123

Travel Hacking for Noobs: How We Save Hundreds on Airfare, Get Free Lodging, & Make Money Overseas

in Travel, Videos

BabyTravelHacker

Milligan and her monkey contemplate their favorite travel hacking tips. Photo by Courtney Baker.

Advanced travel hacking is an art form.  I have no doubts about that.

But, contrary to popular belief, getting started is actually quite simple.  So easy even a toddler could do it.  Literally.

But I’ll share a little secret with you…  it’s not as glamorous as most people think.  At least not for us.

We certainly aren’t professional travel hackers.  We aren’t the family you hear in those stories about traveling Southeast Asia for a year on only $127 dollars.  I speak only 1 language (Courtney speaks 2).  And we have nowhere close to 676,583 frequent flier miles like Chris Guillebeau.

We aren’t total noobs, though. We’ve had an in-your-face crash course over the last year and learned a ton.  I’m convinced that 80% of travel hacking is just opening your mind to possibilities you didn’t know existed.  I just made that statistic up on the spot…  but I’m fairly sure other intense travelers will agree.

Anyway, here are some tips and tricks to take you from naysayer to noob in as short of time frame as possible.

Join the Travel Hacking Cartel

Once you graduate to advanced (or if you are already there), I’d appreciate you teaching me everything you know in the comments below!  :-)

How We Find Airfare:  A Video Walkthrough of How to Save $521+

The video below is just over 20 minutes long.  In it I detail the basic process we use when trying to tackle a potential flight from scratch using a theoretical example.  If you’re an airfare noob (someone who only uses the Priceline.com), I really think you’ll find value in it:

[Note:  I'll be replacing this video with a higher quality version soon.]

[If the video doesn’t show up in your reader or e-mail, click here to watch now]

Obviously the example in the video speaks for itself.  However, here’s the summary version of our usual process for those of you who can’t watch the full video:

  • [0:00] - Video is a step-by-step walkthrough of how I would tackle a theoretical sample flight leaving from Christchurch, NZ to Bangkok, Thailand towards the end of this year.
  • [0:20] – Most people start with the larger online aggregator sites.  That’s fine to gain a ‘baseline’ price.
  • [0:40] - I recently have found Tripeedo.com which aggregates the aggregation sites!
  • [2:30]  - Research several of the sites and establish the baseline for airfare prices.
  • [3:30]   - Find the budget airlines that aren’t included in the aggregators, but that fly that route.  I use WhichBudget.com or basic Google searches.
  • [5:00] Visit the direct sites of the budget airlines (and major carriers, as well).  Look for specials on the front page that wouldn’t be included in the larger search sites.
  • [7:00] – Locate the common ‘hubs’ of the flight path.  The cities that are popular stop-overs for multi-leg flights.
  • [8:00] - Research the individual legs of the flight on the budget airline sites.  Look for ways to be flexible with travel dates, as it can save a lot of money.
  • [10:00] – Pay attention to different currencies.  Prices are often quoted in the starting point for the leg of the trip (which can mean you need to convert currency).
  • [12:00] - Compare the different fares for using different ‘hubs’.  In our case it’s flying through Sydney compared to flying through Melbourne or Hong Kong.
  • [14:30] - Convert exchange rates all to one currency to compare apples to apples.  I usually convert to USD to compare easily to aggregator sites.
  • [17:00] - After fee prices, our examples ends up being at least $521 dollars cheaper over the lowest price with the aggregator sites!  Around 25% off in less than 20 minutes.
  • [19:00] - Last tip, use social networks to find the best local sites for flight deals in each specific country.  GrabASeat.co.nz is a great on for New Zealand. (Certain flights for $1 every day)

Other suggestions I’ve learned when booking airfare:

  • Always call the airline direct before purchasing online. In rare cases, they actually have better deals (we have to do this anyway most of the time with an infant).
  • The more flexible you are willing to be, the more money you can save. Look at flying on different days of the week.  Or staying an extra day in a connecting ‘hub’ in order to take advantage of  a huge drop in flight prices.
  • Search all airports for a city or destination. For us, Chicago, Melbourne, and Brisbane/Gold Coast are all places where we’ve found deals at separate airports in the same area.
  • Be willing to take bumps if offered. On our Honeymoon, Courtney and I purposely gave ourselves room to take flight bumps if needed.  On the way home, we took one that resulted in free flights, meal vouchers, free overnight hotel, and a direct flight the next day (when our original flight had another connection left).  It was awesome!

Even under my current system, I know this is just the very tip of the iceberg.  There is much more that Courtney and I could be doing in this area.  For example, we are not taking nearly as big of advantage of frequent flier miles as we could be.  I didn’t realize just how bad we were, until I was blown away by Chris Guillebeau’s new Frequent Flyer Master eBook.  It’s actually embarrassing how much money we’ve left on the table from not doing very simple things.  I’ll provide more info on this at the bottom of the article for those interested.

Couchsurfing, Hostels, & Wwoofing…  Oh My!

Another area where Courtney and I have been able to save a lot of money has been in accommodation.  (Well, at least until we rented the apartment).  :-)

First, we’ve fully shot-gunned the Couchsurfing kool-aid.  When we first arrived, we were very skeptical.  We hadn’t planned on using the service, although we had heard great things.  But after our first experience with it, we were blown away.

For any of you that don’t know, CouchSurfing.com is essentially a social networking site for travelers and people willing to host travelers.  Think of it as a Facebook for backpackers and world travelers.

I wrote an extensive article covering the basics of CouchSurfing over at Get Rich Slowly.  If you want more information check out my thoughts there.  I’ve also written here on our amazing experiences with our hosts in Townsville, AUS and Auckland, NZ.

The value of Couchsurfing extends far, far beyond a free place to sleep.  Our hosts have provided many of our most memorable moments and saved us hundreds of dollars with their recommendations, expertise, and knowledge of the local area.

Here are my top 5 CouchSurfing tips from the Get Rich Slowly post:

  1. Spend quality time on filling out your profile honestly!
  2. Put up as many pictures as you can!
  3. Utilize the filters when searching for hosts!
  4. Completely read the profile and references of potential hosts!
  5. Reference parts of the host’s profile when requesting to “surf”!

I electorate more specifically on these points in the post, as well.

CouchSurfing is just one of several networks like this.  However, it’s been the only one we’ve actually used.

Willing Work On Organic Farms

Wwoofing for short, is a website/community of people who (in general) provide a room and meals in exchange for work.  In many cases, this work is on some sort of farm, vineyard, orchard or similar set-up.  However, like CouchSurfing, there is plenty of variety if you search around.

Courtney and I paid for a membership to the New Zealand community and even went as far as to contact several of the opportunities that were listed.  This was our back-up plan if obtaining a sponsored visa was going to carry a longer waiting period.

Through wwoofing we would have been able to stretch our money much further.  Most of the arrangements we contacted involved 5-6 hours of work a day for the room and included 3 home cooked meals.  There were places that welcomed families and those that didn’t.

Usually these are longer commitments than say Couchsurfing.  Most last anywhere from a week to several months, which is perfect for extending your trip in places you’d like to explore more!

Tapping into your social network!

This is another technique that we’ve used and that I plan on using more and more going forward.  As social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and others continue to rise, the world is growing smaller and smaller.  These days, a simple tweet or posting an update on Facebook can gain lots of feedback.

For example, if you are reading this… I am in your extended network.  If you wanted to travel to Argentina, Barbados, Japan, India, Ireland or nearly anywhere in the world, I just so happen to know a friendly face who would love to help provide you with information.

Don’t hesitate to use your social networks or to e-mail me to ask for help when planning an extended trip.  Through friends of friends it’s easier than ever to get in touch with locals who know the area like the back of their hand.

They might provide an actual place to stay or may know a suggestion for discounted accommodation.  They might be able to tip you off on budget airlines or country specific airfare sites like grabaseat.co.nz here in New Zealand.

Hostels aren’t just for singles looking to party.

Hostels seem to have bad raps due to movies and popular culture references.  There’s no doubt in my mind that some of them suck.  Most travelers have been into dirty, noisy hostels (and stayed in them) at some point.

But we’ve also been able to find perfectly reasonable hostels that were clean and free of late night noise.  In our experience, hostels overseas have been much like Motels in the States.  Some you wouldn’t step foot in, but many are perfectly fine.

Our custom hostel hunting tips from recent experience:

  • Look for hostels that aren’t right downtown or right on the strip. The ones a couple blocks away are often less noisy and have fewer of the ‘party’ crowd.
  • Look for smaller, quaint mom-and-pop type hostels. These often have a bit more pride of ownership than some of the massive discount chains.  We’ve had some very positive experiences with smaller local hostels.
  • Walk around the entire hostel. Check the bathrooms and the kitchen areas and see how clean they are kept.  You can usually tell a lot more from these areas than the specific room.
  • Look for rooms with fans and/or air conditioners (non coin operated).  With a fan or air conditioner on, you can seriously negate any outside noise (plus it’s cooler).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for discounted rates or to offer some sort of cleaning and or work in trade for discounts.  In nearly all of the hostels we’ve stayed a portion of the people in the rooms helped out in some way for a cheaper rate.

Using some of the above tips, we’ve been able to find very reasonable lodging at great rates.  We’ve been 100% comfortable staying in hostels even with a 1-year old and have experienced no problems (other than maybe a harder-than-average bed occasionally).  :-)

House-sitting

We’ve only had limited experience with this, however it is a realistic option, especially if you can tap into your connections.  Our house-sitting experience came about through CouchSurfing.  A couple that had hosted us was leaving overseas for a month themselves.  It was cheaper for us to stay in the home and take care of their cat than it was for them to pay to board her.

This helped us have a rent-free month while we were awaiting Courtney’s work permit.

Income On the Road:  Visas, Job Hunting, & Freelancing

The last major area we’ve been able to find limited success is in creating some sort of income while traveling.  This is essential for travel hacking noobs as it can help fund the journey into ‘elite’ status.  :-)

My biggest advice here is to fully study the visa options upfront.  We’ve gotten into trouble several times in this category, nearly all of which have been my own personal fault.

If you are young and without dependents, many countries offer a working-holiday arrangement.  It’s easy to use Google and find out the specific of your target destinations.  It’s common to be able to use this visa for up to a year and many of the countries require you to work for no longer than 6 months at any single job.

This is great if you have experience waiting tables, bartending, cleaning, or any other commonly needed skill.  Even in this ‘horrible global economy’ there seems to be an overwhelming amount of opportunities in every city we’ve encountered for this type of basic work.

In our case, Milligan disqualifies us from obtaining this sort of easy working option.  Even so, Courtney was able to obtain find a school willing to sponsor her to teach here in New Zealand.  She even qualified for a $2000 NZD relocation grant to help with expenses.

This was a fairly intensive process and we made a lot of mistakes, but have proven it’s very possible.  If you have a marketable degree, you can bump into all sorts of opportunities while traveling.

Freelance This!

Another popular option for travel hackers is to do freelance work.  This can be in a variety of areas, including writing, blogging, graphic design, consulting, and data entry.

Until recently, I wouldn’t have considered this a viable possibility.  But in a short amount of time, I’ve been able to build up the ability to generate $2000-$2500 per month in freelance income if I were to devote myself full-time to freelancing.  That’s not in the cards right now for me, however it’s a great back-up plan for traveling in cheap countries.

But you don’t have to be a formal writer to freelance even in the blogging world.  Prior to march, I hadn’t written anything.  I’d never been exposed to blogging or even consider writing as a hobby or career.  My point is that many of these fields are very easy to get into it.

For starters, you can search some of the most popular job posting sites for online writers:

Of course, writing is just one example.  Many people have some sort of skill they can market online if they are willing to spend the time researching all of the emerging possibilities!

Other Travel Tips We’ve Experience First-Hand

  • Stop buying stupid trinkets. Seriously, 99% of souvenirs are an absolute waste.  If you must buy something on your trip, make it functional.  Buying unique clothes, for example, is something that will provide a memory, but also give direct value.  Also, you can consider buying travel gear you are sure to use, such as a handy flashlight, water canteen, a sturdy watch, etc…  Other than those things, just take pictures.  The pictures will end up being your most valuable asset.  So take all the money you say from buying useless crap and get a decent camera!
  • Pack as light as possible! Once you’ve packed light, throw out half of what you’ve packed and you should be ready.  Everyone I know that travels points out that they started with too much stuff.  I know we did, even though it seemed like we brought nothing. Light packing can save you direct money on items like baggage fees, but the real value is in the time and stress it saves you.  When in doubt, just buy it when you get there.  Chances are you won’t need it anyway.
  • Consider Public Transportation.  You don’t have to rent a car everywhere you go.  For long-term travel sometimes this can be a bigger burden than benefit.  We had a great bus trip (up until the last 15 minutes) from Cairns to Townsville down Australia’s eastern coast.  I’ve had friends report having a blast taking the rail through Europe instead of renting a car or hoping on and off planes.  It’s a great way to travel slowly, save money (most of the time), and see different parts of the country.  Obviously, you have to use common sense and sometimes a car is the best option.  Just make sure you are open to multiple avenues of getting around.

Chris Guillebeau’s Frequent Flyer Master Endorsement

Let me just say this…  I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole really went on this frequent flyer stuff.

For example:

  • Chris went to get a free hair-loss consultation because there was a 20,000 bonus miles promotion just for showing up.  (Haha)
  • How people order thousands of dollar in coins from the U.S. mint and then turn them into the bank for the miles.
  • How to get $40 Hilton Hotel credits and $50 Expedia credits multiple times a month.
  • How to get 10k miles just for graduating college (C’mon Courtney!)
  • The costs that you do incur even with ‘free’ trips and how to minimize them
  • And the best and worst programs for collecting miles.  Chris names names.

But, my personal favorite was the name of the bank that actually has a DEBIT card that earns miles. Woot! Woot!  I’m personally checking into this local bank next week.

As always you get a full e-book, a 20-minute audio, a 4-page Priceline specific guide and month’s worth of continual updates on new changes in 2010 as they emerge.

Most importantly, Chris has gotten pretty bold this time.  He has guaranteed that you will earn at least 25,000 air miles in the first 90 days with the guide, which is enough for one free domestic flight.  If you don’t earn the free flight in the first 3-months, just ask for a refund.  Like I said… a bold offer.

What about you?

At what stage of the travel hacking journey are you?  Are you a bonafide travel ninja or just another noob getting started?

What are your top tips for saving money while on the road?  What about making money?

I’m looking forward on taking your tips and taking my game to the next level!


{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Jabs November 5, 2009 at 11:59 AM

I think Milligan is the real brains of this operation. She’s beautiful man… good thing she looks like her mother eh! :-)

Once we pay off all our debt, we would love to travel around and work on different organic farms for a summer. Not only would it give us awesome travel adventures to have and hold forever, it will also help us learn to grow food properly… which we will need to know for when we get our 20 acres and start our homestead.

Great stuff Baker… make sure you three are really soaking all this up, because you will remember these experiences fondly for the rest of your days.

Cheers!
.-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..Monthly Debt Reduction & Savings Statement for Aug, Sept, & Oct 2009 – The Question Edition =-.

Reply

Credit Card Chaser November 6, 2009 at 1:51 AM

Nice! I worked on a farm every summer from about age 10-18 and I am very appreciative of all that it taught me. I always threaten my wife that I am going to make all of my kids work on a farm for at least one summer so they can learn the value of hard work in a hurry :) I am with you though and would love to get a big plot of land someday. :) – Joel
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..Chris Dodd Indirectly Wants to to Make it Harder to Get a Credit Card =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:51 AM

Thanks, Matt!

Yeah, the pull of testing of Wwoof was actually REALLY strong at one point. The slow, calm travel seemed like a great break for us. Although, the visa ended up taking way less time and it didn’t make the most sense for us after all.

You should do it man. Knock that debt out, and try your hand at some different places to see what you like!

Reply

Dave - LifeExcursion November 5, 2009 at 12:16 PM

The biggest mistake many people make is not being patient. I think there are great deals if people, including myself, would be more patient. That is how I got round trip tickets to Australia for $682.

I have found the best way to travel is to allow everything to just happen. Don’t stress and just enjoy the experience. Obviously, safety is a big concern, but for the most part we are safe traveling. We just think someone is out to get us around every corner.

Patience will lead to the best travel experience. Using Adam Baker’s tips here will definitely propel your trip to success on a small budget.

Check out How to Travel with 10 Pounds or Less by Tim Ferris http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/07/11/how-to-travel-the-world-with-10-pounds-or-less-plus-how-to-negotiate-convertibles-and-luxury-treehouses/

David Damron
LifeExcursion
.-= Dave – LifeExcursion´s last blog ..I Need Your Help =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:52 AM

Dave, I second that patience part. It’s part of our slow travel philosophy, but unfortunately we tend to back ourselves into corners when making last second decisions! Haha.

But if you know you are going to be heading out somewhere and are able to patience check fares and deals every once and awhile you can find some amazing swings in prices! Great tip.

Reply

Craig November 5, 2009 at 12:30 PM

As a lover of travel and have been on plenty of trips myself this is great advice. I have stayed in many hostels and they really help out when saving money. Pack as light as possible, no need to bring a lot and save on food where you can. Although I have never couchsurfed I know people who have with positive experiences.

Reply

Money Funk November 5, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Thank you for the Wwoof site – I would love to learn the ins and out of organic gardening. And to learn in a different location than my own backyard – fabulous!

I think it is great that you and Courtney set your goals and made them happen. And when things get tough, you two keep persisting with great strides.
It is also great that you are helping other people learn from your mistakes.
How does Courtney like teaching in NZ?
.-= Money Funk´s last blog ..I’m Selling Everything I Own =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:53 AM

She really likes how the school are set up here (at least the one she is at). I won’t speak for her 100%, however I will tell you that I’ll have more information coming from her soon!

;-)

Reply

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen November 5, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Monster post Adam! Great work!

I always recommend teaching English in Japan, Korea or China for your first experience abroad. Your employer will handle visa issues and you will have help getting setup in the new country. Best of all you won’t have to worry about income.

Once you are settled, start looking at other opportunities or starting your own business.
.-= John Bardos – JetSetCitizen´s last blog ..Interview with Traveling Nomad, DeeAnne White =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:55 AM

Teaching English as a second language is an awesome tip. We’ve actually looked into doing this multiple times, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was in our future, though!

Thanks for adding this. Very tangible option for a lot of people!

Reply

Foxie | CarsxGirl November 5, 2009 at 12:53 PM

It’s a shame that I actually have some frequent flyer miles that I haven’t had any idea of how to access, let alone use. (I was just going to turn them into gift cards… It’s a few thousand from a domestic flight to Jersey and international to England. Enough that would warrant me an upgrade on a domestic flight, I think.) They were with Northwest, but I think I got a new card from some other airline and they switched hands there. I’d need to change my name on the stuff anyhow, which seems like a pain, and they never spelled it right to begin with… Sigh. They’ve seemed like a bigger hassle then what’s worth it to me!

Hmmm, depending on how soon we can start saving for Japan, ya might need to send me those contacts Baker. ;) Probably not as soon as I’d like, sadly, but at least we’ll be in a new place to explore and plenty of domestic places to get to before we need to go international. :)
.-= Foxie | CarsxGirl´s last blog ..Is there a car that really fits you? =-.

Reply

Foxie | CarsxGirl November 5, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Ah, my bad, I forgot I wanted to touch on one more thing:

“Stop buying stupid trinkets. Seriously, 99% of souvenirs are an absolute waste. If you must buy something on your trip, make it functional. Buying unique clothes, for example, is something that will provide a memory, but also give direct value.”

So true!!! In fact, I’m wearing one of my “souvenirs” right now… My FCUK (That’s French Connection United Kingdom, if you didn’t know) sweatshirt that my awesome husband bought for me. Every time I wear it or my super dirty Pumas, I remember picking them out and buying them in Cambridge. :) The Pumas are dirty and won’t come clean after I wore them to London for New Year’s. Ah, memories! (Clothes are my favorite type of souvenir…… If I feel I need one.)
.-= Foxie | CarsxGirl´s last blog ..Is there a car that really fits you? =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:57 AM

I hear you on the airline miles, Foxie. I really am embarrassed at how badly we’ve handle that process. Chris makes me super jealous! :-)

And, yeah, in general we go the clothes and photo route. Sometimes I have a hard time from keeping Courtney from buying a little something, but it’s usually tiny, like a keychain or something! :-)

Reply

Tyler Karaszewski November 5, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Let me be annoying and nitpicky for a moment. I disapprove of this use of the word “hack”. A “hack” should be something that doesn’t seem like it should work, but does. It should go around the bounds of the regular system, or at least, down a path normally not recommended.

Here’s an awesome travel hack: Come to the US from Mexico and live here for 20 years with no green card. That’s a great hack.

“Take public transit” isn’t a hack at all. It’s just a money-saving tip.

Other good travel hacking ideas:
* How to go to Cuba with a US passport.
* How to overstay your visa in any country and still be let out when you want to leave (bonus: being allowed to come back).
* How to get away with working while traveling without a visa that allows it.

These things are hacks. How to save money on airfare isn’t, unless it exploits loopholes in the system. Even still, it’s more a money-saving hack than a travel hack.

People who’ve never actually written “//Hack” in source code should be very careful before co-opting the word and applying it to other disciplines, because there’s a good chance they really don’t understand what it means.

// Hack: If size is negative let’s try adding 2^32 to fix it
if ((size < 0) && (negativeSize))
{
size += (((int64_t)1) << 32);
}

Reply

Baker November 5, 2009 at 1:10 PM

It sounds like all your travel hack examples involve breaking the law!

Plus Travel Money-Saving Tips for Noobs just doesn’t flow as well. I’m assuming you don’t subscribe to LifeHacker.com ;-).

Reply

Tyler Karaszewski November 5, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Well, that’s the essence of a hack — it’s breaking the rules. In a computer, these rules aren’t laws you can be arrested for violating, but in travel, they often are. “Working within established guidelines and regulations” is not hacking.

And you mean that useless and distracting web browser extension website, right? :P Their most recent article is on how to store cheese. They’ve also got a recent one titled “XBMC 9.11 Alpha Improves Playback and Skinning Powers”. I don’t know what that is, but I doubt that reading that article will make any material difference in my life, either.

Reply

Kevin M November 5, 2009 at 5:23 PM

I always thought of a “hack” as being a solution that’s different than the norm – I’m not a software guy though. I think a lot of Baker’s examples here fit the bill.

Maybe it should have been called “Creative Travel for Noobs”.

Reply

Jill MacGregor November 5, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Wow–this is such great information and most of it is news to me! Thanks for continuing to be such a great resource. This is much appreciated!
PS–Milligan is redonkulously adorable.
Take Care,
Jill
.-= Jill MacGregor´s last blog ..Digital as a Second Language =-.

Reply

B Kinch November 5, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Before my husband became a programmer/database/developer/geek, he worked in the hotel industry. If travel is your dream, but you still have to work a day job too, working in the industry is nice. We got incredible rates at other hotels (the “industry discount”) and prizes at his office parties often included week-long stays at four star joints, travel gift certificates etc. If you ever find yourself staying at a fine hotel, ASK if there are free upgrades available. Also ASK what discounts are available. If it’s a slow day, the hotel will generally get you a room cheap, because making $40 on a room beats leaving the room empty. This works especially well around the holidays in areas that are not ski destinations!
.-= B Kinch´s last blog ..Happiness is…ka-ching =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 4:59 AM

B, I’ve heard this from a lot of other people, too. Originally we wanted to work a little in the travel sector when we first arrived. This is still a possibility for us in some part, although we’ve put that on the back burner a bit to put time into the blog.

Although we haven’t tried it, I’d strongly suggest this. A good way to live a little bit of a ‘vacation life’ while still traveling. Scuba dive instructor, anyone? ;-)

Reply

Erin November 5, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Another excellent post- thanks! We’ll be using many of those tips when we become permanent nomads in March. House sitting, couchsurfing and woofing have really opened up the possibilities for us to travel cheaply for a long time.

One of our best experiences during our year-long round the world trip in 2008 was Woofing on a farm in Australia for 10 days. We stayed in a beautiful house in the middle of the bush, and met a wonderful family in exchange for 4 hours gardening a day. We didn’t spend a penny while we were there and had an amazing time.

Another site similar to WWOOF is http://www.helpx.net. The advantage of this is that one membership gives you access to opportunities all over the world, whereas for WWOOF you need to join in each country. I just hope we can find some opportunities in South America, as it’s less common than in Australia/NZ/Europe.

There are also some great house sitting assignments on http://www.mindmyhouse.com
.-= Erin´s last blog ..The Best Homestay in Kerala – Community Greenpalm Homes Review (Part 2) =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:01 AM

Erin, thanks for these awesome resources! I appreciate you adding them.

You’re upcoming full-time adventure in March sounds awesome! What’s your starting destination (South America)?

Reply

G. Fisher November 5, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Housesitting has allowed my husband and I to travel to Nova Scotia, Boston, the Downeast Maine coast, and France. We’re now planning a trip to China. Several years ago I stumbled upon The Caretaker Gazette (www.caretaker.org), which has dozens of housesitting and caretaking ads. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities for travel. I estimate that during our 6-week stay in France, we saved $8400 in accomodation costs.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:02 AM

Wow, this is inspiring actually. We’ve done very little other than the one month-long event here in New Zealand. I should probably look into this a little more. I keep hearing more and more great stories about success with this.

Thanks!

Reply

Anthony K. November 5, 2009 at 3:11 PM

As someone who WANTS to do some traveling, these are great tips.

Being stationed in Germany, I have used the rail system and I really enjoy it. A little longer than a car takes, cheaper then gas and WAY cheaper then airfare. Though, I have noticed a few smaller airlines that do offer great flight prices (23 euro from Munich to Dublin for example…and that was on St. Patrick’s Day weekend).

Definitely going to store this post for future reference ;)

Thanks again for a great post.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:03 AM

Thanks, Anthony!

P.S. I appreciate your service. You rock!

Reply

Casey November 5, 2009 at 3:58 PM

The best tip on finding a top hostel is to talk with other travelers who have crossed those parts before meeting you. Fellow travelers have the most up-to-date info and you can usually gauge their reliability by your chatting with them and explaining what you are looking for.

Great tips Adam. Can’t wait to hear about the trip to Asia!
.-= Casey´s last blog ..We Are All Weird =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:04 AM

Awesome suggestion, Casey. We’ve actually done this plenty, but I didn’t allude to it above.

What I found interesting is asking about a completely different city or country, too. I was shocked at how diverse some of the traveler’s were. We received many suggestions on New Zealand while at hostels in Australia! :-)

Reply

Casey November 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM

By the way, great picture by your wife. I look forward to more photos by you guys. You won’t be able to download them fast enough in Thailand, haha.

Reply

L November 5, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Love the tips. I have tried hostels a few times and find they are hit or miss. I can not house sat, but when we go on vacation we have someone house sit for us and it saves big by not having to board our pets. In the past we have used friends who have roommates, they come to our house and stay alone, or an out of town relative who can enjoy Florida on the cheap. I just returned from a 7 day stay on Isla Mujeres, Mexico (small island off of Cancun). Which is a great tip. Find a place you want to go and search the area around it. Isla Mujeres is a small island, with small town Mexican charm. Entire trip $1400 paid in cash (we splurged for $300 and swam with dophins, sea lions, and mammals). I really want to work in a differnt country, but still trying to make my husband see the light…

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:07 AM

Nice, we will have to look into Isla Mujeres!

This is another fantastic suggestion. I feel like Auckland is this way in New Zealand. Right now, it’s where the work opportunity is, however I know even just a couple horus away there would be some fascinating smaller towns at a fraction of the cost of living.

Reply

soultravelers3 November 5, 2009 at 7:50 PM

I love your enthusiasm! Your baby sure is a cutie!

Great ideas, but so far in our open ended world tour as a family (non-stop since 2006 to 4 continents, 32 countries so far) we haven’t used many of them yet. We do hope to try out couch surfing & woofing one of these days. How you “travel hack” depends a lot on where you are traveling to. Travel light is always key! ;)

One way that we save a ton is that we rarely take planes! We’ve traveled over 175,000 miles ..but almost never take a plane. We have used every mode of transportation from cargo ships to camels! ;) We like slow travel (big money saver) which is also most compatible for families and digital nomads. It is also best for the planet and most enriching I think.

Other ideas? Live like a native, cook your own healthy food, don’t save in dollars, have an off shore bank, learn about fiat currencies,walk & take mass transit, follow weather for comfort & save on fuel costs, spend more time in smaller towns than big cities etc etc etc.

The best & cheapest way for a family to see Europe on extended travel is via small motor home (car & tent is even cheaper). Right now we are in a lux resort in Barcelona with 3 pools,zoo restaurant,gym,sauna,steam room,playgrounds, kids clubs,wifi,etc etc for only 17 bucks a night! Some winter here!

Soon we will head to our beautiful 15th century village & get a luxurious med sea view rental home for the winter…where we can walk to everything! We live cheaper there than many friends do in SE Asia!
.-= soultravelers3´s last blog ..Best Halloween! Europe or U.S.? =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:11 AM

Soultravelers3… It’s awesome to have you guys swing by. I’m a secret (not really secret) admirer of your family and site.

We have so much to learn about traveling cheaply as a family! We’d love to tackle Europe in the coming years and I can see the campervan option very clearly.

I’ll have to dig in and get some more tips on the options you’ve outlined above. Keep rockin’ and inspiring! :-)

Reply

Holly November 5, 2009 at 8:36 PM

I’m not too seasoned a traveler, but if you stay at a hostel, definitely talk to the other people staying there. I learned an enormous amount from staying at a backpackers hostel during my trip to Vietnam.

Also, check out the street food. Make sure to do research on the country to make sure it’s safe, but in many places, the street food will be super cheap and absolutely delicious.

Reply

Brian November 5, 2009 at 10:56 PM

All great ideas and tips. I think researching some of this is intimidating to the newbie traveler. I know when I planned my round the world trip there are resources all over the place. Glad you put this post together.
.-= Brian´s last blog ..Gorgeous Shots of Australia – Debbie’s Does Oz =-.

Reply

Mike November 6, 2009 at 12:30 AM

Great post. I would just like to reiterate the awesomeness that is Couchsurfing! I haven’t experienced it personally (yet) but I first found out about it through my brother when he went to Thailand and India. He came back with so many cool stories about his awesome hosts, who in some cases even had spare guest bedrooms, so he and his girl didn’t have to sleep in a couch! The cool thing also, is that you also will meet other travelers that are with the same host and in my brother’s case, he reconnected with these people at other places like when he was doing some climbing at Railay Beach (lucky bastard!). Also, I didn’t know this but there is a whole thriving community with couchsurfing and travelers can rate different hosts, so people are almost 100% guaranteed a positive experience!
.-= Mike´s last blog ..In Case of Emergency Break Piggy Bank =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:28 AM

Yeah, everyone we have stayed with has had separate rooms. There are all sorts of different accommodation/hosts available if you look :-).

Reply

Financial Samurai November 6, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Thnx for the post Baker!

Is it possible to buy others frequent flier miles off others, and thereby save some money?
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..I Saw My “FlashForward” And It Was Beautiful =-.

Reply

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:29 AM

FS, Chris briefly covers this in his guide. There are different areas to do this in, although I’m not sure how effective it really is!

I’d try e-mailing Chris if you want more info.

Reply

Gordie Rogers November 6, 2009 at 7:03 AM

I think by far the best souvenirs are photos. All you need is a decent digital camera and somewhere to load those photos to.
.-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..Help! I’m At A Lifestyle Design Crossroads. =-.

Reply

Megan November 6, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Really enjoyed this post Baker, especially the advice that 99% of souvenirs are worthless. When I was spending a summer in Peru, we had the choice to hike the Incan Trail to Machu Piccu or stay in Cusco. The people who stayed in Cusco got a bunch of trinkets (bought at the markets because they were bored), but those of us who did the hike got an experience that we will never forget. I always prioritize experiences over stuff when traveling.

Additionally, I had wonderful experiences with CouchSurfing in Europe. Like you, I benefited from not spending money on hostels or hotels, enjoyed seeing where real people lived in the capital cities, and benefited from their knowledge of what not to miss and what not to bother with. Worth a try if you want a more authentic traveling experience.

Reply

Mike Long November 6, 2009 at 12:12 PM

One thing I generally don’t see discussed anywhere, and sure wish it would be, is the viability of world travel for someone who is an **insanely** picky eater.

Though I’m blessed not to have a weight problem, I operate exclusively under the standard American diet – meat and potatoes. You won’t get me to touch a veggie (other than the occasional few spoonfuls of peas, or green beans), and they only way I can get a piece of fruit down is blended into a smoothie.

And even within the confines of my limited diet, my tolerance to spices and seasonings is extremely limited.

This, more than any other single thing, keeps me from leaving the next and trying out the world in different locales. I’m literally concerned about starving to death! Funny as it probably sounds to many, I have a hugely sensitive gag reflex, and “just trying new things” as so many flippantly say to me, often results in a …… reversal of fortune, so to speak. ;)

Am I just stuck … trapped by my complete inability to adapt to food sources outside of what I currently consume? Or is there a possibility of being able to stay within the strict confines of my diet in a few other countries (I’m assuming Canada, Australia and New Zealand would be possibilities.

Thanks!

Reply

Tyler Karaszewski November 6, 2009 at 8:07 PM

You can eat plain rice and beans pretty much anywhere. That’s a stupid problem, and an even stupider reason not to travel. You really think you can’t get chicken and rice in 90% of the world?

Yeah, that sounds insulting, but seriously — you might as well have said you don’t want to travel because you don’t like taking taxis, other people’s cars are dirty and gross you out. It’d be about as relevant.

Reply

Mike Long November 6, 2009 at 8:13 PM

See? This is what I get every time I ask this question. People who insult me because they are absolutely clueless as to the seriousness of the situation.

I’ll make it really simple so you can understand it.

I. Don’t. Like. Rice. And. Beans.

What part of “meat and potatoes” did you miss? And for the record, I can tolerate chicken….barely. But not as an everyday diet.

Forget it. No one has any earthly idea what I’m talking about. Every time I ask this question, all I get is ridicule.

Just be thankful you aren’t in this position, and kindly keep your snide comments to yourself.
.-= Mike Long´s last blog ..TheraBreath Tonsil Stones Kits =-.

Reply

Mike Long November 6, 2009 at 8:15 PM

Oh, and since this tends to happen any time I try a new food that I don’t like, feel free to come by my house anytime. I’d be more than happy to attempt to eat a tomato and promptly throw up all over you. :)
.-= Mike Long´s last blog ..TheraBreath Tonsil Stones Kits =-.

Reply

Tyler Karaszewski November 6, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Seriously, you eat *nothing* but beef and potatoes? What’d you have for breakfast today? How do you not suffer from vitamin deficiencies? Have you seen a doctor about this? It sounds unhealthy.

You won’t eat bread?

Even *still* meat and potatoes are available at every grocery store in every first world country in the world. What do you think of when you think of Irish food, or German food? Maybe India would be a crappy place for you to visit, but still, your limited diet is limited to two of the most common foods around.

Reply

dan November 4, 2010 at 3:47 AM

I don’t know what vitamin deficiencies you are talking about, Tyler, but if you eat the right quantity of potatoes alone, you can surpass all the RDA requirements for almost all nutrients. Since meat i(especially organ meat) is as nutrient dense as any vegetables, if you add that to potatoes, I’d say you’re not suffering from any deficiencies.

Baker November 7, 2009 at 5:33 AM

While obviously there’s been a little back and forth, I fall in the middle here.

I think even as a picky eater, you’ll be able to find plenty of countries with as many options as you have here (if not much more). Traveling slowly would ensure that you never get stranded, as well.

Most importantly, though, travel may open you up a little bit. If you slowly try small amount of foreign food, you may find those that mesh better than your standard routine here.

I obviously don’t know what sort of ‘condition’ you have in full. But in my own experience, traveling has opened up me up in this area myself.

Don’t use it as an excuse, though! You have tons of options! :-)

Reply

Miriam July 4, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I’d suggest staying in a hostel anywhere. They have kitchens (w/ pots and pans) available for public use. Then go shopping at a local food store (the biggest one in the area). Pick out things you can cook and eat (potatoes, meat). Most/many countries will have something you can eat – if you cook it to your specs. This is something you can research beforehand – as to what stores are nearby, what kinds of foods are available in that area to buy, etc. Start in a less-threatening location (Canada, EU, UK) and branch out from there. Good luck.

Reply

Shawanda November 8, 2009 at 12:07 AM

I appreciate you reaching out to the less experienced travelers. I’m one of them. With the exception of the Bahamas, I’ve never left the United States. Recently, I told my boss that I’m embarking on overseas travel some time during the 1st quarter of 2010. South America, Africa, and Antarctica are out. I’ve narrowed down my world travel to three continents. I guess I have a lot of work to do.
.-= Shawanda´s last blog ..Cinco de Weeko =-.

Reply

oramd November 9, 2009 at 6:09 AM

Wow–this is such great information and good news to me! Thanks for continuing to be such a great resource. This is much appreciated!

Reply

Tom Kerswill November 10, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Awesome guide – thanks! We’ve done similar things – eg. getting a flight from Liverpool to Oslo for 1 penny (using SkyScanner to locate cheap flights). But the rest of the trimmings (hotels, transport from the airport, etc.) always add up. So it’s good to read a complete guide! Many thanks for this,
Tom
.-= Tom Kerswill´s last blog ..Skyscanner and cheap flights =-.

Reply

Eric November 10, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Great post! I found your blog through Hacker News. I will be adding it to my RSS reader.

One comment I did want to make is on trinkets. I have done some traveling internationally and agree that most things you buy are not worth it. Because of that, I have taken to buying the same thing in every country I visit. I buy a flag. There are several advantages to it:

1. You can always find one, in my experience. Sometimes you have to search for one but I’ve been able to find one everywhere I’ve gone.
2. Every flag is unique. You will have a distinct item from each country you visit.
3. Flags are easily portable. They fold up in your bag well without taking too much space and you don’t have to worry about breaking them.

I try to find my flag early in the trip in case it is hard to come by. Once I’ve got it, I don’t have to worry about buying anything else and can just enjoy being wherever I am.

Reply

Robert November 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Flexibility is probably key, especially when it comes to scheduling flight times/dates. If you need to leave on Friday morning, why not wait until afternoon for something cheaper? Or maybe even Thursday or Saturday? Also, I’ve found that booking WAY early saves money, too. Not exactly the most romantic, spontaneous way to book a vacation, but it’s definitely the most cost-effective.

Reply

Rachel November 20, 2009 at 4:58 PM

In addition to Which Budget, check out Sky Scanner and Budget Flight Finder. Sky scanner has prices, which saves some time in searching, and Budget Flight Finder is quite good about stringing different routes together to find a way from A to B that the other sites won’t.

Reply

Tom Kerswill November 22, 2009 at 1:04 PM

@Rachel, I like the sound of the budget flight finder… eg. finding a route which stops off at lots of different places. Skyscanner’s quite good at finding indirect flights, but it would be good to be able to plan a trip with stopovers.
.-= Tom Kerswill´s last blog ..New compensation for delayed flights EU ruling =-.

Reply

Łukasz December 3, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Adam,

Quick tip regarding your price research. You can actually use google not only for getting exchange rate but also to calculate given value in foreign currency. Just enter into google: 535 AUD in USD and you’ll get result.

Cheers

Reply

Heather McF December 13, 2009 at 6:08 AM

I know I’m way late to this party, but I just wanted to thank you for linking to the WWOOF website. It’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do for YEARS but couldn’t figure out how — and the rest of your tips will help me get there!

Seriously, cannot thank you enough for this post.

Reply

Thanksforthefood March 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

I read some of the back and forth between Mike and Tyler. Just thought I’d put in my two cents.

I am an American living and working in Norway. I was an exchange student in England in the early 2000’s and have lived abroad for the past 5 years. I have been in Norway since 2007. Prior to here I was in Germany for 2 years + in Austria/Prauge/Italy for 6 months. I have also traveled through most of Europe-excluding the Baltic countries-but Riga here I come this fall! Anyway, I’m saying I’ve been a foreigner in a foreign land for a while + love cooking and food, so think I have some perspective.

I have the opposite problem that Mike does. I love spicy, aromatic foods (and chicken, beans, rice, most vegetables, olives, hard and semi-hard cheese, etc.) and would die if all I had available to eat was meat and potatoes. People who enjoy eating a variety of foods would be concerned about moving to or traveling in a country where only one thing was available (or readily available at reasonable to semi-reasonable prices). Same can be said for anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions (keeping kosher, veganism, major food allergy to dairy, wheat or nuts). Again, it’s not as easy as it seems.

I say good on Mike for being open and honest about his preferences and asking the honest question.

Yes, most things are available in most places nowadays, so the question IMO is more what do you want to pay for what you eat-not if it is available or not. If I didn’t like seafood, living in Norway would be more expensive, as most types of fish are less than half the price of beef. Of course I can buy beef here, but do I really want to pay the insane prices I see in the supermarket? Most of the time my answer is no.

I understand that for Mike it isn’t a question of simply “like”-it’s more a question of what he can keep down too but honestly, I think most people are picky eaters in their own way (try selling cabesa tacos on main street Kansas-not happening, well probably not). Most of us have tastes that are shaped by a multitude of things in our lives and we should not be expected to totally abandon all of that because we decide to start traveling. If anyone ever suggested I stop eating Mexican food or curry simply because I live in Norway (and believe me they have), I’d be very inclined to tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

One tip for you Mike when/if you start traveling outside of the U.S.-make your own food if possible. When I lived in the U.S. I ate out a lot-and now, I cook almost everything from scratch at home. That way I can get what I want to my preferences. I can make the most fragrant, spicy curries every day of the week if I want. If you’re traveling and can’t cook on your own, eat out of grocery stores (do you eat bread? I’ve easily popped into grocery stores for bulk rolls, sliced cheeses, cold cuts, tinned tuna, yogurt, fruit, nuts, chips, veg while on the road for daytime lunches and picnics. No, not meat and potatoes but if you eat anything else besides that at all, you do have options). There are also some restaurants that would suit a palette where freshly ground black pepper and sea salt is seasoning enough. These places are out there, but in the case that you’re in a country where not a lot of people eat like this, be ready to pay.

Another tip for Mike- try traveling to European countries. Many of the staple meals in many European countries is “meat and potatoes”. In Germany you’d be in heaven-meat (and lots of it, but usually pork roast) and potatoes are the norm. Do you eat bread and cheese? There is ALWAYS bread around and ALWAYS cheese (totally mild to super stinky, fussy artisan stuff). You can always make/buy sandwiches. Eggs, milk, potatoes, tinned corn, tinned tomatoes, etc.-most of the food basics you eat now are all over Europe. Some of the convenience food is as well (not that I buy it, or think you should either, but I am just saying).

On the other hand, don’t get me wrong, while I think your question is a valid and honest one-I would also say that living abroad/traveling may open you up to some new and positive food experiences. I hated hated hated brussel sprouts before I moved to Germany because I’d only had the overcooked, boiled ones before. Then a friend oven roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and crumbled bacon on top-OMG. . .heaven. I eat brussel sprouts like this ca 3 x a month in winter.

So, yes I can see where Mike is coming from and yes there are options for you out there. However, I think one should also be open to new experiences and traveling is a great way to do that.

Reply

Bee June 22, 2010 at 2:34 PM

I’m a new fan to your site, and a BIG fan of your site! You all are making it happen! I am a huge fan of house sitting. I started in HS in summers house sitting for folks while they travelled. An now its something I do for zero rent and sometimes I get paid! It still boggles my mind, and I look forward to doing house sitting overseas. Two sites for you…. I highly recommend are http://www.caretaker.org. You have to subscribe to get the Caretaker Gazette. I only get the online version ($30 =1 yr, $50 = 2 yrs). In addition to the large Gazette posting, I also get nearly weekly updates with new postings. As it is house sitting, Woofing and caretaker services (like being a couple who help run the B&B or handyman/butler/housekeeping career listings) there are plenty of options. Some require couples, others require a skill set. But the places are astounding! The listings, because its a membership fee, are more detailed and specific than other sites. People tell you who and what they are looking for as well as other details. For that alone its worth the investment! And even when I’m house sitting, checking my email to see other job offers and house sitting gigs keeps me optimistic about possibilities on the horizon when the time comes. It does include some International Listings, but its a rich resource for USA listings.

The second is http://www.housecarers.com. The fee is slightly higher, $45 for 1 year. And instead of getting a newsletter, your fee covers “house sitter advertising” where you can list yourself so others can search you out as well as gives you the all-important access to the homeowners when they post their needs. Some durations are a weekend (fun if you are already in that area) and some are months at a time, even house sitting for the duration of a soldier’s deployment or a professor’s sabattical type situation. Very often there are pets involved. This site has more international listings than Caretaker, but all listings have less detail than Caretaker, which leaves you in charge of asking more questions up front. Also, this site is free for homeowners to post their listing. Only housecarers/ housesitters pay a fee.

I rarely see overlap of postings. Each homeowner seeks out the site they are most comfortable with.

Reply

Bee June 22, 2010 at 2:52 PM

A third option is kind of hush hush, but for people here in the states I also recommend tapping into your network and befriending a few trustworthy real-estate agents. There are some sweet properties on the market, properties whose owners would really appreciate having someone there to keep it Show Quality for when buyers look at the place. But the economic market as it is, some of those owners have already moved on to their new jobs in new places. They are uncomfortable with leaving the house empty with the big realtor lock on the front and the for sale sign in the yard. What this means is, people who are serious about house sitting and building a house sitting resume, are often times agreeable people to the Realtors and the Homeowners. Some are in residential areas, normal houses on a normal street, others are McMansions on acreage. Only the realtor knows about them. And you and your readers should know that lots of realtors are NOT approachable about this. But some are!
They may require you to have a business entity as a house sitter. All will conduct background checks.
But if you want a low-rent/no-rent situation, find a realtor you can have a heart to heart with. You want to keep homes safe, clean, mowed and presentable for sale. You have an asset they need — you are mobile and willing. You work out with the realtor/homeowner all the details. That often includes discussions about water/gas/garbage/electric/www bills. Paying those small bills vs the $$$ one might pay in rent if you owned it? Priceless. You also may have to be amenable to being out of the home during showings, but for some of us digital nomads, that’s a perk. We have to leave the house and go visit the library or the local museums or whatever. Some situations like this can last for months — until the house sells.
The realtor will know which families may be approachable about these kind of behind-closed-doors arrangements. But know they are out there. There is no website. There is no manual. But just as realtors contract people to mow the yards for security, some realtors are willing to have caretakers live there to keep the property maintained, clean and most of all safe because its lived in. But the primary thing here is relationships. You need a personal relationship with a realtor to make this happen. And from there, they can reference you to other homes or if you want to see other parts of the country, they have a realtor colleague network that they’d be glad to share you with if you’re reputable, reliable and responsible.

Its helping me pay off my debts faster! And I am loving that I get to live in homes I would never have been able to even look at as a singleton. Its such an intimate thing living in someone else’s house while they are trying to sell it. People wanting to do this need to know and respect homeowners/realtors are very sensitive people and all the details are very important to them, so they need to be very important to you. This is not for everyone. And like I said, often they want you to do this as a business entity for their protection and yours. Some will even ask you to be bonded for this kind of work. But if this is a way of helping others, allows you to live in new places and helps you pay off your debt faster because of the low rent/no rent then its a Go!
Just wanted to let you know! Its been a grand adventure for me! But shhhhhh! This is not mainstream advice. Its risky. Plenty of realtors get ugly like agitated porcupines if approached cold. If they don’t know you, or don’t know someone you know, its not worth asking. Find the right realtor who thinks out of the box and works with clients and families that may be eager for your services, and everyone wins.

Sheesh, after writing these two posts I think I have the start of an ebook!
Thanks for your blog Baker! All my best to your family on this First Day of Summer!

Reply

Emily June 23, 2010 at 8:10 PM

this is really interesting to me as i’m a broke 20 year old. can anyone give me cheap european railways and airlines? i’m studying abroad in prague for the fall semester and that means i’ll be in central Europe for about 4 months, and i want to make the most of it. any help is helpful and extremely appreciated! thanks!!!

Reply

Susan Coombs June 26, 2010 at 10:28 PM

Hey guys – great site, love the information.

We have travelled around the US on not very much money. We saved our cash for ‘special treats’ and looked forward to having luxury accommodation or a massage, whatever.

The American meals are so big we always bought one meal between two of us, this really cut down costs. If we paid for accommodation we tried to get somewhere with breakfast included or somewhere we could cook something cheap. It actually becomes fun saving money wherever you can.

A real ‘find’ was a house sitting position in a Condo at Palm Springs. A friend of mine said this position was going and would we be interested for a week or two!! It was true luxury for us. We attended to all chores in the house, passed on phone calls, kept the garden tidy and the pool/spa clean.

We love it so much when we got back home we started our own House Sitting Site House sitting and house swap

We have also house sat in a couple of places here and New Zealand and our holidays are always affordable. Plus you meet the most interesting people.

If you are in Australia and need accommodation, please email us and quote this site!

Good luck.

Reply

Jill June 29, 2010 at 9:00 AM

I haven’t read all the comments – but I would add two thoughts. House swap! If you *do* have a house back home, there are a number of websites that allow you to swap your house for another one – the one our friends have been happy using is http://www.homeexchange.com/
This is especially great if you live in an attractive destination, as you’ll have lots of people wanting to swap! Personally I like to just surf the site and see all the places we could go…

The other thing that I would mention, which may or may not save money but definitely enhances your experience in a city is to check out the supperclub scene! All across the US but also in Paris, London, Hong Kong, people are hosting home dinners for paying guests. If you offered to serve or clean up you’d almost certainly get part or all of the meal for free. And you get to meet lots of local foodies, if that’s your thing. http://www.saltshaker.net/underground-dining-scene has a list, by city of underground restaurants, secret suppers, pop ups and supperclubs.

Reply

Frank August 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Speaking of traveling, just recently stayed in Va Beach and the Hotel never charged me for my 3 night stay.. Anyone know how many days Hotels have to place a charge on a credit card?/

Reply

Brian Nelson July 5, 2010 at 10:20 AM

2 more suggestions for cheap accomodations. Don’t forget family. It pays to research your geneology for distant relations in foreign countries. It is becoming easier to contact people many generations removed who are keen to meet you, feed you, entertain you and put you up for a few nights when traveling through their country through geneology web sites. A little research can go a long way. The return favour to them when coming through your place often builds new connections you can use later.
Join a service club with international connections. Besides the friends you make and the value of community service, there are many opportunities for exchange programs, billeting opportunities, international meetings with reduced or free accomodations.
We had one holiday in Europe for 4 weeks where we actually made $2,000 – stayed with relatives who lent us cars, ate mostly for free, went on vacations with various relatives to places they had booked, stayed with Rotary members who we had met on previous exchanges who also drove us to our next stop. They are usually anxious to show you the best sites and most interesting places around. Sometimes it gets a little weird sitting in somebodies front room all day looking at old photo albums but usually it is fabulous. We also got a cash settlement when we were bumped from our flight (pretty rare nowadays but we have often get free tickets or travel vouchers) The relatives usually don’t mind putting you up an extra day or two.

Reply

Steven Williams September 11, 2010 at 2:46 AM

Dude. I think this post just changed my life. I’m about to go test your method on a plane ticket to Paris… (I’m the guy with the fiancee in Paris who’s trying to win a copy of Chris’s book). Thank you, sir. You have a new subscriber.

Reply

Steven Williams September 11, 2010 at 2:50 AM

Oh, and my stage of travelhacking is as follows: Last month, I joined Couchsurfers and hosted my first two guests. I was unsuccessful in finding a host to go to Miami last weekend to see my baby off to gay Paris, but found good deals naming my own price on Priceline (though not as good as I would have liked, nor as good as the methods you list seem to be – even if the lack of William Shatner may decrease their overall value…)

Thanks for writing stuff that makes an impact. I hope my own writing can be this useful.

Reply

dave W. September 17, 2010 at 5:13 PM

do you have any tips for multiple city trips?

Reply

John September 23, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Lots of great tips as I must admit being a regular priceline user. Checked out couchsurfing and can’t believe that they have a 99.79% positive experience. Never heard of anything where users report such a high positive feedback.

Anyone here ever had a negative experience with the site?

Reply

NZ Tours October 11, 2010 at 1:02 AM

Thanks for the tips! Great site you have!

Reply

Chelsea January 9, 2011 at 10:10 PM

I’m traveling in a few months, so this has been very helpful. I’m going on road trip in USA for 2-3 months, and I’m tossing up on whether to buy a car or hire, can anyone give me some pro/cons on this? And any leads on good rental places would be great.

Reply

Bee January 10, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Chelsea — You must be 25 to rent a car in the USA. Renting a car if you are under 25 is only a hassle. Just putting that out there first.

Second — Car rental places often have “Longer than a Month” specials for longer term rentals, around $600/month for a compact car and SUV/Minivan is $1000. And then there are fees on top of that of course. So 2 months compact = around $1440 and 2 mos SUV = around $2400.
Enterprise rental car is great for long term car rentals in my experience.
Avis rental car is good for long term car rentals, a wee higher than Enterprise. 6o days for a compact is like $1760 and for a minivan or SUV its closer to $3660 (plus fees and such). If you are camping figure in that yes, you can carry a small tent, small cooler and small sleeping bags in a compact car.
But $2000 for 2-3 months in a compact car that has great gas mileage, and someone else covers all parts, repairs and has 24-7 roadside assistance if needed is reasonable. Yes, you can buy a car for that much, but you need to weigh tax, title, license, and covering all maintenance fees vs a long term rental. And then at the end of 3 months you have to sell it again. Unless you want car ownership, I’d look into long term rental costs. Be sure to call a rental office instead of relying on website info. Talking to a real person is better! And you can then ask about all fees that go into long term (2-3 mo) rental. Some places have extra fees for covering extra states. Some places have unlimited miles, some charge extra if you drive past xyz miles. Also ask Reps where to find rental discount coupons (sometimes its on FB, sometimes it is subscribing to a newsletter, sometimes its a website). Good luck on your road trip adventure!

Reply

Regina Marie February 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM

I’m starting to work my way through all the great info you have here. I’ve decided 2011 is the “first year of the rest of my life”… and I know I’m needing to start my traveling, otherwise I’m really going to look back and regret it! I’m just in the beginning of travel hacking, and really excited about it. I’m thinking of doing New Orleans and Peru this year. (Trying to convince my hubby that we should have the kids stay with their grandma and we should do a “seat of our pants” month long trip to Peru!!

Reply

Kim July 18, 2011 at 1:47 AM

Great site. I was in New Zealand in 1995 after being in Antarctica working and had a wonderful experience with WWOOF. I traveled for over two months with my then boyfriend . We stayed with about 15 different families. I bought a car in Christchurch and sold it in Auckland for more than I paid for it. It was great to have our own transportation so we were able to go to new homes without making them go out of their way to pick us up. We did everything from planting trees, hearding sheep, milking cows, weeding (lots of weeding), cooking for the family, and other misc. chores. It was great to really see how the families lived. I would recommend it highly.

Reply

Ron August 10, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Great tips for saving money, I have used some of your tips when travelling to the US. But I live in Canada and we do not have the same variety as you. In fact I have driven to Buffalo from Toronto just to avoid the airport tax which $345.00 per person on a package trip.

We have a limited number of airports and carriers which limits the price competition, so try and avoid the Toronto airport if you can.

Reply

sophie August 30, 2011 at 4:09 PM

This is a great article! I didn’t know sites like crowdsurfing even existed. I would be skeptical about it, but it seems like it worked out great for you and your family. Plus, it would be very interesting to see how other people live around the world.

Reply

leanardo December 15, 2011 at 11:56 AM

As someone who WANTS to do some traveling, these are great tips.

Being stationed in Germany, I have used the rail system and I really enjoy it. A little longer than a car takes, cheaper then gas and WAY cheaper then airfare. Though, I have noticed a few smaller airlines that do offer great flight prices (23 euro from Munich to Dublin for example…and that was on St. Patrick’s Day weekend).

Definitely going to store this post for future reference

Thanks again for a great post.

Reply

Brooke January 14, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Wouldn’t it just be easier to pay a travel agent $30 to do all that sh*t for you?

Reply

Ron April 25, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I found the bumps to be the best give away out there. I have found that if you have a connector fight at a central hub, you have a higher chance of being bumped. Take the bump and get a free flight, that is what I do.

Reply

JRinAsia November 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Great blog post! So many of my friends can’t believe how little I spend to finance my travels. I have been gone from home for almost 3 years now.

Reply

MattTSV April 30, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Hey is that banner at the top of your page from Magnetic Island? Looks familiar? I live in Townsville and was intrigued by the “last 15 minutes of your Bus journey” what happened!?

Great site, thanks for the work you put into it.

Reply

Daniel May 9, 2013 at 12:24 AM

Very good tips here… In a quite meaty article. Allthough I like to focus on making more money than trying to savind the life out of me..

Reply

Jaryd October 11, 2013 at 6:47 AM

One of the richest posts for information ever! You killed it, well done too. I am going to have to pull my finger and start putting more of these tips into practice. Cheers

Reply

Narayanan Hariharan March 24, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Thanks for the tips! All of them valuable!

BTW, Tripeedo is no more?

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 38 trackbacks }