Today’s trend is moving more and more from owning material items, things and places, and more towards experiences and travel. Most of us love to feel the thrill of getting on an airplane and heading to a new destination to have an adventure! This does not mean you have to continually break the bank to have these experiences, though; rather, you can travel the world on a budget, and truly earn the title “World Traveler.”
Get Your Priorities Straight
You have to decide what type of traveler you are. Do you want to go for adventure travel, see and explore exotic destinations and do adrenaline pumping things like going on safaris and paragliding off of super tall mountains? Are you a culture and history traveler who loves to go see new cultures, explore their history and enjoy the cuisine?
These are the types of questions you have to ask yourself, and ensure that you will be traveling to the right areas. For example, if you super dig heli-skiing, and are not so much for surfing, you might not want to plan that next trip to take you to Maui. Once that is set, you then have to figure out just how much time you have. In this article, we will assume that you can somehow, using vacations, etc., get three to four weeks (or more) off in a block. This is important, because the whole world travel thing doesn’t really work with small amounts of time.
Be Smart About Your Transport
Transport doesn’t always mean flying. Planes, trains, automobiles, ships and ferries, bicycles, heck even horse drawn carts are valid forms of transportation to get to where you want to go. One thing you absolutely should do, though, if you have the chance, is get addicted to travel hacking. This primarily involves using lucrative credit card deals to gain frequent flyer points. Use a few credit cards to pay for literally everything, and get the miles associated with them. You don’t have to change your spending habits, but you can earn, for example, up to 250,000 to 300,000 travel miles a year very easily. This normally involves spending a certain amount of money after opening a card to get a travel-miles bonus. We also suggest you spend your points wisely. One great site is OneWorld (www.oneworld.com) which allows you to book around-the-world flights.
Once you have your miles and are ready to go, plan your trip, and make sure you do it REALLY early. Most flights only have a certain number of award seats available, and flight bookings open up 330 days before takeoff. This means you will have to make that itinerary well in advance. Also, check out hotels and hostels in the region. You COULD spend your miles on hotels, or you could go for hostels. You also don’t have to fly out of the same airport you flew in to, so check out what could be in the region you could get to quickly, such as by bus, train or automobile.
Go places that you never thought you would go. Just about every country (that isn’t on a danger watch list) has awesome and exciting things for you to go see and do. You can eat and sleep well, and remember, some of the trappings of civilization we take for granted are unnecessary. For example, want to hit Australia? Why not go in late November or January? Because that is when you will be wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and it will be the same for the rest of the southern hemisphere. Flights out tend to be cheaper around those times, so a round-the-world trip south of the equator will be sunny AND cheaper.
Most of the flights are subject to changes in price depending on the date. If you can wait a week and save $500 on it, then do it. There will definitely be someplace you can go in the region to have fun, or spend a few extra days on the beach. Also, if you have the ability and don’t have a job to go back to, or you can work from anywhere with an internet connection, then the world is your oyster. The internet is filled with countless stories of how someone travelled for a year for less than 15 grand, or how people move country to country never worrying about having a permanent place to go. Traveling on the short term, though, you can save oodles of money by staying in hostels, couchsurfing, and making sure you eat in the restaurants locals eat at. Be ready to try new foods, and don’t hesitate to ask. Most people will be pleased to give you a recommendation.
Learn It Well
One thing to remember when you are on the ground, is that literally almost everyone respects and appreciates it when you try to learn at least a few words of the local language. This has saved us countless amounts of money at restaurants, museums, events, etc., when trying to use the 20 words we were able to learn before we landed someplace. People appreciate it, and will oftentimes give you a discount.
Also, some mistakes can cost you. For example, the waiter in Sofia, Bulgaria asks you if you would like to have a shrimp cocktail with your dinner. You shake your head no, and it shows up a few minutes later. It would have been seriously worth it for you to take a quick look at cultural mores of Bulgaria, as a headshake from home which means no actually means yes there, and vice versa.
Work for Your Travel
There are lots of sites online that allow you to make some money by working remotely. Places such as Odesk (www.odesk.com) and Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) can be great sources of income. Establish yourself on some of those sites early, and you can fund your daily living on the trip while you are there. For example, in Slovenia, you can get around and eat well for about 15 to 20 euro a day. One hour on a website may make you enough money to pay for that entire day, and perhaps have a bit left over for the next one.
If you have a job or something you can make money at, we then recommend that if it is something you can schedule, take a few of those miles you saved up and get yourself a decent hotel room with a desk. It will allow you to focus, get things done, and then keep the adventure going. Alternately, in just about every major city with an airport there are temporary offices that cater to travelers, which you can go right in and use for a small fee. Or just sit on a beach sipping a cocktail with your laptop on your knees. The choice is yours.
If you are really fit, you can also check out some places that pay travelers and students by the hour. One such site is Anywork Anywhere (www.anyworkanywhere.com). It caters to farm, fruit and packing jobs, if you schedule some of your flights to places where day jobs are available, you could actually end up coming home with more money than you spent!
Just Do It
There will never be a better time to start planning than now. The first stage is the planning and getting your miles, and then making sure you will have enough time to get out there and do it. The world is waiting, and you may be able to even come back with some more cash than you spent if you work it right. What are you waiting for? Fire up that keyboard and start the process today! We’d love it if you tell us where you’re inspired to go to next.