After visiting 12 countries on five continents and hearing people say that they wish they could travel like us, I realize that it’s time to share a bit about how we do it. People think we have tons of money, but that’s far from the case. We just travel with value in mind. In the last year we’ve been to Oahu, Chicago, Detroit, Niagra Falls, Dallas, Atlanta, South Africa, and Brazil. In a few days we leave for Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. There are tons of ways to save money, but here are the three that I focus on to get us to as many places as we can.
#1 Find Cheap Airfare
The first thing to know about us is that we don’t care where we go. Since we want to see everything it doesn’t matter in what order we go in. Also, if something is cheap and close … we’ll go to see that too. Sometimes you learn something that you didn’t even think that you wanted to know (like Peru is beautiful!) by being open to new experiences.
We usually visit sites like TheFlightDeal.com and SecretFlying.com to see what’s available. The word “cheap” is really relative. To me, cheap means a few hundred dollars. We like to try and get flights around $300 like we did with Peru and Brazil. If something is important to us we’ll go as high as $500 or $600 if that includes round trip airfare and all taxes like we did with South Africa and Cambodia.
If you are considering traveling with your infant or toddler, remember that kids under 2 years old only pay a percentage of the cost of international airfare. Yeppers, if you want to take your little one out of the country you will pay full fare (and by that I mean the discount fare you scored on the cheap) and your little one will pay about 10% of whatever your ticket cost. Remember to book your fares at the same time because your kid will pay 10% of whatever the current fare is and those fares change from day to day.
#2 Find Cheap Accommodations
When traveling abroad you probably want a place that’s safe, affordable and hopefully comfortable. If it’s close to the sights you’d like to see and the metro that’s a bonus too. One has the option of hostels with dorms, hostels with private rooms, traditional hotels, staying with someone you know, renting a room from a family or renting the whole apartment or house. Our sweet spot is a whole house that rents for the same or less than a hotel per night. We use AirBnB.com a lot. So far we’ve found cute homes with nice owners/managers (like these in Brazil). You might prefer something else. The key is know what you want and look at enough places to get a feel for what the average price range is for the amenities you want. You want it cheap but you also want it safe.
#3 Find Cheap Entertainment
Once you’re on the ground you want to have fun … on the cheap. The best way I’ve found to do this is to first consider things I can do for free. You’d be surprised how many fun things there are to do that might put you in touch with a city’s vibe …. that are free. After that I check CouchSurfing.com. It’s a cool little site that connects people all around the world. You can find a place to sleep for free (we did it in Kyoto, Japan) or just find someone to hang out with. Next, I try to ask people on the ground. Most people are really nice and are more than happy to give you some ideas. Often the things that everyone goes to see are overrated. They have good PR but are often overpriced and not as exciting as people make them seem. Walk around. Smile at people. Some small adventure might end up being the best part of the trip.
Overall, you’ll visit as many places as your wallet and your imagination will allow. Be open to new adventures and spend wisely.