Last week we talked about the tools I use to keep my business up and running while I travel the world – if you missed that you can see it here – and this week I promised to fill you in on all of the stuff that helps me with the actual travel. I will include links to everything I mention below and, just like in the other video, some are affiliate links – meaning I will get paid if you buy after clicking that link – and some are not. I want to be clear though, everything I mention here is stuff I actually use and I’m just giving you affiliate links because it would be silly for me not to. I didn’t put anything on here just so I could use an affiliate link. That’s why a lot of the links are just regular links – I tell you what I really use, whether or not I can get paid for it.
First of all, I love to see new places and meet new people, that’s why I travel as much as I do, but the actual travel part of travel really sucks. It’s expensive and uncomfortable and is just something you have to tolerate so you can get to your amazing destination – with a few exceptions like a bus ride crossing the Andes between Chile and Argentina. It’s been my experience that getting to your destination is not only the least fun part of the trip, it’s also the most costly. So let’s start with some tips for how to get cheap travel.
Of course, the first option is to look at alternatives to flying like buses or trains. These are especially good options outside of the U.S. They can be insanely inexpensive and there may be something worth looking at out of the window. You can also consider cruising as an actual transportation option as opposed to as a pseudo-destination in and of itself. For example, I will be spending the summer in Europe and I am cruising over instead of flying. The cruise is approximately the same price as my one-way flight would have been, even though I am paying double for my cabin because I am going solo, and I will get to enjoy 10 days on the open ocean with all of my needs catered to and an endless amount of free food before swinging by Portugal and landing in Spain. Not only can cruising be fun and cost effective, but it also forces those of us who are technology addicts to disconnect because the internet and cell service are so slow and expensive onboard.
If you must fly, however, there are some tricks I use to get the best fares. It takes some work, but I usually find some pretty good deals. Firstly, do all of your searching in the incognito window. All of the travel sites track you so if you start searching around for a particular flight and perform the same search over and over, it’s going to affect what you see, even though it shouldn’t. I’ve literally done the same search side by side and seen different prices because on one computer I had been tracked and on the other it was a brand new search. If you’re in Chrome, you can open an incognito window by clicking Ctrl + Shift + N.
When I search for flights I always look at both CheapoAir (affiliate link) and Kayak (not an affiliate link) and sometimes Hipmunk (not an affiliate link) as well. Plus, I check out Superfly (not an affiliate link) and my credit card rewards. Superfly aggregates all of your frequent flyer mile programs so when you search for a flight it can show how best to utilize your rewards points. If I’m traveling short distances I also check out local discount airlines in the region. Just remember to be careful when comparing because the vast majority of the airlines now are nickel and diming you on luggage charges, so you want to make sure you’re actually comparing apples to apples when you look at the quoted fares on the different sites. These discount airlines can also come in handy if booking a flight that you know you can’t go direct anyway. You can often fly to a less expensive hub in Europe, for example, and then take a discount airline to your final destination. The combo price of the two separate tickets can often be considerably lower than booking it all together on one major carrier.
You should also do your best to be flexible about travel dates. Sometimes you just have to be somewhere on a certain date and there is nothing you can do, however, if possible, flying in the middle of the week and/or at off peak times of year will usually save you quite a bit on the fare and can result in a more comfortable ride as the flight won’t likely be overbooked.
Once you arrive, you can obviously go the route of typical hotels or hostels but I’m not a huge fan of either. I like to get a bit deeper into the culture than I feel like you can at a regular hotel – I want to have a kitchen and be able to shop at the grocery, live in a normal neighborhood, etc. and I’m just a bit too old to be willing to share a bunk room in a hostel. So, I tend to opt for Airbnb (not an affiliate link) or a homestay through HomestayBooking.com (not an affiliate link) when I travel. Both options let you immerse yourself a bit more into the culture and are usually less expensive than your hotel options. I also love these options because I continue to have wonderful experiences meeting and hanging out with the hosts and other guests at these accommodations – some of which have turned into great friends that I am still in touch with today.
Finally, for the real nitty gritty of travel, I never leave home without a Nalgene (affiliate link) (a virtually indestructible water bottle), my passport case (affiliate link), so that I can keep all of my visas, entry cards, immunization records, etc. organized, super light luggage with 360 degree spinner wheels (affiliate link), and my favorite travel pillow (affiliate link). Now, a note about this travel pillow: it’s not a normal crescent travel pillow and it’s the best I have found. However, when inflated, it’s rather large and you will get some stares. It’s worth it though, for me anyway. Every time I have used it on a long flight the other passengers look at me like I am insane when I take it out but once we land and I have been getting my beauty rest for 8 hours and am ready to see the town while they’ve been uncomfortably bobbing their heads around and just want to go to sleep, they all ask me where I got it and want one for themselves.
So that’s it for my essential travel tools. I hope that helps you out a bit as you plan your next trip, whether for business or pleasure.
Now I want to hear from you: What are your best travel tips and favorite travel tools? Please let me know in the comments section below.