How to best travel for cheap?

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rocket354
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How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

Midlife crisis is hitting, and while some people buy a Corvette, I suddenly want to do a lot of the travelling I should have done when I was 22. With Covid and being out of the loop for a while, I don't really know where to begin. My ideal trip would be of at least a few months in length, where I get to visit a variety of countries with some stops of a week or more where I can explore deeper. I know couchsurfing was hot for a while, and I'm not opposed to some things I've seen where I work on people's houses/land for a few hours a day in exchange for accommodations. I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible, nor the must-have gadgets I might want to have (safety/communication/etc), nor what might be the best approach to planning. Or even which sources to trust, so pointing me to good resources would be appreciated.

I am 42, would be travelling solo, and have a job I hatehatehate. I am leanFI right now, and would probably quit the day job to travel then figure out where I want to go with my life from there.

Edit: I'm in the US and just want to emphasize, my preference is for mostly international travel, although having some domestic legs of the trip is fine (I've never been to Alaska, for example). Hopefully that helps guide some of the recommendations.
Last edited by rocket354 on Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ThankYouJack
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by ThankYouJack »

I'm getting the desire to travel and explore more too.

I think traveling to other countries cheaply and safely can be challenging (at least that's been my experience), but I'm sure others will have some good feedback.

Do you enjoy camping? Staying at National and State Parks is usually dirt cheap with a tent. Also, do you have any friends or family in places you'd like to travel?

I did the couch surfing thing once when I was younger but it was kind of an odd experience. Think I'd rather just pay for a hotel.
bberris
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by bberris »

You really want to stay on someone's couch? If you are not big on privacy, consider a hostel. They are not just for college students and you could meet some (interesting?) people. Also when you get to eastern and southern Europe, Asia and Africa, the hotels and restaurants are amazingly cheap, especially off season and away from the big famous capitals.
Tink221
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Tink221 »

Have you ventured into the travel hacking space? I just started opening some credit cards last year and have around $4k worth of points I have to figure out how to use. I started with a course on https://www.travelmiles101.com/ then started using https://travelfreely.net/ to track my bonuses. I plan to use my points to go to Portugal this summer and just have started to open my mind to possibilities of spontaneous travel. Good Luck!

P.S. I also did the Camino De Santiago in Spain and I highly recommend it to everyone. 500 miles over about 5 weeks. Stay in a new cheap place every night and meet a group of cool people to walk with. I did it when I was about 24 (2011) and I think I spent about $2,500 in all.
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calmaniac
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by calmaniac »

bberris wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:01 pm Also when you get to eastern and southern Europe, Asia and Africa, the hotels and restaurants are amazingly cheap, especially off season and away from the big famous capitals.
+1
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rocket354
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

Thanks for the responses. I do not want to be on any couches, just throwing a name out there I remember from 15 or so years ago. I like to stay in beds. I also like my own room, although it doesn't have to be even remotely fancy--shared bathrooms are fine. Tents for the most part are a no-go for back-related issues--I am middle-aged now, although overall in good health.
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rocket354
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

Tink221 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:03 pm Have you ventured into the travel hacking space? I just started opening some credit cards last year and have around $4k worth of points I have to figure out how to use. I started with a course on https://www.travelmiles101.com/ then started using https://travelfreely.net/ to track my bonuses. I plan to use my points to go to Portugal this summer and just have started to open my mind to possibilities of spontaneous travel. Good Luck!

P.S. I also did the Camino De Santiago in Spain and I highly recommend it to everyone. 500 miles over about 5 weeks. Stay in a new cheap place every night and meet a group of cool people to walk with. I did it when I was about 24 (2011) and I think I spent about $2,500 in all.
I have maybe $1500 in points saved up, although I'm anxious to get more. I figured I'd use that for airfare, then try mostly ground transportation from there. I love trains, and I'm happy seeing the countryside. Travel is a journey, not a destination.

I appreciate the recommendation for the Camino De Santaigo. I'll check it out. I'm not particularly spiritual, but would I still fit in?
Uniballer
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Uniballer »

My Dad (ex-military) took my Mom to Hawaii by space-available military transport (I think a C-130). So the flights were basically free.

She said it was an adventure, and she never before flew in a plane where she had to wear a helmet with hearing protection 8-) .
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ResearchMed
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by ResearchMed »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:07 pm
Tink221 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:03 pm Have you ventured into the travel hacking space? I just started opening some credit cards last year and have around $4k worth of points I have to figure out how to use. I started with a course on https://www.travelmiles101.com/ then started using https://travelfreely.net/ to track my bonuses. I plan to use my points to go to Portugal this summer and just have started to open my mind to possibilities of spontaneous travel. Good Luck!

P.S. I also did the Camino De Santiago in Spain and I highly recommend it to everyone. 500 miles over about 5 weeks. Stay in a new cheap place every night and meet a group of cool people to walk with. I did it when I was about 24 (2011) and I think I spent about $2,500 in all.
I have maybe $1500 in points saved up, although I'm anxious to get more. I figured I'd use that for airfare, then try mostly ground transportation from there. I love trains, and I'm happy seeing the countryside. Travel is a journey, not a destination.

I appreciate the recommendation for the Camino De Santaigo. I'll check it out. I'm not particularly spiritual, but would I still fit in?
Look carefully at the best use of points, and which cards/partners work best for what *you* want.

For example, awards air travel can be phenomenally "cheap" (compared with paying cash) IF one wants to travel on top international airlines in premium (F, first, or J, Business) class. And that makes the most sense if one would indeed have paid cash for at least a J ticket. (The difference in awards between F and J, if one is already in J, sometimes isn't all that much.)

But if one would have flown on the least expensive tickets one could find, then maybe... there might be a better use of awards, such as hotels, or even a very good "cash back" card.

As you get started, it might pay to do a bit of background reading about the various uses and values (vs. cash) of various types of points and cards/programs as well as the partner uses for each program.
For example, we use mostly American Airlines points. But we've never used them to fly ON American Airlines. We've used those points for premium travel on airlines like Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific (amazing comfort/service in J or F). With AA and American Express awards and each of those networks of partners, most (not all) airlines are included if we want to fly them.

And then figure out what will be most useful and enjoyable by *you*.
Don't try to get perfection right away. It can get very complex. Just fine some uses that really appeal to you, and you'll probably slowly also learn about some other uses.

www.FlyerTalk.com is a source for "points" information, but that forum is not always as friendly to newbies as BH tends to be. Just ignore "those" posts.
And there are other sources such as The Points Guy (or something similar), among others.

RM
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bligh
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by bligh »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm
I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible, nor the must-have gadgets I might want to have (safety/communication/etc), nor what might be the best approach to planning. Or even which sources to trust, so pointing me to good resources would be appreciated.
Different people have different definitions of cheap but. I would approach it from a dollars per day perspective (when you include everything, transportation/lodging/food/activies). For your trip, what do you want to target? $25/day? $50/day? $100/day? $200/day? All of the above are possible with the right set of tradeoffs.

For example @ $100/day (works out to about $37,000/year) is totally doable in most places but you will need to use public transport (apart from the first flight out to say Europe), eat cheap and not at fancy restaurants, stay well outside major cities and tourist hotspots and use the public transport options to visit the places you wish to see. Stay at and visit cheaper countries like Vietnam or India over places like Switzerland and Monaco.

You will need to add in additional costs such as costs of maintaining responsibilities back home in the US. Health Insurance coverage. Communication costs if there are people you wish to communicate with. Legal costs things like for visas or permits, and in many countries, bribes. Set a budget for shopping and or entertainment and activities. Break it down as best as you can.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by avlfutbol »

Totally dependent on the geography and what you define as cheap. One way to do it is set your budget and decide the geography. One can live relatively cheap in some geographies (1.500a month USD) and it is darn close to luxury living. Airbnb in many places can be less than 30 a night in a posh aparta studio. I find many of the same airbnb spaces on booking at a cheaper rate because they don't charge the 20 percent service fee.

A lot of hostels have private suites on the cheap. Eating from a market obviously is less expensive than dining. In country flights are often times cheaper. Example, select the filter for the country you are flying domestically instead of the default US off your computer and magically the prices get more like local prices. Busses, although slower, can be significantly cheaper particularly on holiday weekends.

As far as safety, more than half my adult life has been outside of the US and I have never been robbed, stolen from, etc. Maybe luck or maybe just a little bit of street smarts and visualizing sketchy situations before I step into it. You just need to keep your wits about you.

The worst I have had was some diabolical intestinal bug in Peru from food and scabies from a hostel in Europe after probably 45 countries. You cannot plan everything. Pack a backpack find your first few nights on booking, get talking to the people in your location and do what you like and makes financial sense for you. You make contacts along the way, learn, improvise, and figure it out.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

bligh wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:26 pm
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm
I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible, nor the must-have gadgets I might want to have (safety/communication/etc), nor what might be the best approach to planning. Or even which sources to trust, so pointing me to good resources would be appreciated.
Different people have different definitions of cheap but. I would approach it from a dollars per day perspective (when you include everything, transportation/lodging/food/activies). For your trip, what do you want to target? $25/day? $50/day? $100/day? $200/day? All of the above are possible with the right set of tradeoffs.

For example @ $100/day (works out to about $37,000/year) is totally doable in most places but you will need to use public transport (apart from the first flight out to say Europe), eat cheap and not at fancy restaurants, stay well outside major cities and tourist hotspots and use the public transport options to visit the places you wish to see. Stay at and visit cheaper countries like Vietnam or India over places like Switzerland and Monaco.

You will need to add in additional costs such as costs of maintaining responsibilities back home in the US. Health Insurance coverage. Communication costs if there are people you wish to communicate with. Legal costs things like for visas or permits, and in many countries, bribes. Set a budget for shopping and or entertainment and activities. Break it down as best as you can.
Thanks for the reply! I do not have a fixed dollar per day because I don't really know what things cost. It's likely a sliding scale where if I don't like the $50/day for (say) 100 days option, I might instead do the $100/day for 50 days option. Really, I'm mostly orienting myself for the moment. I'm unlikely to actually do anything until next spring (my next bonus pays in February).

One thing...can you expound on the bolded portion a little bit? I'd like to be efficient, but also, would not want to end up in a foreign jail if I can help it.
Last edited by rocket354 on Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by vanbogle59 »

A few years back my daughter arranged a trip for family and friends to Iceland, Ireland, England.
A combination of Airbnb, VRBO and hostels.
Most expensive night was $35 per person. Cheapest was under 20.
My guess is prices have gone up, but probably not that much.
DW and I were late 50s at the time, so some challenges. :wink: But great memories.
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rocket354
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

Also, one other note, is I have no idea about visas or permits. I've travelled internationally, but never for more than about two weeks so I've never done anything other than book a flight and get my passport stamped. At what point do I have to worry about a visa or permit? And how to best/most cost-effectively attain?
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by ThankYouJack »

I stayed at a small surf camp in Nicaragua a few years ago and workers stayed there for free if they helped cook, clean, etc. Was a neat experience and some cool people from all over but not in the safest area. Maybe Costa Rica has something similar. I’ve heard you can work on sailboats as well to travel for free.

I’ve also gone to summer school in Hawaii for dirt cheap.

One thing tho, OP, is the ages of other travelers depending on the trip. I’m a similar age and think I can hold my own but feel a bit strange if I’m hanging out with mostly twenty somethings.
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bligh
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by bligh »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:32 pm
bligh wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:26 pm
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm
I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible, nor the must-have gadgets I might want to have (safety/communication/etc), nor what might be the best approach to planning. Or even which sources to trust, so pointing me to good resources would be appreciated.
Different people have different definitions of cheap but. I would approach it from a dollars per day perspective (when you include everything, transportation/lodging/food/activies). For your trip, what do you want to target? $25/day? $50/day? $100/day? $200/day? All of the above are possible with the right set of tradeoffs.

For example @ $100/day (works out to about $37,000/year) is totally doable in most places but you will need to use public transport (apart from the first flight out to say Europe), eat cheap and not at fancy restaurants, stay well outside major cities and tourist hotspots and use the public transport options to visit the places you wish to see. Stay at and visit cheaper countries like Vietnam or India over places like Switzerland and Monaco.

You will need to add in additional costs such as costs of maintaining responsibilities back home in the US. Health Insurance coverage. Communication costs if there are people you wish to communicate with. Legal costs things like for visas or permits, and in many countries, bribes. Set a budget for shopping and or entertainment and activities. Break it down as best as you can.
One thing...can you expound on the bolded portion a little bit? I'd like to be efficient, but also, would not want to end up in a foreign jail if I can help it.
Well I didn't know what countries you were planning on going to. Just pointing out that if you are going to many of the poorer and less developed countries the cops/law enforcement/customs officers there can often be corrupt. They can often quote made up laws or selectively enforce laws to try to perform a shakedown. Sometimes this can be evaded, other times they cannot. I just thought I would mention it since it is better to plan for it if you are on a tight budget.

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RTlDa2cg0o
This guy is really good at avoiding those shakedowns, I would not have been that good.
rockstar
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rockstar »

Check out G Adventures or Backroads.
Naismith
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Naismith »

If you are planning on various countries, then having T-Mobile cell service is a huge plus. It has worked everyplace we have every travelled. Amusingly, last month when we were climbing a fortress in North Macedonia, looking out over a lake that was the border, we got a text welcoming us to Albania. Which we did not go to this time, but nice to know it works there. We had free LTE coverage all over North Macedonia and Greece, free texts, and 25 cents per minute phone calls.

That service used to be only good for 30 days of travel, but it has been increased to 45 or 90 days--not sure of the current limit.

I am a huge fan of booking.com. They have a wide range from modest apartments to fancy hotels, there are filters for things like parking, which is important when renting a car. They also have some non-traditional lodging; when we were in Iceland one summer, we stayed in some school dormitories, and saved money by using our sleeping bags on their mattress, rather than paying extra for sheets.

We are mostly independent travelers, and I appreciate the travel guides at our public library. I always start with the Insight Guides that have the beautiful photos to make me excited about visiting a place, then move to more practical guides from Rick Steves, Moon, or whatever. The Lonely Planet Guides will sell an e-book of one chapter for about $5. This is handy because I could print out the pages I needed, have the rest on a Kindle and the phone. And since were were mostly going to Northern Greece our last trip, that chapter was all I needed.

But I think it is important to go TO someplace, not just escape a tough work situation. What interests you? Before we went to Rome, we spent weeks watching videos about the architecture, history, ruins, food, various aspects.
ThankYouJack
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by ThankYouJack »

bligh wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:23 pm
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:32 pm
bligh wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:26 pm
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm
I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible, nor the must-have gadgets I might want to have (safety/communication/etc), nor what might be the best approach to planning. Or even which sources to trust, so pointing me to good resources would be appreciated.
Different people have different definitions of cheap but. I would approach it from a dollars per day perspective (when you include everything, transportation/lodging/food/activies). For your trip, what do you want to target? $25/day? $50/day? $100/day? $200/day? All of the above are possible with the right set of tradeoffs.

For example @ $100/day (works out to about $37,000/year) is totally doable in most places but you will need to use public transport (apart from the first flight out to say Europe), eat cheap and not at fancy restaurants, stay well outside major cities and tourist hotspots and use the public transport options to visit the places you wish to see. Stay at and visit cheaper countries like Vietnam or India over places like Switzerland and Monaco.

You will need to add in additional costs such as costs of maintaining responsibilities back home in the US. Health Insurance coverage. Communication costs if there are people you wish to communicate with. Legal costs things like for visas or permits, and in many countries, bribes. Set a budget for shopping and or entertainment and activities. Break it down as best as you can.
One thing...can you expound on the bolded portion a little bit? I'd like to be efficient, but also, would not want to end up in a foreign jail if I can help it.
Well I didn't know what countries you were planning on going to. Just pointing out that if you are going to many of the poorer and less developed countries the cops/law enforcement/customs officers there can often be corrupt. They can often quote made up laws or selectively enforce laws to try to perform a shakedown. Sometimes this can be evaded, other times they cannot. I just thought I would mention it since it is better to plan for it if you are on a tight budget.

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RTlDa2cg0o
This guy is really good at avoiding those shakedowns, I would not have been that good.
Shakedowns was one of my concerns in Nicaragua. My buddy and I pretty much decided if we had to, we'd pay the $20 "ticket" if we got pulled over by the police. I had read that was better than arguing with the police for a while because they'll really stall you and our Spanish is sparse.

Another buddy had his car stuck in India for months because he refused to pay a miscellaneous fee/ bribe from an ethical standpoint. He eventually got the car back, but I think he had to give in and paid the extra fees.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Exterous »

When looking for places to stay - look for someplace with a kitchen and washer. Not eating out every meal can save a fair bit of cash relative to the cost of eating out regardless of the country because grocery stores are so much cheaper. And you can still add local foods to the meals you make. We'll frequently do 2 meals a day on our own and then eat out or get takeout for the 3rd. There are a lot of staples you can generally do fairly quickly and easily so its not a ton of time and effort unless you want to make something fancy. Having a kitchen also makes leftovers (from cooking or takeout) more viable. Having easy access to a washer makes it easier to pack less, avoid costs at hotels or laundromats and you can set your wash and leave without worrying when it will be done. We also bring a few laundry sheets with us so we don't have to worry about detergent (either packing it or buying it). Serviced apartments can sometimes be a nice option if the city has a good selection of those (often falling between the hotel and hostel price points. More consistent experience compared to AirBnB&VRBO but might lose some laundry flexibility)

Google makes public transportation easy in many places so spending a little time to figure out routes compared to car rentals, taxis or ubers can help save money

Great website for all you ever needed to know about traveling by train (can help plan when a train is cheaper\easier than plane): https://www.seat61.com/
Has cost, how to buy, pictures and all manner of idea generating timetables. For example - all the places you can visit from Brussels by train: https://www.seat61.com/international-tr ... ussels.htm
Or maybe popular options in Peru: https://www.seat61.com/Peru.htm

A stay or rental of 7 days or more might trigger discounts. Sometimes when I've needed a rental car for 6 days I book 7 because its slightly less and then just return it on day 6. Discounts on week long stays are not uncommon on AirBnB or VRBO.
flyingaway
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by flyingaway »

Search the internet for travel blogs. There are a lot. Some of them list prices and how to do things in different places.
The cheapest and safe places to start travel are Southeast Asia countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, etc. Unfortunately, most of them are closed to tourists now. The cheap but not so safe places are Central and South America countries, many are open to the U.S. travelers now.
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LiveSimple
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by LiveSimple »

I know a friend goes out for months international for bucks for humanity.
https://www.habitat.org/together-we-bui ... lsrc=aw.ds

So see if that works fir you.

Nor sure if the friend got free accommodations or she donated her $$$ for the cause.
But I know she was working fir the projects.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by whodidntante »

Look into an around the world ticket on the major airlines. Generally you have travel in one direction, and you have constraints on the time and number of segments. But it can be a cost effective way to nomad. Flyertalk is a good resource if you have questions, but they aren't nice if you have not done basic reading on the topic.

Regarding cheap eats, I like to eat where the locals eat. I've had fantastic experiences (cheap, good, and often cheap and good) simply by wondering into busy restaurants where no one was speaking my language. Eat local food. Sure, you can probably find a hamburger or whatever you normally eat somewhere, but it's not going to be the same and it will probably cost a lot.

Plan significant time in low cost countries if you are adventurous. Some of the best times of my life were had in low cost countries. Do leave your American/Western expectations about how things should be at the border. It won't be like that, but you can still have a great time.

Likewise, you don't need to spend a lot on a hotel. I've had plenty of great stays for $30 per night. At long as it's a place I can sleep, I'm good. I'm not the type to sit around in a hotel room and relax, and I don't care if they have a pool or if breakfast is included.

There are some good YouTube personalities that talk about low-cost travel and travel hacking.

Credit card bonuses can offset your costs quite a bit. Also, consider picking up an AmEx platinum or similar top-tier travel card if you think you can fully exploit the benefits of a card like that. Make sure to get a good bonus.
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by whodidntante »

Just want to add that unfortunately, covid has made international travel a minefield of possible risks and entry requirements. I've entered two foreign countries this year and there was a definite hassle factor, and some places you cannot realistically visit right now. Most years I would visit more foreign countries than that. You can still go some places, but you aren't going to feel as free as in normal times. And check entry restrictions carefully so you don't get hit with a quarantine upon arrival, or get denied boarding your flight because you didn't fulfill some requirement.
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whodidntante
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by whodidntante »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:35 pm Also, one other note, is I have no idea about visas or permits. I've travelled internationally, but never for more than about two weeks so I've never done anything other than book a flight and get my passport stamped. At what point do I have to worry about a visa or permit? And how to best/most cost-effectively attain?
An American passport will get you into many but not all countries without arranging a visa in advance. If you do need a visa in advance, you can usually get it, but you'll generally need to apply at an embassy or consulate and wait a minimum of several days. You will have to temporarily hand over your passport also. There are visa services that will hand-deliver your application for you so you don't need to appear in person. They also audit your application for common errors that can result in denial or delays in visa approval. They seem like a rip off but it's a real time saver and can also save you a trip. I've used them. I would skip if the embassy or consulate is close by, or if there is a fully electronic application method available (this is the case for India now). Or if hand delivery is not required.

Getting seriously into the weeds here, but you might need to know so I'll tell you. In some countries (thankfully not many) you will need an invitation from a tour company to enter, even as a tourist. And some countries (KSA last I checked) do not allow entry for tourism at all. You'll have to go there for business or religious purposes, or whatever reasons they accept. Also, don't assume you can move freely in any country you visit. You are required to register with the local government when you travel within China, for example. If you stay at an "expensive" international hotel they will do this for you. But if you are traveling on the cheap, you'll have to do it yourself or run the risk of harassment or arrest. There may also be covid related travel restrictions. Peru was requiring people to get permission from the government to travel from city to city for some time, with checkpoints to enforce it. But that was so extreme that I doubt they kept that up. India also had curfews and travel restrictions at one point.

Generally, countries that our government considers friendly can be entered without arranging a visa in advance, and we reciprocate for their citizens. You just have to check. The information is easy to find.

This thread has great information about covid related restrictions. They start a new thread each month. https://www.reddit.com/r/travel/comment ... elrelated/

You can find all sorts of reasons not to go. But if you think you're going to have a blast, you probably will. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Last edited by whodidntante on Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MJS
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by MJS »

If you are going alone, start with countries where you can speak at least a bit of the language.

If you have a home/house/apartment, look into home exchanges.

If you like messing about in boats ... Ferries are substantially cheaper than cruises, go to tiny places that big ships don't, and have diverse passengers. On overnight trips, get a bunk or tiny cabin.
Alaska Marine Highway System
Blue Star Ferries (Greek isles)
Fjord1 (Norway)
Navimag (Chilean fiords)
Smyril (Denmark to Iceland via the Faroe Islands)
Transmediterranea (Spain: Mallorca, Canary Is, Morocco)
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Watty
Posts: 23575
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Watty »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm (I've never been to Alaska, for example).
Alaska has a state ferry system that goes many of the same places the cruise ships go to and many places they don't.

https://dot.alaska.gov/amhs/index.shtml

It has been decades since I did it but when I was in my 20s I took about a two week solo Alaska trip where I used that for part of the trip. Back then you could pitch a tent on the top deck of the ferry that was under cover. A lot of people did that so it there was a friendly crowd where you could meet a lot of people.

That was one of the few solo vacations that I have taken and I found that one advantage of that was that when you are alone you will talk to more people than when you are traveling with someone else.
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pmI am 42,
It will vary widely but I have stayed at hostels when I was just a few years older than that. That was mainly in Ireland when I was traveling with my wife and teenage son. We chose to stay in hostels in part thinking that my son might be able to meet some younger people. We were very wrong about that and many times we were some of the youngest people in the hostel because the local schools had not let out yet. There were lots of retired people in the hostels at that time of year including at least one guy in his 80s that we talked to.

A couple of general comments about hostels.

1) Hostels vary a lot so that it is critical that you read reviews.

2) Some of the best hostels that we stayed at were in rural areas that were best accessed by car. You need to be very careful with urban hostels since some of them can be real dodgy or attract a young party crowd.

3) Most hostels now have at least some private rooms usually with a bathroom that work well if you are traveling with someone else and at least in the shoulder season we have never had a problem getting a private room when making reservations a day or two ahead of time.

4) At least for a couple in Southern Europe(and much of the world) during the shoulder or off seasons small hotels can be so inexpensive that staying in a hostel does not make much financial sense so we usually use hotels. Sometimes in large cities we will still use a hostel but many of the are very hotel like. Sometimes the distinction between a hostel, a B&B, and a hotel can be a bit fuzzy.
rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:52 pm I just don't know the best approach to do things as cheaply as possible....
One of the key things for me is to go places during the shoulder season or even off season when rates may be a fraction of the high season.

One place that you may want to put on your list of possible destinations is the Greek Islands. It was a while back but we were there an the hotel rates drop like a rock about in the middle of September and we were able to get nice midrange hotel rooms for around $50 that were a block from beach and at least the year we were there the weather was wonderful. Some of the well known islands like Mykonos(skippable) and Santorini(worth a visit) may still be expensive but there are lots of other islands that are even nicer in some ways.
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2005
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Travel off peak. Great tips from others ^
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
halfnine
Posts: 1653
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by halfnine »

I have taken a year off to travel on a few occasions. It has never really cost me more for a year of travel than it has for a year at home. The benefit of long term travel is one can eliminate pretty much most of all their costs at home. The only costs I generally tended to have back home was costs for storage, car insurance, and health insurance. That isn't to say that these costs can't be eliminated but there is a certainly a cost-benefit anaysis to make here. One could certainly sell everything and not have any storage costs but the time and effort to pick back up when I returned weren't worth it to me. As to insurance sometimes it is just cheaper over the long term to keep a base policy rathar than to come back and start again without any long term history. But, I don't live in the USA these days and ACA has likely changed the analysis a bit as well.

Generic advice to lower costs overall:

- Spend 3 months minimum in a region and 6 months minimum in a continent. Or what most people often refer to as slow travel. Ultimately, you really won't have much of a choice but to eventually slow travel otherwise you will experience burnout. Two or three week travel is similar to running 100 meters, but year-long travel is more like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself.

- Spend more time in cheaper countries. It really is that simple. As much as I mentioned the benefits of slow travel above, fast travel will save one tremendous amounts of money in expensive countries (Western Europe) and then to unwind one can do extended slow travel (beach holiday, etc) in cheaper countries. There aren't all that many long term travelers who don't pick up the pace quite a bit while in Western Europe.

- Be young, healthy and quick to recover. The quicker one can recover the more one can do. Obviously, a lot of this has to do with age. My point...better now instead of later.

- Start in the cheap countries. You will make mistakes and your mistakes will have costs. It is much easier to spend your way out of a mistake in say Thailand than it would be in say Switzerland. If you save the more expensive countries until at least a few months into your trip you will be a lot more savvy.

- Be selective about where you do your bucket list items. For instance there are many places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the day, Malawi was the cheapest. There are literaly hundreds of great cathedrals out there so at some point you are probably not going to want to see another one so be selective. Some bucket list items will need to be booked well in advance (Inca Trail) but others you might get the best deal if you book with a local operator when you get there (African safaris) or when you get there and have some time and patience (Antarctica Cruise). But, of course, these details do change over time. For instance, Kilimanjaro was cheapest just to show up and book but I do not believe that is the case anymore.

As a final note, don't worry if it takes a little while to get a hang of things. I've found that it always takes me about 3 weeks to establish a routine and around 2 months to establish a good rhythm. As to safety, not all "police officers" are really police officers the important point is not go anywhere with anyone outside of the public eye or to appeal to other people in public for assitance/verification. The other tidbit is that you choose the people that help or provide a service to you (taxi driver, locals trying to help, etc.) not that they choose you although this can largely be ignored the further you are away from a touristy area. And, of course, taking a "touristy" selfie of that person or say a taxi (making sure to get the license plate) can also deter scams when you can't be as selective.

I will add that before I took off for the first time I purchased a copy of The Practical Nomad. It looks like the latest addition is 2011 which is probably a bit outdated but it was at least in the 90s (probably still is) the most thorough guide to traveling around the globe.
Last edited by halfnine on Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
halfnine
Posts: 1653
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by halfnine »

Watty wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:45 pm ...Alaska has a state ferry system that goes many of the same places the cruise ships go to and many places they don't.

https://dot.alaska.gov/amhs/index.shtml

It has been decades since I did it but when I was in my 20s I took about a two week solo Alaska trip where I used that for part of the trip. Back then you could pitch a tent on the top deck of the ferry that was under cover. A lot of people did that so it there was a friendly crowd where you could meet a lot of people.

That was one of the few solo vacations that I have taken and I found that one advantage of that was that when you are alone you will talk to more people than when you are traveling with someone else...
I will concur this is an excellent trip. When I went they had heat lamps and deck chairs to sleep on which likely makes me a bit younger than you.
Watty wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:45 pm It will vary widely but I have stayed at hostels when I was just a few years older than that. That was mainly in Ireland when I was traveling with my wife and teenage son. We chose to stay in hostels in part thinking that my son might be able to meet some younger people. We were very wrong about that and many times we were some of the youngest people in the hostel because the local schools had not let out yet. There were lots of retired people in the hostels at that time of year including at least one guy in his 80s that we talked to.

A couple of general comments about hostels.

1) Hostels vary a lot so that it is critical that you read reviews.

2) Some of the best hostels that we stayed at were in rural areas that were best accessed by car. You need to be very careful with urban hostels since some of them can be real dodgy or attract a young party crowd.

3) Most hostels now have at least some private rooms usually with a bathroom that work well if you are traveling with someone else and at least in the shoulder season we have never had a problem getting a private room when making reservations a day or two ahead of time.

4) At least for a couple in Southern Europe(and much of the world) during the shoulder or off seasons small hotels can be so inexpensive that staying in a hostel does not make much financial sense so we usually use hotels. Sometimes in large cities we will still use a hostel but many of the are very hotel like. Sometimes the distinction between a hostel, a B&B, and a hotel can be a bit fuzzy.
This is all very true as well. The overall trend that I've noticed across Europe is that the hostels that are closer to the city centre tend to be more geared for a younger, partying atmosphere and the further away they get the more they cater towards families. It is something one will need to keep in mind as in a major city a hostel that may provide a more family oriented experience also might add on additional transport time to get to/from where you want to go during the day.
Exterous
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Exterous »

halfnine wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:47 am - Be selective about where you do your bucket list items. For instance there are many places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the day, Malawi was the cheapest.
When selecting a place to learn how to scuba dive please look at more than the price and reviews. There are lots of certification mills these days in cheap vacation spots and I've had the misfortune of diving with some of these 'certified divers' in a few different locations. They were downright dangerous and the reviews from a couple places that certified them were great but all about how easy and fast it was to get certified while they clearly missed the mark on skills. There's lots of good information on Youtube or places like Scubaboard.com on what to look for for anyone interested
neilpilot
Posts: 3916
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by neilpilot »

MJS wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:29 pm If you are going alone, start with countries where you can speak at least a bit of the language.

If you have a home/house/apartment, look into home exchanges.

If you like messing about in boats ... Ferries are substantially cheaper than cruises, go to tiny places that big ships don't, and have diverse passengers. On overnight trips, get a bunk or tiny cabin.
Alaska Marine Highway System
Blue Star Ferries (Greek isles)
Fjord1 (Norway)
Navimag (Chilean fiords)
Smyril (Denmark to Iceland via the Faroe Islands)
Transmediterranea (Spain: Mallorca, Canary Is, Morocco)
Have not swapped homes, but we do use a web site that offers homes in exchange for taking care of the owner’s pet. Website is UK based but there are many members in the USA. We’ve stayed in 14 homes since 2017, with all but 3 in the USA. Would have been more if not for COVID.
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2005
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

halfnine wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:47 am I have taken a year off to travel on a few occasions. It has never really cost me more for a year of travel than it has for a year at home. The benefit of long term travel is one can eliminate pretty much most of all their costs at home. The only costs I generally tended to have back home was costs for storage, car insurance, and health insurance. That isn't to say that these costs can't be eliminated but there is a certainly a cost-benefit anaysis to make here. One could certainly sell everything and not have any storage costs but the time and effort to pick back up when I returned weren't worth it to me. As to insurance sometimes it is just cheaper over the long term to keep a base policy rathar than to come back and start again without any long term history. But, I don't live in the USA these days and ACA has likely changed the analysis a bit as well.

Generic advice to lower costs overall:

- Spend 3 months minimum in a region and 6 months minimum in a continent. Or what most people often refer to as slow travel. Ultimately, you really won't have much of a choice but to eventually slow travel otherwise you will experience burnout. Two or three week travel is similar to running 100 meters, but year-long travel is more like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself.

- Spend more time in cheaper countries. It really is that simple. As much as I mentioned the benefits of slow travel above, fast travel will save one tremendous amounts of money in expensive countries (Western Europe) and then to unwind one can do extended slow travel (beach holiday, etc) in cheaper countries. There aren't all that many long term travelers who don't pick up the pace quite a bit while in Western Europe.

- Be young, healthy and quick to recover. The quicker one can recover the more one can do. Obviously, a lot of this has to do with age. My point...better now instead of later.

- Start in the cheap countries. You will make mistakes and your mistakes will have costs. It is much easier to spend your way out of a mistake in say Thailand than it would be in say Switzerland. If you save the more expensive countries until at least a few months into your trip you will be a lot more savvy.

- Be selective about where you do your bucket list items. For instance there are many places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the day, Malawi was the cheapest. There are literaly hundreds of great cathedrals out there so at some point you are probably not going to want to see another one so be selective. Some bucket list items will need to be booked well in advance (Inca Trail) but others you might get the best deal if you book with a local operator when you get there (African safaris) or when you get there and have some time and patience (Antarctica Cruise). But, of course, these details do change over time. For instance, Kilimanjaro was cheapest just to show up and book but I do not believe that is the case anymore.

As a final note, don't worry if it takes a little while to get a hang of things. I've found that it always takes me about 3 weeks to establish a routine and around 2 months to establish a good rhythm. As to safety, not all "police officers" are really police officers the important point is not go anywhere with anyone outside of the public eye or to appeal to other people in pubic for assitance/verification. The other tidbit is that you choose the people that help or provide a service to you (taxi driver, locals trying to help, etc.) not that they choose you although this can largely be ignored the further you are away from a touristy area. And, of course, taking a "touristy" selfie of that person or say a taxi (making sure to get the license plate) can also deter scams when you can't be as selective.

I will add that before I took off for the first time I purchased a copy of The Practical Nomad. It looks like the latest addition is 2011 which is probably a bit outdated but it was at least in the 90s (probably still is) the most thorough guide to traveling around the globe.
Great post! Wish I have time to do this kind of travel. Not sure I'd like it, but would like to find out!
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
halfnine
Posts: 1653
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by halfnine »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:06 am
halfnine wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:47 am I have taken a year off to travel on a few occasions. It has never really cost me more for a year of travel than it has for a year at home. The benefit of long term travel is one can eliminate pretty much most of all their costs at home. The only costs I generally tended to have back home was costs for storage, car insurance, and health insurance. That isn't to say that these costs can't be eliminated but there is a certainly a cost-benefit anaysis to make here. One could certainly sell everything and not have any storage costs but the time and effort to pick back up when I returned weren't worth it to me. As to insurance sometimes it is just cheaper over the long term to keep a base policy rathar than to come back and start again without any long term history. But, I don't live in the USA these days and ACA has likely changed the analysis a bit as well.

Generic advice to lower costs overall:

- Spend 3 months minimum in a region and 6 months minimum in a continent. Or what most people often refer to as slow travel. Ultimately, you really won't have much of a choice but to eventually slow travel otherwise you will experience burnout. Two or three week travel is similar to running 100 meters, but year-long travel is more like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself.

- Spend more time in cheaper countries. It really is that simple. As much as I mentioned the benefits of slow travel above, fast travel will save one tremendous amounts of money in expensive countries (Western Europe) and then to unwind one can do extended slow travel (beach holiday, etc) in cheaper countries. There aren't all that many long term travelers who don't pick up the pace quite a bit while in Western Europe.

- Be young, healthy and quick to recover. The quicker one can recover the more one can do. Obviously, a lot of this has to do with age. My point...better now instead of later.

- Start in the cheap countries. You will make mistakes and your mistakes will have costs. It is much easier to spend your way out of a mistake in say Thailand than it would be in say Switzerland. If you save the more expensive countries until at least a few months into your trip you will be a lot more savvy.

- Be selective about where you do your bucket list items. For instance there are many places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the day, Malawi was the cheapest. There are literaly hundreds of great cathedrals out there so at some point you are probably not going to want to see another one so be selective. Some bucket list items will need to be booked well in advance (Inca Trail) but others you might get the best deal if you book with a local operator when you get there (African safaris) or when you get there and have some time and patience (Antarctica Cruise). But, of course, these details do change over time. For instance, Kilimanjaro was cheapest just to show up and book but I do not believe that is the case anymore.

As a final note, don't worry if it takes a little while to get a hang of things. I've found that it always takes me about 3 weeks to establish a routine and around 2 months to establish a good rhythm. As to safety, not all "police officers" are really police officers the important point is not go anywhere with anyone outside of the public eye or to appeal to other people in public for assitance/verification. The other tidbit is that you choose the people that help or provide a service to you (taxi driver, locals trying to help, etc.) not that they choose you although this can largely be ignored the further you are away from a touristy area. And, of course, taking a "touristy" selfie of that person or say a taxi (making sure to get the license plate) can also deter scams when you can't be as selective.

I will add that before I took off for the first time I purchased a copy of The Practical Nomad. It looks like the latest addition is 2011 which is probably a bit outdated but it was at least in the 90s (probably still is) the most thorough guide to traveling around the globe.
Great post! Wish I have time to do this kind of travel. Not sure I'd like it, but would like to find out!
There is another equally valid alternative that could also be appealing. Many people opt for this route especially those who don't plan on necessarily going for a year but possibly longer with no set date of return or those who are now older or more semi-retired. This is simply to pick 3 or 4 countries and stay in them from 3-6 months (visa restrictions). Simply do this while following good weather patterns and shoulder seasons. Some people do this year after year swapping out an old country for a new one every year. And then when returning to the previous countries using those as a base to explore adjacent countries.
flyingaway
Posts: 3530
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by flyingaway »

halfnine wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:47 am I have taken a year off to travel on a few occasions. It has never really cost me more for a year of travel than it has for a year at home. The benefit of long term travel is one can eliminate pretty much most of all their costs at home. The only costs I generally tended to have back home was costs for storage, car insurance, and health insurance. That isn't to say that these costs can't be eliminated but there is a certainly a cost-benefit anaysis to make here. One could certainly sell everything and not have any storage costs but the time and effort to pick back up when I returned weren't worth it to me. As to insurance sometimes it is just cheaper over the long term to keep a base policy rathar than to come back and start again without any long term history. But, I don't live in the USA these days and ACA has likely changed the analysis a bit as well.

Generic advice to lower costs overall:

- Spend 3 months minimum in a region and 6 months minimum in a continent. Or what most people often refer to as slow travel. Ultimately, you really won't have much of a choice but to eventually slow travel otherwise you will experience burnout. Two or three week travel is similar to running 100 meters, but year-long travel is more like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself.

- Spend more time in cheaper countries. It really is that simple. As much as I mentioned the benefits of slow travel above, fast travel will save one tremendous amounts of money in expensive countries (Western Europe) and then to unwind one can do extended slow travel (beach holiday, etc) in cheaper countries. There aren't all that many long term travelers who don't pick up the pace quite a bit while in Western Europe.

- Be young, healthy and quick to recover. The quicker one can recover the more one can do. Obviously, a lot of this has to do with age. My point...better now instead of later.

- Start in the cheap countries. You will make mistakes and your mistakes will have costs. It is much easier to spend your way out of a mistake in say Thailand than it would be in say Switzerland. If you save the more expensive countries until at least a few months into your trip you will be a lot more savvy.

- Be selective about where you do your bucket list items. For instance there are many places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the day, Malawi was the cheapest. There are literaly hundreds of great cathedrals out there so at some point you are probably not going to want to see another one so be selective. Some bucket list items will need to be booked well in advance (Inca Trail) but others you might get the best deal if you book with a local operator when you get there (African safaris) or when you get there and have some time and patience (Antarctica Cruise). But, of course, these details do change over time. For instance, Kilimanjaro was cheapest just to show up and book but I do not believe that is the case anymore.

As a final note, don't worry if it takes a little while to get a hang of things. I've found that it always takes me about 3 weeks to establish a routine and around 2 months to establish a good rhythm. As to safety, not all "police officers" are really police officers the important point is not go anywhere with anyone outside of the public eye or to appeal to other people in pubic for assitance/verification. The other tidbit is that you choose the people that help or provide a service to you (taxi driver, locals trying to help, etc.) not that they choose you although this can largely be ignored the further you are away from a touristy area. And, of course, taking a "touristy" selfie of that person or say a taxi (making sure to get the license plate) can also deter scams when you can't be as selective.

I will add that before I took off for the first time I purchased a copy of The Practical Nomad. It looks like the latest addition is 2011 which is probably a bit outdated but it was at least in the 90s (probably still is) the most thorough guide to traveling around the globe.
Unless you do not want to come back to the U.S. in a long time, selling and buying a house involves a lot of costs or losses. Maintaining a house when you are not using it is also costly.
marielake
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:39 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by marielake »

What about working while there to earn your stay. I know a guy who went to Australia for an extended stay and worked on a wine farm.

Also, choose inexpensive countries, like SE Asia for example.
sabhen
Posts: 307
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2016 1:03 am

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by sabhen »

Even expensive countries (Western Europe) you can find ways to lower costs and have a good time if you are willing to be flexible. Use public transport, buy food from supermarkets (roast chicken,fruits, cooked meals etc..). I stayed in very clean hostels in Switzerland and shopped at Aldi and had wonderful time and visiting museums and scenery etc...You can indulge by eating wonderful food at the Railway Station.
Jags4186
Posts: 6142
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Jags4186 »

My recommendation is not to travel cheap. It gets old fast, especially if you intend to do it for months. I don’t mean stay at a Ritz or Park Hyatt, but at least travel comfortably when available.

I also hate the advice “eat where the locals eat” as if there’s secret back channel local restaurants that nobody knows about that serve amazing food for the change you find in between your seat cushions. I assume you’re smart enough not to go and eat at Applebees Leicester Square… Go on Wikitravel and see their recommendations. I’ve never gotten a bum steer and they are categorized by pricing point.
deepvalleys
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:38 am
Location: Norway

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by deepvalleys »

You can spend nights cheaply if you stay in hostels in a 4 bed room. Most people above 40 don't like it as they have higher demands than younger people, like a comfortable bed, not hearing other people snoring, and so on. But it is also more interesting if you want to meet others. Of course most people in a hostel are in their 20's but that's a plus in my view as they are more open to meeting strangers. But the downside is they might see you as an old geezer. That said there are also older people travelling in hostels.

Airbnb is also interesting, if you want to meet people, but then you need to avoid the companies renting out apartments large scale on airbnb.

Public transport is great. Especially in "exotic" countries where you can travel dirt cheap together with ordinary people, instead of getting ripped of by taxi drivers. It's can be an experience in itself.
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willthrill81
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by willthrill81 »

I can sympathize. My work satisfaction has gone down significantly over the last few years. We're working hard to enable me (sole earner) to retire in ~5 years or so. We too love to travel, but for various reasons, we won't be doing much international travel at first. Rather, we've already bought a small motorhome that we love traveling in. It's remarkable how affordable traveling in an RV can be, though it can be very expensive too, depending on how it's done.

There are sizable full-time RV communities in Europe and Australia. I don't know that RVing would work well in much of Africa or Asia, though other modes of travel can be very inexpensive in those places. I know that many have RVed across much of S. America.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Tink221
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Location: Maine

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Tink221 »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:07 pm I figured I'd use that for airfare, then try mostly ground transportation from there. I love trains, and I'm happy seeing the countryside. Travel is a journey, not a destination.

I appreciate the recommendation for the Camino De Santaigo. I'll check it out. I'm not particularly spiritual, but would I still fit in?
Totally. I am not religious at all and became less so on the pilgrimage. I loved the nature and simplicity aspects of it. You get to see plenty of countryside walking 10 miles a day. My wife and I bought a europass that lasted two months from the first use so we traveled by train to our starting point in St. Jean Pied Du Port and then from Santiago after.
Dougroseville
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Dougroseville »

rocket354 wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:07 pm I appreciate the recommendation for the Camino De Santaigo. I'll check it out. I'm not particularly spiritual, but would I still fit in?
Greetings,
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/ is a great place to go for all sorts of Camino de Santiago information.
Here is one, of many posts which might be of interest.
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/communi ... rim.20436/

There are more than a dozen routes of the Camino. The best known ones are in Spain, Portugal, and France. They attract a broad cross section of people, with many in their 20s and many retirees.

I did my first at age 63 and a couple more since then - honestly, some of the best experience of my life. The most interesting part is meeting people from various walks of life from around the world. While most people stay in shared rooms in albergues (Pilgrim's hostels), it is usually possible to find reasonably priced private accommodations (typically ~$35 to $50 several years ago, COVID might push up the price a bit). It is uncommon for a Pilgrim to spend more than ~$20 a day on food (and some spend much less). In the past virtually everybody carried their belongings on their back, now a significant number of people use luggage transport services to carry their backpacks.

A youtuber with many thoughtful videos which might be good for somebody interested in the Camino: https://www.youtube.com/c/robscamino

¡Buen Camino!
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rocket354
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Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by rocket354 »

Thanks for all the amazing responses. This thread has given me a lot to think about and to digest. I'm just now starting to realize how much I didn't even know I didn't know (or, at least, wasn't considering). Most of it is just around logistics of personal items.

Stuff like:
  • Since I'd likely need to carry everything of mine in a backpack, is there a recommended brand? size? weight recommendations? (I imagine anything that feels light for a while might be torturous after a few weeks or months).
  • What specific items should I make sure I bring? What items might be tempting for me to bring, but I'd soon realize I don't really need?
  • What are easy/safe things to do with my belongings at times I don't want to lug them? Or do I just prance into any restaurant, museum, theater, cathedral, etc, with a big bag on my back?
  • I know for a while there (again, 15-year-old information from the last time I did much travelling or thought too seriously about it), it was popular to claim to be from Canada rather than the US. Watching those videos upthread of the guys in Nigeria repeatedly getting shaken down by local officials makes me wonder if claiming to be another nationality might make me less likely to be seen as a target or a "rich guy."
  • Another old piece of advice I remember is having a "dummy" set of money/cards. So if I get robbed or held up I can hand over a few dollars and a (canceled) credit card or two and the guy can run off, and I haven't actually lost anything important. Is that still recommended, or are either thieves more sophisticated, or are there more sophisticated safety protocols? I think one of the worst things that could happen is I lose my passport or my credit card(s) in some backwater area of some developing country (or, really, anywhere). I'd like to protect myself against that happening as much as possible.
  • And, health insurance. Since I'd quit my job, I'd have to go to the ACA marketplace. Are there any complications I might not know about with insurance vis a vis traveling for a few months overseas?

Please keep the ideas coming. I am getting antsy to go!
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 23575
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Watty »

rocket354 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:01 pm What specific items should I make sure I bring? What items might be tempting for me to bring, but I'd soon realize I don't really need?
It would be good to read the Rick Steves travel books and web site. He has a lot of details about what to carry when you are traveling in Europe and he is a big advocate of just traveling with one carry on bag. We have traveled like that and it works for us.

His recommended travel budget is a lot higher than yours but if you are going to Europe I would highly recommend his books. It has been a long time since I have read it but his book "Europe Through the Back Door" would be worth reading since it is a general travel guide. If your library does not have it you an likely get an inexpensive used copy of an older version and that should generally be just fine.

Spoiler alert. If you are going to a developed country and you find that you need something you did not bring you can just buy it at a local store.
Dougroseville
Posts: 144
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:26 am

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Dougroseville »

rocket354 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:01 pm
Stuff like:
  • Since I'd likely need to carry everything of mine in a backpack, is there a recommended brand? size? weight recommendations? (I imagine anything that feels light for a while might be torturous after a few weeks or months).
  • What specific items should I make sure I bring? What items might be tempting for me to bring, but I'd soon realize I don't really need?
  • What are easy/safe things to do with my belongings at times I don't want to lug them? Or do I just prance into any restaurant, museum, theater, cathedral, etc, with a big bag on my back?
  • I know for a while there (again, 15-year-old information from the last time I did much travelling or thought too seriously about it), it was popular to claim to be from Canada rather than the US. Watching those videos upthread of the guys in Nigeria repeatedly getting shaken down by local officials makes me wonder if claiming to be another nationality might make me less likely to be seen as a target or a "rich guy."
  • Another old piece of advice I remember is having a "dummy" set of money/cards. So if I get robbed or held up I can hand over a few dollars and a (canceled) credit card or two and the guy can run off, and I haven't actually lost anything important. Is that still recommended, or are either thieves more sophisticated, or are there more sophisticated safety protocols? I think one of the worst things that could happen is I lose my passport or my credit card(s) in some backwater area of some developing country (or, really, anywhere). I'd like to protect myself against that happening as much as possible.
  • And, health insurance. Since I'd quit my job, I'd have to go to the ACA marketplace. Are there any complications I might not know about with insurance vis a vis traveling for a few months overseas?
My wife and I have amazon.com/Osprey-Farpoint-Travel-Backpack-Volcanic/dp/B014EBKMMG/ and amazon.com/Osprey-Fairview-Womens-Travel-Backpack/dp/B06VV8FVPT/ they are great for warm weather travel (not carrying sleeping bags or bulky winter clothing). They are (generally) carry-on size and have a panel which can cover the shoulder straps and make them appear more like a suitcase. It would probably be possible to use these on the Camino de Santiago, but I have actually used a 38 Liter osprey.com/us/en/product/kestrel-38-KESTREL38S19.html

A good smartphone with decent camera is almost a necessity (for AirBnb, Uber or similar, Google Maps, Booking.com, WhatsApp, etc.). Local SIMs (regionally for the EU) are much easier to find outside the US and are recommended unless you have good and cheap coverage international coverage, such as with Google FI and most T-Mobile Postpaid plans. I forward landline and US cell phone to my US based free Google Voice number so I don't need to leave an ~extended absence greeting~ (for security reasons).

I use something similar to this: amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-RFID-Blocking-Hidden sometimes on belt (always on the same side, the side with belt buckle so it won't slide off if belt is released), but usually in a zippered and flapped pants pocket. Daily cash is carried in a zippered shirt pocket so travel pouch is seldom taken out in public. Travel pouch and smartphone are ALWAYs with me (even in shower and bed in hostels). Some hostels have lockers, but generally I accept some level of risk. If in transit or arriving someplace, we sometimes use lockers in train stations, etc. Some lockers (e.g., in Taiwan) are fairly sophisticated with limited access, one-time passwords, and obvious security cameras.
Some places have unique scams (e.g., Bangkok's ~The Grand Palace is closed today, I can take you someplace else~), some places are notorious for pickpockets (#64 Bus in Rome). It is worth doing a search for Risks or Scams or paying attention to safety info in TripAdvisor and similar sites.

It is worth getting an ATM card which reimburses all transaction fees, such as: https://www.businessinsider.com/persona ... ank-review

Other: amazon.com/ExOfficio-Give-N-Go-Boxer-Brief-2-Pack ExOfficio quick drying underwear is all we use for travel - wear one and wash every night in sink.

Other: https://petergreenberg.com/2021/08/21/e ... t-21-2021/ the portion with Mileage Maniac's Steve Belkin is interesting. Okay I am guilty of confirmation bias here.

Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive, and worth it if you plan to do anything risky at all (and want evacuation insurance). But honestly, we normally rely on our normal HMO and self insure for typical apartment and hotel trips.
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2005
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

https://www.icelandair.com/vacations/ci ... lsrc=aw.ds

Above is the type of deal I'd love to jump on without worrying about school and work schedules...
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
FrugalFed
Posts: 212
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:40 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by FrugalFed »

Best advice I have heard on this is Clark Howard's: find a dirt-cheap airfare, then decide what you will do at that destination. Eventually, you will see the world.

Scott's Cheap Flights is a great website for this, and it's worth paying for his premium subscription if you plan to travel a lot.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 12473
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by ResearchMed »

What will you be doing about health care costs?

It may not cost much in some places, but it also may not be free.
And the quality may not be what you are accustomed to, depending upon where you are.
Other places, it will be fine, but again, perhaps not inexpensive. It depends.

RM
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Jazztonight
Posts: 1053
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:21 am
Location: Lake Merritt

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Jazztonight »

First of all, don't worry about starting "late." It's not too late at all.

I didn't do any travel out of the country until I was about 40. In the last 30 years I've seen a LOT of the world. It's a big place.

I'd recommend that you start a "wish list." Where do you really want to visit? For me, it was the Galapagos, Mexico, Spain, Rio, Israel, and Buenos Aires. So I made it a point to see those places. My wife wanted to travel to Paris & London. So we visited there.

Train travel works well. I took the CN (Canadian National) from Montreal to Vancouver by myself, and it was terrific. I did not get a sleeper car, and met terrific people on the train and off. I also travelled solo, round trip from Calif. to NY on two different Amtrak routes. Amtrak has several different plans where you can travel within a given number of weeks and certain "legs" for a fixed price. You see a lot of the US, which is fantastic (e.g. Glacier National Park).

Don't disparage cruises--there are lots of singles on specific cruises and you can see many interesting places.

Finally, OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) and Road Scholar make it easy to travel and leave a lot of the decisions to the pros.

Enjoy! (And don't be afraid--most people are kind, generous, and friendly.)
Last edited by Jazztonight on Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2005
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: How to best travel for cheap?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

ResearchMed wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:38 pm What will you be doing about health care costs?

It may not cost much in some places, but it also may not be free.
And the quality may not be what you are accustomed to, depending upon where you are.
Other places, it will be fine, but again, perhaps not inexpensive. It depends.

RM
I get concern about continuing healthcare, meds, doc visits etc. However, I chuckle at the healthcare costs concern (given how fragile and expensive US healthcare is). Most tourist friendly countries have excellent systems. Either public or affordable private. I'd guess travel insurance is affordable traveling outside of the US too.
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
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