Dorasan Station, South Korea (2011)
I get quite a few questions about how I am able to travel so much and where I find great travel deals. I am in no way a travel expert and each day I am learning new things and finding out how to get the best bang for my buck. I often have to do a lot of research on my own to find the best deals in addition to reading A LOT of travel blogs/ travel websites. This post will address the questions I have received and will conclude with an updated list of travel products that I use when planning and booking travel.
JL: “Do you own a plane or something? If so, pick me up!”
I do not own a plane, but I wish I did; that and a private pilot all to myself. That would be wonderful! However, I do not own a plane, heck, I don’t even travel in first class. You will find me in coach however munching on pretzels and sipping on small glass of orange juice in a little plastic cup.
DP: ” How the heck do you go on all these trips?!?! What’s ur secret!!!???”
The simple answer is A LOT of research. Below I will list the websites that I use to do my research. I am warning you though, cheap prices don’t always come easily. Sometimes I spend 30-40 minutes trying to find the best deal and travel-hacking to find different ways to minimize my costs.
What I Do To Make Travel A Reality: Step-By-Step
- Spend more money on travel and less on material items: I used to spend a lot of money on clothes. I loved to always have something to wear in case something ‘came up’, but a lot of time things did not come up and I had a closet full of clothes I never wore. The even worse part was that even though I had more clothes than I could count, I always felt unfulfilled and like I never had enough. I started changing my spending patterns deciding that I would rather create memories than outfits. When I do buy clothing or material goods, I usually go online and look for coupons on Coupon Cabin. I always go through the portal EV Reward to find out where I will get the most rewards for my money.
- Plan FAR in advance: I plan as far in advance as I can. I sometimes book (plane) tickets 8-10 months in advance and end up saving myself quite a lot of money. I naturally happen to be a planner, so this comes quite easily to me, but I realize it is not something that everyone can/should do. Sometimes there are great deals to be found last-minute, but I personally worry about leaving it to chance.
- Earn Miles, Get Rewarded: Get a reward card for EVERY airplane you fly on. Miles can accumulate quickly and free tickets are in your future. Depending on the airline you choose, you can even transfer miles between airlines! You do not necessarily have to fly to earn free miles. Check out Frequent Flier Bonuses to find out different ways to earn miles.
- Research, Research, Research! There are great deals to be found outside of the common sites that people go to like Expedia or Orbitz. The sites that I use are listed below in the order that I use them:
- Matrix Airfare Search: This site requires some prior knowledge to understand. Tickets cannot be booked on this site, just researched. A lot of people use this site to do mileage runs.
- Vayama: an airfare aggregation website that I find has much better rates than a lot of it’s competitors.
- Google Flight Search: You can put in your starting location and the dates you want to travel and it will show you flights around the world.
- Tracking Services: Keeps the costs down and keeps me aware of balances when it is time to book reward tickets
- Blogs & Websites: I read a lot of blogs and a lot of travel websites. If I am going to a particular area, I generally look up country/city-specific information by local bloggers. The way I keep track of all the blogs I read is through a reader called Feedly. (BTW, you can follow me via Feedly too!)
- Pack Less: Avoid (ridiculous) airline baggage fees by packing less.
- Sleep Cheap: pay nothing or next to nothing around the world
- Couchsurfing: I have talked a little bit about CouchSurfing in a previous post. It is my absolutely favorite way to travel and save money. Whoever said you couldn’t get anything free in life has clearly never couch-surfed. Not only is the accommodation free, but if you get a good host, you can have a great experience that no money could ever buy.
- Hostel Bookers: If there are no CS options, I typically look on HB for a hostel/guesthouse to stay in. Always read reviews before booking. One thing I like about HB is that there are no booking fees.
- Hostel World: Hostel World has a small booking fee, but a huge selection of places to stay around the world. Once again, always read reviews before booking a room.
- AirBnB: Vacation rentals around the world. Used AirBnB when I went to Puerto Rico in 2012 and again when I traveled to London in 2013. I highly recommend this site for vacation rentals.
- Wimdu: Wimdu is similar to AiBnB, I used it when I stayed in Barcelona in 2013 and I had a great experience. I believe it has a lot more popularity in Europe than here in the States.
- Airport: Sounds a little degrading to some, but can work out quite well depending on where you are. I slept for a number of hours on a reclining leather chair in the Bangkok airport and woke up completely refreshed. I also slept in the Keflavik Airport in Iceland overnight. In the basement of the Seoul [Incheon] airport there is a spa you can sleep in overnight. The Sleeping in Airports guide has a lot of information on how and where to sleep in airports.
Do you have more questions? Feel free to leave a comment below! (*note: all affiliate links are disclosed in the post*)