I’m en-route to another country, and many people see me jet setting around the world and have mentioned I spend a lot of money on travel. They’ll say something like
“Oh, I wish I had money for that.”
“You should be saving your money.”
I can tell you that I’m not travelling more due to any pay raise, and on the other hand, my savings are still OK. So let me tell you THE secret to frequently travelling internationally.
Prioritize Your Life
Most people would think this is obvious, but few people do it. I -and everyone else- have a set resource. Either I redistribute my money or I grow my wealth. Since the latter takes a little longer to do, I choose to put my money where it matters.
So take a few seconds out of your day to self-reflect. Is travelling something you really like to do? I know it is for me, because when I spend money on travel, I don’t feel remorseful for spending the money.
Then, think of the things you could give up or, as Marie Kondo would say, “doesn’t sparks joy.” I used to buy a boat load of clothes only to have the tag on them by end of the year, ready to be donated. Why did I do that? I bought them on impulse, because they were on sale. The clothes brought me zero joy. I feel like it’s pure budgeting, and you need discipline to stick to your “rules”.
Now, the thing you came for…
What do I do to travel as cheaply but comfortably as possible.
Basic Supply and Demand
When everyone wants to get on a plane, there are limited, available seats. Then, the airlines are going to charge high prices. Why? Because the airline knows people are going to pay those prices if they truly want to fly on specific dates.
Go against the grain, and book a flight when it’s low season. Just like it’s 5 PM somewhere, there is always a low season somewhere. Fly to those lesser known places or go to your destination when others wouldn’t want to.
Points are your Best Friend
Stick to one airline to quickly accumulate enough points for a free flight. I chose to go with United as my main airline of choice. It works well for me, because I own a credit card with Chase and I can transfer my Chase points to United for miles.
I usually save my points for those times I fly during high season. The best flight options aren’t always available, but sometimes I don’t mind because I use that as an opportunity for my next point.
I Choose You, Layover
Some may hate extremely long layovers (7 hours+), but I love them. I love them, because it’s your chance to step out of the airport and explore another city for a little bit. The trick with choosing flights with long layovers is choosing a city that is close to the airport (i.e. Frankfurt, Dubai, etc.).
Look at your trip, and make sure it makes sense with your overall itinerary. For example, if you only have a week of vacation and you lose two days because you’re flying around the world, would it bother you to lose another day in a unplanned city?
Combine Location, Location, Location
If given the time and money, I like to combine locations so I can see multiple places in one trip. I love seeing new things. What I do is search for smaller countries or cities that I can explore in a few days. Then, I check which of those countries are located near each other or on the way to another location. It wouldn’t make sense for me to spend a few days in Djibouti and then lose a day to fly to Singapore.
Here are a few of my combo trips I’ve done in the past:
- San Francisco & Hawaii
- Seattle & Vancouver
- Iceland & Budapest & Barcelona
Bang for your Buck
The USD is one of the strongest currencies in the world. When you go to countries where the exchange rate is in the U.S.’s favor, you have more buying power. While the flights will cost the same regardless of exchange rate, you can cheaply purchase hotel or Airbnb stays. Also, I like booking day tours in those countries, because you get so much service for very little money.
Here are a few countries where your buying power increases:
Choose a Job that Works for You
Some people can’t be living that social media life; they have to work to make money. However, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. You can travel and work at the same time, if you choose the right career for you. Unless you live abroad, work travelling is not my favorite form of travelling. Personally for me, when I’m out to work, I make sure to be alert and focus for work. I do limited exploring.
However, that’s just me. If you have the energy to explore in your free time, why not? The company paid for your flight and hotel; it’s pretty much a free trip. You can also extend your stay after your work trip, so you only have to pay for those extra hotel stays. Better yet, if you don’t mind leaving your hometown, you can always live abroad and explore the surrounding area in your free time.
As you can see, you have a lot of options and affordability to travel. Take these tips with you. It will take discipline, creativity and flexibility, but if you really want it, you’ll do what it takes to get it. I promise you, once you get hooked, you won’t stop.
“Go get ’em, Tiger.” (Mary Jane, Spiderman)