsterdam and planned our trip around that: Chicago – Amsterdam – Paris – Barcelona – Brussels – home. It was ridiculously cheap to fly within Europe once we got there, so we got to our other destinations for less than $300 total — our total initial savings! We saw and experienced more than we could have ever imagined, saved some dough, and checked gorgeous Barcelona off our bucket lists.
I’ve used this method for every single international trip I’ve taken and don’t think I could ever travel any other way.
Bottom line: just GET to the area you’re looking to explore. Then plan around that.
Sign up for travel alerts to find a great deal
This one is related to the above point, but I think it’s an important one to drive home. I sign up for a range of travel websites that have helped me ‘flight hack’ and regularly check out these resources for tricks to securing the best flight deal:
The Flight Deal – This website scrapes popular airline sites for the best deals from a wide array of destinations and sends emails at the frequency you choose.
Skyscanner – This handy little site is essentially a search engine for cheap flights all over the world with alerts for flights you’ve searched already, deals of the day, and more.
Hopper – This app monitors flight buying trends and alerts you when the best time to buy your desired flight is, keeping you in the know with money in your pocket.
Jen on a Jet Plane – Learn how to flight hack from an expert through webinars and newsletters. Jen Ruiz, author of The Affordable Travel Guide, has a wealth of knowledge to share and you’ll save oodles of money as a result.
Kayak Explore – Not to be confused with regular ol’ kayak.com, Kayak Explore literally shows you the cheapest flights all over the world from your destination. Filter by price, time of year, and area and you can end up saving tons.
Bottom line: travel is possible if you’re willing to educate yourself and stay aware.
Educate yourself on must-sees within your destination
Who wants to travel to Cuba only to eat a pizza? Not me. What’s the point of traveling if you aren’t going to let yourself experience the ins and outs of local culture?
When my friend and I were planning our Cuban getaway, we committed to so much research. I followed Instagrammers, travel bloggers, emailed with our Airbnb hosts, and Googled EVERYTHING as we were fleshing out each day of our trip. In just 4 short days, we drank like Hemingway, took a vintage car tour, saw some of the most famous art in the country, smoked cigars, ate authentic Cuban food, and most importantly, educated ourselves on the safest ways for Americans to travel. What if we had gotten there uninformed and expected to use our credit cards? We’d be out of luck, since American credit cards don’t work there. What if we thought we’d be able to use our cell phones? Again, out of luck.
Bottom line: absorb everything a new culture has to offer through research and the wealth of information that is at our fingertips every day.