I recently came to a big realization: I plan vacations differently than most people do – because I have to. I’ve discovered how to travel cheap! I make less than $45,000 a year, but my wife and I love to travel. In the last three years since we got married, we have done two trips to Europe (including visits at least once to Italy, The Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, and Croatia), a cruise to Alaska, and trips to the Northeast United States, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone. In a few months we will be going on a trip to Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Each of these trips we’ve taken have left us with a grand total of $0 of debt, and we’re ready to go on more. So, though a series of discussions with family and friends, I decided I had something I could share to help others travel more often and use less money in the process. I’ll share a couple key points in that realization.
How it Got Started
My wife and I were traveling in California’s silicon valley and we visited one of my cousins for an evening before we had to fly back home. In the course of our discussion, we ended up talking about all the traveling we had been able to do – and we shared a little about how we were able to make that happen without spending a lot of money. At one point I said something like “People probably look at all of the pictures of places we are going and think we make a lot of money because of all the trips we do.” They responded by saying “We were some of those people.” We spent a bit of time after that discussing some of the traveling they wanted to do and how they could make it a reality without spending a ton of money doing it.
Just about a week ago, I was talking to one of my good friends about some of the travel they had just done, and the trip to Asia I mentioned above, and he was surprised at the kind of deals we had been able to find to make it happen, spending next to nothing. He said “You should start a travel blog.” I thought that was a nice thing for him to say, but wondered if it was really something I should do I said “But there’s already so many of them out there, I’m not sure I could contribute a lot that isn’t being said already.” We moved on and talked about other things. But that got me thinking. Did I really have something to contribute that others weren’t saying already? Since you’re reading this post, I obviously came to the conclusion that I did. I’ll tell you a few reasons why, and I hope a lot of you can resonate with them enough to keep coming back to learn more.
Reason 1: I Fly Economy Class
This may not be incredibly surprising, since most people do fly in the main cabin, but as I’ve read travel website tips over the last few years, I have realized how much they focus on using points or finding low fares on business class or first class. I’ve flown 0 times in business or first class on the way to another country, and only two times on a domestic flight because I was upgraded (one was 5 days ago on a flight that landed at midnight and wasn’t full).
Part of my unofficial travel “formula” is the idea that I would rather go on three basic-level-luxury vacations instead of one high-level-luxury one for the same price. Unless you get a free upgrade, the fare difference between economy and business is incredible, and I’d rather experience more on the ground than in the air. This is the first key in how to travel cheap.
Reason 2: I don’t sign up for 10 credit cards every year
It doesn’t make good sense for most people to do that. While I often use points or miles or rewards of some kind when we go on longer trips, I don’t ever use all of them up at once, and I don’t keep on signing up for more when one’s signup bonus is used. That translates into sustainable travel that lasts long-term. It also doesn’t ruin your credit score by having too many inquiries within a short period of time. That also makes it so that when you do find a good one worth signing up for, you can. My basic first requirement is that I don’t sign up for a new card unless the sign-up bonus is at least worth $500. I’ll teach you how to maximize travel using your existing spending on the right cards. Read posts about credit cards
Reason 3: I don’t live on the east coast, or by a major airport
It’s easy to get a flight to Europe if you live in the east, or to hop over to Bermuda from New York. But I don’t live on the east coast. I don’t even live by a major airport. We live in Spokane, Washington (GEG). The closest major airport is about 4.5 hours away from our house in Seattle. And Seattle doesn’t have nearly the deals that airports like LAX, SFO, JFK, ORD, BOS, and others do. If I can get good deals and take to the skies from a small airport like GEG, most of the country can probably have at least as much success as I do if they use similar strategies.
Reason 4: I’ve liked traveling for a while
This may seem irrelevant to you, but it’s probably not. Let me explain: If you read this post through from the start, you caught a glimpse of the travel I’ve done with my wife in the last few years. But before we got married, I’d been to 38-42 states in the USA (including Alaska and Hawaii), as well as Bermuda, Costa Rica, Saint Lucia, Cancun, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Italy, Norway, France, Switzerland, Germany, and England. I’ve stayed in the range of accommodations from hotels to hostels, to Airbnbs, to the floor in a friend’s apartment. I grew up in a poor family, and never saw the inside of a jet plane until I was 15 years old. Since I’ve been able to travel as a single guy and as a married man (and seen the difference between no travel and some good trips), I can give you some pretty good tips on how to save money at either stage, and where some good places are to go depending on what you like to see and do, and what kind of place you like to stay in.
There you have it, the reason I’m starting this website. My goal is to help you be able to travel more often, to the places you want to go. Feel free to leave suggestions or comments below and let me know your thoughts!