STEP ONE: Stop Overspending
Hi, I’m Tal Gur. Thank you for your interest in my work. As you well know, traveling can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As you are about to reveal, there are plenty of strategies and actions you can take to keep costs down. Click on the gray boxes below to find out.
1. Save on your flights
For most people, the flight is the major “barrier” when it comes to pulling the trigger on booking their trip. There seems to be this notion that flying is always expensive, but the truth is that you can score great deals on flights with the right timing and strategies.
When it comes to airfare, prices can quickly change with time and destination, so learning how to navigate the ins and outs of the flight industry is an imperative skill to have for the freedom-based lifestyle entrepreneur.
Following are a few of the ways by which you can save on your airfares.
1. Shop around – As you already know, airfares for similar flights can vary dramatically from airline to airline. Sites like Expedia.com, Dohop.com, Hipmunk.com, Travelocity.com, Kayak.com, FareCompare.com, or Adioso.com (my favorite for its intuitive interface) allow you to compare offers from multiple airlines at once. That being said, don’t rule out booking directly through the airline companies themselves, who might offer exclusive deals. Other sites like Skyscanner.com are great for scoring cheap flights within regions like Europe or Asia, on low-cost airline carriers.
2. Set up flight alerts – If you fly any regular route, Travelzoo.com, Cheapair.com, and other travel booking sites can generate custom flight email alerts. You enter the details of your trip, and they’ll alert you whenever they find a deal matching your criteria. This saves you from having to constantly be checking back to see if your itinerary price has gone down.
3. Be flexible with your airport – The nearest airport to your origin/destination may not always have the cheapest flights, so be sure to check nearby airports for lower airfares. You can use Skyscanner.com to see how much it costs to fly to various airports by entering a country’s name instead of a specific city as your destination point (it will list the cheapest flights from your local airport in price order). Also, if your final travel destination isn’t a major hub, check fares to the hub first and then look for an extra flight from the hub to your final destination. (Every airline has a “hub” where the majority of its flights arrive/depart. This means potentially cheaper fares because there are more flights to choose from.)
4. Be flexible with your dates – Flexibility is key to finding inexpensive airfare, as flight prices vary considerably depending on the season, month, day, and even hour of travel. Search tools such as Skyscanner.com, kayak.com/explore/, and google.com/flights allow you to compare flight prices across a whole month (they also allow you to browse the cheapest fares to multiple world destinations, which gives you more flexibility); however, don’t automatically count on these tools. Instead, conduct individual searches for different days, especially Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, which are more likely to offer lower rates on airfare. It takes a bit more time to search this way, but is worth it in the end to save potentially hundreds of dollars on your flight.
5. Know when to buy – Timing can be everything when it comes to finding flight deals. The worst time to book your trip is usually the last minute when few seats remain available. This does not mean that you can’t score a cheap airfare at the last minute, but more often than not, it’s better to book your trip a little bit in advance. Data shows that “sweet spot,” so to speak, is around 30 to 90 days before your planned trip; this is usually when prices are at their lowest. Also, I haven’t personally seen it work, but many travel experts say that it best to search for cheap airfares in the middle of the week, as some airlines update their databases on Tuesday or Wednesday. The other recommendation is to avoid shopping for flights on the weekends.
6. Two one-way flights vs. round trip – Round trips are not always cheaper anymore, so check each leg of your trip separately. Your options are completely open and you can mix and match different airlines. You don’t even have to arrive/depart from the same airport. On the other hand, if your trip is a one-way departure, check the round-trip fares–sometimes they are actually less expensive.
7. Research fees – Expedia, Kayak and most of the other big travel sites show you all taxes and fees upfront; sometimes, however, there are several airline charges that are not reflected in the initial price you see. Perhaps the most common one is the baggage fee. Always check baggage policies, both carry-on and checked, before you fly, as it can save you some money and disappointment.
8. Shop for one seat – If you’re traveling with a partner or a group, search for one person first and see if there is a price difference when you search for a group. If the price comes out lower, consider buying your tickets separately.
9. Clear your web browsing history – Some travel booking sites record your web browsing data and use this information to raise prices the next time you visit their site. By clearing your browser’s cache (also known as ‘temporary internet files’) and restarting your browser, you may see lower prices for the same search.
10. Don’t focus only on price – Choosing non-stop over connecting flights, for example, will save you time (and often sanity), which can be translated into money. Check out RouteHappy.com for its “flight-happiness” rating system. You can sort routes by ease of transit (number of connections, roomier seats, entertainment, etc.) rather than focusing strictly on price.
2. Save on your accommodation
Often, the cost of accommodation is the most expensive part of a trip, so learning how to plan it properly is key.
But while many travelers have the notion that they need to budget $50 or more per night for accommodation, it is quite easy to sleep for far less, or even for free if you plan things out right.
Following are a few of the ways by which you can reduce your travel expenses when it comes to accommodation.
1. Comparison sites – If it’s hostels you’re after, sites like Trivago.com allow you to compare hotel deals around the world from more than 200 booking sites. If you’re looking for something in the very near future, check out Lastminute.com or Wotif.com for decent deals. Finally, check out online travel brokers such as Expedia.com and eBookers.com because they sometimes have special discounts on specific hotels.
2. Hotel sites – Hotels often have deals on their own websites so it’s worth spending the extra minute to check them out as well. Hotel sites may offer, for example, special promotions or 3-night deals that comparison sites don’t. Just bear in mind that some sites hide the true cost until the final booking page, so take this into consideration when booking a visit. Also, you might want to pick up the phone and call the hotel directly to see if there are any forthcoming promotions that are not listed on their site. Don’t hesitate to ask for a better deal!
3. Review sites – When you have a few good options on your shortlist, check out review sites like TripAdvisor.com to see if you’d be happy to stay at any of them. They list detailed reviews, ratings, and pictures taken by previous guests. Just don’t take everything at face value; check the context in which they were written and how biased the reviewers seem. Also, don’t fully trust the star system. More often than not, it’s based on amenities, not quality.
4. Hostels and B&B sites – Bed and Breakfast places are often cheaper and friendlier than comparable hotels. Plus, you usually get a breakfast thrown in. Directory sites like bedandbreakfast.com often offer worthwhile promos, so check them out. Hostels are especially great for solo travellers and those who want a more social environment for a relatively cheap price. If that’s the case for you, check out Hostelworld.com, which has the biggest selection of hostels on the internet. You might also be able to find B&B and apartments in their database.
5. Apartments and vacation rentals – If you plan to stay in one place for a week or longer, renting an apartment or a house might save you substantially. Sites like homeaway.com and vrbo.com feature millions of properties worldwide. Once you’ve found a rental, try contacting the owner directly to see if they are willing to drop the price. You never know if you don’t ask, right?
6. House swapping – If you live in a relatively desirable area and are willing to let others stay in your house, a home swap can be a huge money-saving opportunity. Only use reputable sites such as HomeExchange.com and LoveHomeSwap.com.
7. Home sharing and room rentals – One of my favorites! Home sharing sites like Airbnb.com offer the opportunity to rent out private rooms or entire homes (as well as castles, tree houses, private islands and even igloos) for prices that are relatively cheaper than hotels. It’s also a great way to meet locals. Currently, Airbnb.com is the largest home sharing site, with rentals in more than 190 countries, but other room rental sites started sprouting up recently, including Roomorama.com, 9flats.com, wimdu.com, and morningcroissant.com . It’s worth exploring a few of these sites, as sometimes prices vary for the same room.
8. House sitting – If you want to enjoy the comfort of having a home away from home for free, house sitting might be your smartest choice. Sites like Mindmyhouse.com and Trustedhousesitters.com have listings from homeowners looking for someone to house sit their home (and often their pets) while they are away. Craigslist.org is another option.
9. Couchsurfing – Meet locals and stay for free on a couch, or better yet, a spare bed. Above all, Couchsurfing provides a great way to get to know people and places on a deeper level. On the downside, staying with hosts you don’t know can be a lottery. Either way, it’s bound to be a memorable experience, and one that can save you a lot of cash while you’re at it. Before applying for a couch at Couchsurfing.org, find out as much info as possible about the host and check his or her reviews. Oftentimes, you’ll end up staying with a local that will be glad to show you around town to all their favorite local spots.
10. Camping – If you love the great outdoors and want to experience nature on the cheap, camping can be a good option. If you are traveling in the US, check out Reserveamerica.com and Koa.com, which both have an extensive selection of campground sites.
11. Volunteer and work for accommodation – You can receive accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours of work a day, mostly on farms. The biggest sites in this space are WWOOF.org (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and HelpX.net. Doing volunteer work and workshare is also a great way to expand your travel experience, give back, and connect with people and opportunities you might not otherwise get a chance to.
3. Save on living expenses
Over years of traveling, I’ve mastered many money-saving hacks that have helped me save thousands of dollars over the course of my travels. As there are quite a few of them, I gathered the top ones into a 21-Day Money-Saving Challenge.
* Click the Arrows to open each option.
STEP TWO: Experience More
4. Developing a Traveler’s Mindset
The independent traveler’s lifestyle is a unique and adventurous way of being, and there are many ways that you can get the most out of life on the road.
You see, independent traveling is not a vacation activity. Instead, it’s an opportunity to experience new areas and environments outside of your comfort zone and re-evaluate your assumptions about the world. It broadens your perspective and shows you aspects of yourself and your world that you may have previously overlooked.
You can look at traveling as a profoundly soul-enriching experience, an ongoing process of growth and self-expression. The wealth of time you spend and the richness of places you visit can provide you with a unique opportunity to look deeper and gain broader insights into traveling in particular and life in general.
Put differently, it’s one thing to travel; it’s another thing entirely to start thinking and living like a long-term, conscious traveler. The best way to develop this mindset? Getting out on the road. You’re already halfway there just by making the decision to get outside your comfort zone and exploring the world.
The following tips will help you to put yourself in a traveling mindset (one which is also useful in everyday life):
1. Travel slowly and allow enough time in one place instead of rushing around, trying to visit as many sites and countries as possible. The number of stamps on your passport in a hurried trip is less valuable than the slow, immersive experience of one single place. Plan for days where you will just explore without an agenda or schedule, wandering where you feel called to go. These are the times you’ll fully immerse in the local culture and vibe, using your intuition to guide your way. As an independent traveler, your goals are not to check the mainstream sites off your list, but to collect transformative experiences that shift your way of being in the world, and slow travel is a key tool to make this happen.
2. Be more present and avoid being connected to the internet 24/7. While being connected – and especially in a foreign country — has its benefits, the downside side is that we’re not fully engaged in where we are and in what we’re doing. Spend at least one day per week fully disengaged from technology. This has the added benefit of forcing you to use your intuition rather than technology to be guided around the area. You won’t believe how much more you’ll notice and pick up when your focus is on your surroundings and not on a screen! You’ll also be far more likely to meet local people when you have to stop and ask for directions!
3. Incorporate simplicity and see the beauty in the small things around you. An independent long-term trip by its very nature demands simplicity. You carry your whole world in a backpack and get to meet locals who never had the privilege of consuming so much. Approach each destination with humility and an open mind, ready to soak in the fullness of each experience and interaction.
4. Embrace the unknown and lead a more adventurous lifestyle. Remember, the more we know about a place, the less adventure we experience. Adventure is not necessarily the physical activity itself, but rather the unfamiliarity component of it. It can simply be not knowing where you’re going, or who you’re going to meet, or what you’re going to experience next. Approaching each experience with an adventurous mindset means embracing uncertainty and consciously breaking free of your comfort zone. You can find adventure in even the simplest of activities, like connecting with a local and learning about their story, or offering to help out a fellow traveler with an issue they’re having. The key to having an adventurous experience is making sure that you push yourself to constantly keep growing and learning.
5. Becoming a Minimalist. Many conscious travelers practice minimalism; that is, the practice of living with the most minimal physical items as possible. This practice not only helps you travel more lightly and flexibly, but it helps you clear your mind space and live more lightly in all areas. Packing lightly and carefully choosing which items to bring with you are very important parts of developing a minimalist mindset. Here are some tips for conscious and light packing:
- Research your destination – Careful research and planning will help you determine the very essential items you’re going to need on your trip. Look at factors such as the weather in the places you’ll be traveling, the activities you might be doing, the duration of your trip, and any other factors that apply. Look into any cultural customs that might require a particular form of dress – for example, in Southeast Asia, women will often need to bring a sarong or scarf to cover shoulders in temples. If you’ll be away from home for a while, bring clothes to cover multiple seasons.
- Mix and match clothes to save space – Pack clothing items that you can mix and match. This will lessen the baggage you need to bring and you’ll be able to dress differently each day, if that’s an issue for you. Just wash your clothes (or have them washed) as soon as you finish wearing them so you can use them again. Remember that you’re not traveling to impress people with your fashion sense; you’re traveling to gain experiences and show people who you are through your personality, not through your wardrobe or physical possessions.
- Figure out the things you can leave at home. For example, you don’t need to force toiletries into your suitcase. That space can be filled with something more important instead. Unless your brand of shampoo or conditioner can only be bought in your country, forego these as these are available anywhere. Don’t stress too much about remembering each and every thing, because chances are high that you can buy anything you need at your destination.
5. Get Over Your Fears of Traveling
Travelling is not just about going from one place to another. It is not about taking selfies to post on your Facebook. It’s not about taking scenery shots to post on Instagram. Travelling is a whole lot more than just following the trend – and this is the mindset that true travelers develop over time.
Traveling is about the sunrises and sunsets that you get to see from another point of view. It’s about the other walks of life that you get to experience, the moments immersed in a local culture that you would never get to experience otherwise. It’s about the laughter shared across language barriers, new friends from the other side of the world, exotic new meals and trails blazed.
Travelling is walking side by side with history and culture. Traveling is about the journey, not the destination.
It’s normal to have some apprehension about traveling before you leave home. After all, this is one of the biggest comfort zone challenges you may ever face.
For those who are afraid to try travelling, you might want to consider these tips to help you get started:
1. Understand that it is normal to be afraid. The unknown can be scary. In fact, if it isn’t, you probably aren’t facing a big enough challenge! Even frequent travelers get the jitters, too! This is a normal human reaction but it should not impede you from finally going to that destination you’ve been dreaming about. Accept that you’ll probably feel this and that by itself can elevate the fear.
2. Be prepared – Research, research, research. Perform adequate research and search for tips and warnings. This way, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge of your new environment. Also join Facebook groups and ask questions. Joining communities beforehand and having a dialogue with locals and other travelers will give you a feeling of support before you leave home.
3. Travel with a friend. If you feel too nervous to head out alone on your first big trip, don’t hesitate to recruit a travel buddy for this adventure. Traveling solo definitely has its benefits, but experiencing this journey with a friend is also massively bonding, and a great support for first-time travelers. One thing is for sure: your relationship will never be the same! Once you’ve traveled the world with someone, you will have bonded in an unexplainable way. When choosing your travel partner, you might not want to just default to asking your best friend to join for the ride. Consider someone who has complementary personality characteristics to your own, and who will fill in some of your own gaps and blind spots. For example, if you tend to be a bit scattered and spontaneous, you may want to travel with someone who is quite structured, logical, and clear headed. You will benefit from their structure, and they will benefit from your more free-flowing approach.
Now, while traveling alone is perfectly safe when you use your head properly, it’s still very important to take precautions and be extra mindful to make sure you stay safe on the road. Safety is the number one concern for people who are afraid to travel alone. But as long as you keep the following things at the front of your mind, you can go forth and plan your solo journey with confidence. Here are few quick tips:
- Book reliable accommodations. Especially if you’re new to solo travel, this isn’t the time to get experimental with sketchy budget hostels or questionable Couchsurfing hosts. While you’re learning the ropes, spend a little bit of extra money to book a place that has 24-hour front desk service and plenty of good reviews. Once you’re used to getting around on your own, you can start booking AirBnb and even Couchsurfing if you feel comfortable. But these types of accommodation may have less reliable response in case you get lost on arrival or another situation comes up. Play on the safe side when starting out and book a reliable room to get your feet wet with solo travel.
- Be prepared. When traveling alone, do some research beforehand to find out the estimated cost for a cab from the airport to your hostel. Cab drivers will often try to rip off unsuspecting solo travelers, so you’ll want to have an idea of what the fare should be. Check out your maps before heading out for the day, as solo travelers with their head stuck in a map can be a target for pickpockets. You’ll want to have a general idea of what you’re doing and your whereabouts when you’re on your own, so you can walk purposefully and confidently, rather than looking like you’re lost.
- Be in touch. Just because you’re traveling alone, doesn’t mean you should fall off the map completely. Stay in touch with friends and family at home, letting them know where you’ll be. Send them a copy of your itinerary and check in after you get to each destination. It’s better to be safe than sorry, knowing that people will have your whereabouts in mind.
- Blend in. Do your best to blend into the crowd and not look like a tourist. This means avoiding wearing any sorts of souvenir T-shirts, carrying a big camera around your neck, and walking around with your face inside a guidebook. If you wear a purse or backpack, carry it on your front and under your arms when walking in a crowd. Don’t fumble around with your wallet in public places, especially on public transportation like buses or trains.
- Stay in lit and public places. This especially goes for women travelers, who are especially vulnerable when walking alone at night in shady or unlit places. Be smart, and stick to the beaten path when you’re on your own at night. Be aware of any areas that feel sketchy, and simply avoid them. There’s no purpose in risking your belongings or your well-being to explore a place that feels “adventurous” when it’s dark and you’re alone.
6. Elevate Your Travel Experience
Staying healthy on the road: As you already know, a big part of the nomadic lifestyle is learning how to adapt your “normal” life to the road and to another country. This means being flexible and able to create a set of healthy habits that will keep you at your peak wherever you are – whether that’s in an airport, on a train, or moving into a new apartment in a foreign country. I wrote about it here.
Travel Tools for Nomads: Picking a travel destination, planning unforgettable experiences, figuring out where to eat, researching things to do, etc all require considerable time and effort. Luckily, there are some handy travel apps, sites, and online tools that make planning travel more efficient and fun. Check out my top recommendations here.
Professional Tool for Nomads: Running your life on the road, staying productive while you travel, keeping in touch with family and friends, and ensuring your privacy and your data are safe and secure, all require a ton of time and effort to manage. I spent the time and found some of the best apps, sites and online tools to take the guesswork out of running your business and life remotely. Check out my top recommendations here.
Connecting with your tribe: As you already know, connecting with like-minded people is one of the keys to create a more fulfilling experience. However, life as a nomad can be lonely at times, especially if you are a solo traveler. Luckily, with the help of technology it’s easy find social events, make new friends, and grow a social circle while travelling.
Here are key ways to connect and grow your social circle on the road:
#1. First, I believe you have everything you need to get started right within your own friends groups. Go to your Facebook page, type ‘My friends who live in [NAME_OF_CITY]’, and see if one of your friends is living or currently visiting the city you plan to travel in. Often times, simply publishing a Facebook status that tags your location is enough to get responses from friends who live in that location or know people who do.
#2. Next, check out popular travel and expat blogs for the city you plan to travel in. Besides the tips and pointers, you could also learn about upcoming social events and fun activities. Additionally, there are quite a few quality online travel forums where members of similar interests discuss topics and get notified about group activities. Online forums are usually great for Q&A and general discussions but less so for relationship building. In order to grow your social circle and build connections, you’ll probably want to join private communities where group members communicate, collaborate, and connect more closely with each other. To do so, simply go to Google and search for fitting subgroups within the travel community (e.g. “digital nomads”, “internet entrepreneurs”, “expats”, etc).
#3. Another option is Facebook groups, which is much like you would experience in other online forums, only that these days, most people prefer Facebook due to the fact they’re already using it regularly. In Facebook, type the name of the city you’re in or planning to travel to + different variations of possible group names such as “Living in [CITY]”, “Expats in [CITY]”, “Entrepreneurs in [CITY”], Americans in [CITY”], etc. Also, when you find a group, look for additional suggested groups on the right side of screen – it will provide you with more options. Needless to say, once you join, contribute regularly. Don’t be shy to ask questions or comment on other people’s posts. You’ll probably find other travelers who are looking for connections in the city, and you can message them directly.
#4. Also, you can check out social events sites and apps such as Meetup and the Facebook Local app (available on Google Play and iOS). Depending on how big is the city you’re in, there will be a number of events, meetings, language exchanges, and get-togethers of all kinds. Also, if you’re single, there’s always the online dating world to expand your social base. Don’t be afraid to try dating apps as a way to meet new people and get connected with the local social scene.
#5. Now, there are other ways, of course, but in my opinion one the best ways to do this is through attending conferences – It’s not only an effective way to stay up to date with the latest trends, but also a great way to meet new people. Based on my experience and and other nomads feedback, I’ve assembled a handy list of my top 10 digital nomad conferences around the world. Check it out here. Whether you’re a digital nomad, freelancer, remote worker, entrepreneur or someone who is wondering how to make a living while traveling, this list will help you connect with your tribe so can learn and build new relationships both professionally and personally.
STEP THREE: Travel Forever (The Ultimate Travel Hack)
Imagine waking up every morning knowing that you are free to travel and live anywhere in the world while earning income at the same time. Seems unrealistic? It doesn’t have to be. Click the link below to find out more.