Why Jessica is Never Going to Ireland With Her Boyfriend But You Can Realize Your Dreams to Go Anywhere

By Nomadic Matt | Published May 3rd, 2012

go anywhere you desire in thailand“Your job sounds like the most exciting job in the world,” the cute blond girl — let’s call her Jessica — said to me. Jessica had just overheard a conversation with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and they were peppering me with questions about my job and lifestyle. People I meet usually do, and I’ve gotten used it.

“He has the best job,” replied my friend.

“So, can you get me to Ireland cheap? I really want to go.”

“Sure,” I replied. “Tell me about your trip.”

Normally when I’m asked about these things, I talk a little bit about my travel guides section, hand over my business card, and tell the person to e-mail me. On my free time, I don’t want to turn into someone’s travel agent. But this was a good excuse to talk to a pretty face longer.

“My boyfriend (doh!) and I want to go to Ireland in the summer but we don’t know how to afford it.”

“Well, the first thing you should do is go home, and each of you should sign up for a travel-related credit card, get 50 thousand miles as a sign-up bonus, and use them for a free flight. That’s step one.” I said.

“Wait! You get miles for signing up for a credit card!? Really?” Jessica said.

“Yeah, I’ve used these bonuses to get over 400,000 miles just on American Airlines alone. I fly first class with free miles all the time.” I said.

As our conversation continued for a bit longer, Jessica was amazed at all the traveling I’ve done. “You are either rich or get paid a lot of money,” she said to me. “Nope,” I told her. “You just need $50 dollars a day, which works out to $18,000 per year.”

“Oh, that’s too much money. I don’t have that.” she said.

So I broke it down for her and had her think about her own expenses and spending habits, and she soon realized that for more money per year, she does a lot less.

“Wow! I never thought about it that way,” an astonished Jessica told me.

I gave the girl my card and wished her well. As she walked away, I told my friends, “That girl is never going to Ireland.”

After years of talking to people about travel, I can tell when people are serious. My friend’s friend who wrote down the name of companies and websites over a beer was serious. Jessica? She’s not going to Ireland with her boyfriend anytime soon.

Why?

Because while she was intrigued by all the tips I was giving her, she wasn’t ready to implement them, not even for a vacation.

She is trapped.

See, the travel industry is insidious. It shows you ads like this:

Ads like this create the idea that travel is a luxurious escape from the tedious nature of our lives. And to get to that fabulous place where fun awaits you, we have to pay for it. It’s amazing marketing, even if it is a bit evil. Magazines show high-price ads, resorts, and tours. Even budget magazine hotel “deals” are $100 dollars per night. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound budget to me! The whole industry colludes to reinforce this image that travel is a luxury that can only be rarely afforded.

So what happens? Bombarded by all of these ads, we assume it is the norm. “This is what you have to spend when you go traveling,” we think. Maybe one day, you’ll find a good deal but you’re still spending thousands for even a quick trip to Ireland.

And no matter how may tips or tricks I lay out there, they are too hard to believe. Jessica might be intrigued, she might be interested, but she won’t commit. Because the weight of everything she has learned over the years is too great for me to break through. It seems just seems too fantastical to her. Like it can’t be real — and if it is, it’s unattainable for the average person.

The countryside of Ireland

This happens for two reasons:

For starters, people like the path of least resistance. And my way requires more effort. You have to be your own travel agent. It’s a lot more work – I spend a few hours booking flights, doing research, and comparing deals. But you know what’s easier? Going online and picking the first deal you see, packing, and setting off on your trip. The path of least resistance is usually the most followed.

Secondly, there’s no frame of reference. People have no experience with my way.  I’m just a stranger on the bus. I’m just a guy at a bar and no matter how logical my argument is, Jessica will still be skeptical. Because she has no proof that this works. To Jessica, I could be selling a Ponzi scheme. But since everyone takes trips the easy way, she knows it, she understands it, and she’ll do it too.

But the girl who took notes?  Since I’m a friend of a friend, I come with trust built-in. My friend has vouched for me and my ways. She is far more likely to go up, look up what I said, read my site, and book a trip using my methods.

If you are on this website, you’ve probably overcome both of these barriers. Why do I have “featured in” all over this site? So people can see that my advice has been vouched for.  In the age of faceless Internet sites, trust is the most important thing out there.  Jessica has no reason to disbelieve me — but she has no reason to believe me, either.

If you are from Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or some other country where people travel a lot, you’ve probably met people who have traveled around the world, thus you know this idea isn’t just for the rich – it is for everyone.

No matter how many posts I write about fear, chasing your dreams, or about how tomorrow will never come, the truth of the matter is that I’m mostly fighting a losing battle.

Even with my friends.

The Canals of Amsterdam

My friend Joe has been dying to go to Amsterdam since I’ve known him. He loves to smoke weed and gamble and there’s both weed and good poker in Amsterdam.  Every summer when I go to Europe, I say “Joe, come with me.” He says “I’m busy.”  Last year, he quit his job. Did he come with me? Nope. In fact, I had to physically be there while he applied for his passport to get him to do it. So while Joe overcame barrier #2, he needed to overcome barrier #1.

The old way of thinking is so ingrained into people’s heads, no matter how much I and others like me can prove that travel is affordable.

Which is why I know Jessica so well.  Because her story is like so many others I’ve encountered over the years. I’ve seen it happen so many times before that based on the conversations I’ve had, I can just tell. I know how committed people are to travel when I speak to them.

Maybe Jessica will prove me wrong and take that trip — but I’d bet she doesn’t.

The best ways to save money while traveling won’t even register with her because they will be too foreign, too unreal.

Nomadic Matt’s 16 Step Plan to Realizing Your Dreams

living the dream in Sedona
As I reflected on my encounter with Jessica, I realized that if I was going to send someone to Ireland, I needed to make it easy. I needed to hold someone’s hand through the process as much as I needed to inspire them to go.

I don’t want to listen to people any longer as they tell me how amazing my job/life/way of being is. I don’t want people to tell me they will do it tomorrow or there is some bill that needs to be paid. I often feel like I’m banging my head against a wall screaming “YOU CAN DO THIS!” but no one listens.  And I realized it’s because I’ve never made it easy for the Jessicas and Joes of the world.

I only needed a slight push to travel the world. Jessica and Joe need a shove.

They need a plan.

And so I have created this step-by-step process on how to turn your dream into reality.

Step 1 – Decide where you want to go
A lot of people talk about travel without naming where they want to visit – they talk vaguely about places. Picking a place is utterly important. It helps you plan better and makes your trip more concrete. It’s a lot easier to say “I am going to Paris” than say “I’m going somewhere in Europe.” You need a goal to work towards.

Step 2 – Plan how long you’ll be away
How much does it cost to travel? I don’t know  – how long are you going away for? You can’t figure out how much you need to save if you haven’t decided on how long you’ll be there. Every place in the world is different.

These two are important first steps because you can’t know how much you need for your trip if you don’t know where you want to go and for how long. When I planned my original round the world trip, I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit and how long I wanted to be there. You don’t need to know the exact dates you will be in each place, but you should have a rough idea.

Step 3 – Determine what kind of vacation you want
Budget travel, backpacking, luxury trip, or a honeymoon – because you’re going to plan differently for each. You can travel the world on $50 dollars a day, but not every destination is equal and every type of travel requires a different budget.

Step 4 – Research costs
Research how much your destination costs at the style of travel you want so that you can create an estimate of how much money you need for your trip. You can begin with my travel guide section or simply go buy a guidebook. All you want to know here is a rough daily estimate. This way you know how much you need for your trip so you can determine the best way to save that amount.

Step 4 – Determine your expenses
Write down all your expenses. Now that you know where you want to go and how much you need, now you need to save. By writing down all your expenses you can determine where you are spending money and how you can cut back.

Step 5 – Start saving money
Follow my list of 20 ways to cut your expenses to watch your bank balance grow. Put a number to how much you need. For example, if you need $2,000 dollars for your trip that is in 8 months, that means you only need to save $8.33 USD per day. Doesn’t that make that larger number more attainable? Couldn’t you find a way to save $8 USD per day?  Here are some featured tips:

  • Cut the coffee – That daily coffee costs you $150 per month ($5 per coffee). At $1,800 USD per year, that’s two months in Southeast Asia. What’s more important – your daily cup of Joe or getting to spend two more months on the beaches of Thailand or exploring the jungles of Borneo in Malaysia?
  • Learn to cook – We all need to eat but restaurants are getting quite expensive these days. Even with this recession, coming back to the US I’ve noticed that food prices are a lot higher than they used to be. I learned to cook while in college (a skill that has helped me ever since) and before I left, I cut down my eating out to two times per week. Every other meal was cooked. I cooked dinner and then used the leftovers to eat lunch, thus saving more money.
  • Lose the car – Cars cost a lot of money between insurance, repairs, and filling your tank with gas (Current average price: $4 USD per gallon). Learn to love the bus, take the subway, or walk. It took me longer to get to work using public transportation but you’ll find that you don’t really need a car as much as you think. I understand that this tip may not be feasible for everyone, especially those in smaller towns that don’t have a good public transportation system, but a good alternative is to sell your car and buy a cheaper used car.
  • Get rid of cable – In the age of Hulu and free (and legal) streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending $50 USD per month on cable television.
  • Sign up for travel newsletters – No one likes to clutter up their inbox, but by signing up for mailing lists from airlines and travel companies, you’ll be able to get updates about all the last-minute or special deals that are happening. I would have missed out on a round trip ticket to Japan for $700 USD (normally $1,500) if it wasn’t for the American Airlines mailing list.

Step 6 – Get a rewards credit card
Get a travel credit card. While you’re working to save money, get a travel credit card so you can use those sign-up bonuses that I told Jessica about to get free flights. I have accumulated over 600,000 free miles this way and despite all the cards I’ve acquired, my credit score is still 770. Yet you don’t need a lot of cards – you just need one. Do this the moment you decide you want to travel. Don’t wait – waiting equals lost miles.

Step 7 – Get your passport.
If you don’t already have your passport, apply for one right away. The process only takes a month but you can’t book an overseas flight without your passport number.

Step 8 – Check for last minute deals
Before you hit purchase on your flight, check for deals you might have missed. You may dream of Paris but maybe there are great deals to Berlin right now. Maybe you can get a 7 day cruise for 70% off, a package deal to Hawaii for the price of your flight to Paris, or 50% off sailing trips around Greece.

While it may not be your first choice, it can be a good way to save in the long run. I always look for deals. It’s a big world, and there are lots of places I want to see.

My favorite sites for deals:

If you find something, adjust your travel plans accordingly. If not, continue on — but it pays to look.

Step 9 – Book your flight
After you have used your travel credit card and received your sign up bonus, use your miles to book your flight. It is harder to use miles these days due to less availability, so you want to book early to make sure you get your available flight.

Step 10 – Book your accommodation
If you have a set schedule, there is no reason to wait If you are going on a long-term trip, book just the first few days. Once you know the dates you’ll be in your destination, there is no real reason not to find a place to stay. My view is that waiting will just lead to you losing your top picks.

Love hotels? They won’t save you money, but you can sign up for some hotel credit cards and get free rooms, too. Marriott has a great rewards card whose sign-up bonus is equal to one week’s free stay.  Starwood’s AMEX card is wonderful too, but the spending threshold in order to get the points bonus is higher.

The following booking sites offer the best rates for accommodation:

Alternative: Contact people on hospitality websites like Couchsurfing and ask if they would be willing to host you. Moreover, you can also consider apartment rental sites like Airbnb or Wimdu.

Step 11 – Plan your activities
Sketch out the major activities you want to enjoy and how much they cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can ensure you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities.

Step 12 – Sell your stuff
If you are going on a long-term trip (6 months or more), sell your stuff in order to earn extra money for your trip. Start doing this about 60 days before you leave. Sites like Gumtree, Amazon, and Craigslist can help you do so.

If you aren’t going away long-term, skip this step. If you are going away long-term but want to keep your stuff, move it to a friend’s house or keep it in storage. A good storage company in the U.S. is Public Storage and starts at $50 USD per month.

Step 13 – Automate your bills
Get rid of your mail, go paperless, and set up online bill payment for your recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any overseas. If you are still going to get paper mail, use a service like Earth Class Mail. (If you are going on a two-week trip, you don’t really need to do this and you can skip this step, too.)

Step 14 – Tell your credit card companies you’ll be traveling
No matter how long you’ll be gone, it is a good idea to let your card companies know you will be overseas,  that way any transactions that come up aren’t flagged as fraud and your card is less likely to be blocked. There’s nothing worse than having to sit on the phone with your credit card company instead of enjoying your vacation.

Step 15 – Pack
Pack for your trip. Here’s a suggested packing list.

Step 16 – Go have fun
Go on your trip and have fun! Head to the airport, board your plane (don’t forget your passport), and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

(You can download this checklist here and put it on your refrigerator to refer back to.)

Using these 16 steps, you can break your travel planning into small, actionable tasks. I’m a planner – I like lists. I like knowing what I have to do. Not everyone is like that – lots of people can simply keep a mental note. But no matter what type of person you are, for the vast majority of people that dream of travel, part of the reason it doesn’t become a reality is because it also seems like this unmanageable task.

I think people know that there are plenty of ways to travel inexpensively but they also don’t know how to manage it — and when you tell them how to accomplish it, it all just seems too good to be true. So people fall back to the simple method of “let’s just go to Expedia” and book a trip, which they spend more money –  and the cycle repeats itself.

But there is no need to be like that girl in the bar. Go to your Ireland. Once you understand just a few secrets about travel, a trip becomes simple and easy – whether you are on a year-long trip around the world, or a week-long trip to Paris.

All you need to do is walk through these steps and out your door.

comments 109 Comments

I like Jessica. If it weren’t for Jessica, half of all travel bloggers wouldn’t be in business.

Jokes aside, way to break it down. Can definitely relate to not wanting to hear how “amazing” my life of travels is when the truth is many steps (and more importantly, sacrifices) were made to get to this point. I know and have met lots of Jessicas and Johns -we’ll call them Johns- and I’d say it’s Step(s) 4 that probably 95% of them won’t get past.

Great post! It just takes that first step to realize you don’t need to be a millionaire to travel.

GREAT post Matt. I have a few friends to share this with….

gabal

Too bad most useful of this advices are USA-centric and can’t translate to my situation. I was similarly disappointed with “20 ways to cut your expenses”. I was already doing all of things that are available in my country and only thing I haven’t done on my list was couch surfing. We don’t have credit cards with free miles around here and with my current pay it would take me a little under 3 years to gather 18000 $ you mentioned to “Jessica”.
However, me and my girlfriend absolutely love traveling and whenever we have two coins to rub together we spend them on a city break or some other always too-short trip. I’m really jealous when I see people from richer countries who manage to travel around the world or for “insane” time periods on a budget they consider small and which is astronomical to me.
However, this means I have to plan really well to manage some of my trips and for me even the process of planing and discovering what to see, where to stay and how to get there is fun. The other day I spent hours trying to find out the cheapest way to get to New Orlenas for Mardi Gras just for fun. I can’t afford trans-continental vacation in near future but it is on my bucket list and I was enjoying myself for a few hours just doing a bit of creative daydreaming.

But just you wait, one day – no matter when me and my darling will walk on top of the Great Wall of China hand in hand even if it takes me years to save up for that trip!

Jesica

Where are you from? I imagine Chile because of your profile picture. I’m from Argentina, so I feel the same, saving for a world trip is hard for ous too with our exchage rate and inflation.

The only extra advice I can offer, if you have the flexibility, is to check out airlines’ discount trips often. I was able to travel from Bs As to Madrid last March for around 1000 dollars with Aerolíneas Argentina, which was advertised as a “special discount”. When I checked the fare now, for June o July, it was around 2500 dollars. Big difference.

Also if you’re relatively young you might want to look into Work and Travel (or Working Holiday) programs in the U.S. New Zealand or Canada.

gabal

I’m from Croatia and low-fare airlines are the reason I managed to travel as much as I did. I know of working holiday programs but strict visa requirements (and now age) meant I couldn’t get the position there.
The thing is – traveling is an addiction to me and I never feel like I travel nearly as much as I would have liked.

Mathieu

I know it’s an old comment and I don’t know the details of your life, but one idea would be to to go a country where you speak the local language (such as the UK) to find a job with better pay there, and until you find one you could use WWOOF. And then it’s a matter of cutting your expenses as much as possible. Then again I must say I’ve tried going to the UK to find a job and didn’t find any (though I poorly looked) and I’ve never tried wwoofing but I’ve heard it’s great.

Also, people, always remember: Hitchhiking & Couchsurfing. Busking too if you have some sort of skill that could be used to entertain people.

Andrew

Gabal,
When it comes to getting to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I’m not sure if you checked out flying into other cities such as Miami or Atlanta that are much larger airports than New Orleans. You should then be able to find a ride on craigslist of someone driving from one of these cities to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Usually when I rideshare I just split the gas bill with whomever is in the car. I believe the India House Hostel in NOLA is 25/night/person. There is also a “campsite” with a shuttle to the French Quarter that was even cheaper called Ponchatrain Landing.

gabal

Thanks for the tips, I have just returned from a short trip to Florence where my favorite band performed a concert so Mardi Gras 2013 is out of question. I was looking for a cheapest way to get from Europe to the USA and found some really good deals for Miami. It was a planing exercise, I want to do it one day so I just tried to see roughly how much money I would have to save to be able to do it.

Jason

Gabal,
I want to thank you for opening my eyes to a different perspective. We in N.A. take for granted many things and sometimes forget that others may not be afforded the same luxuries that we enjoy.
I’ve never thought about what others can and can not do to save for traveling and took it for granted that everyone just saved enough.

Gabal,
Thanks for the perspective. You bring up a really good point. What could the options be for working abroad? I know a lot of long-term travelers work on cruise ships.

NomadicMatt

While it is true that other countries in the world might not have all the bonuses we do in America, the main thrust of this article – that it’s a myth travel is too expensive – holds true even in Croatia. The 16 point plan is a checklist for people to better organize their trip and to break it down into small, actionable items.

In regards to the 18,000 figure, yes salaries around the world are different and not everyone can come up with 18,000 in a year. Not everyone gets paid that in a year. But that doesn’t mean travel is unaffordable – you can simply go to cheaper destinations if you don’t have as much money. I was using it with her as a basis when comparing to her salary.

Every country is different as you pointed it.

Nina

Zdravo Gabal! My friend from NYC always travels via Dusseldorf as he says the flights are cheapest between these countries. You could look into that maybe, then make your way to New Orleans from there.
I’m originally from Croatia and it seems it is coming up in the list of top destinations in people’s minds. That means that there will be more flights to/from there which will hopefully drive down the prices for you.
Good luck xx

And great post Matt. Even those of us who do travel a lot need some reminding!

Gabal – I’m not sure where you live specifically in Croatia, but it my experience in Dubrovnik led me to believe that as a port and tourist city (like New Orleans), the major hotel prices are about the same as in New Orleans. A standard beer in Dubronik was about $3 at a small bar, where in the US you might pay $4 in the same setting. Your costs can go up or down from there, depending on how much you pay for lodging and food. New Orleans is not expensive like other cities of its size in the US. However, if you plan to go to Mardi Gras, you need to plan early to get good rates. Otherwise, you will be paying prices that get increased the as the Mardi Gras date comes closer.

Flying into Miami, as others mention, makes sense. Then you could take a bus from Miami to New Orleans – it will take about 14 hrs driving time. Your largest expense will be getting there. If you plan it out, and split the cost of lodging with other people once you are in New Orleans, that will reduce your lodging costs.

gabal

Thanks for the tips about New Orleans, I’m writing it all down for future reference. Dubrovnik isn’t really a good representative about realistic prices in Croatia – especially in Old Town where prices are overinflated. You can get a decent meal elsewhere for a price you pay for coffee on Stradun.

Excellent steps, but my difficulty in applying them is that a lot of the savings tips are things we (husband and I) already do as part of our lifestyle.

No car or cable… we cook and drink coffee at home… and our entire house is smaller than my parents’ basement, so we don’t have any extra stuff to sell. Also, we live in Brazil, and let’s just say wages are not as generous.

Now, I still believe we can do it – but instead of trying to scrimp and save, I’m trying to focus on creating a sustainable semi-passive online income stream… which will be better in the long run, anyway. However, some days I wish it was as simple as “cut those daily lattes” :-(

Bloody brilliant! I have been reading your blog for about six months now and I am all set to take my first European trip leaving 4 weeks from today. Originally, a huge group of friends wanted to go and showed interest. In the end, 3 of us are taking the trip and it’s been an adventure in itself planning it. We are definitely going budget. Not so much because we have to, but more because we want too. We’re looking to real see and feel the culture of the places we’re heading. Only 4 weeks to go!

NomadicMatt

Have fun! Europe in the summer is wonderful and great fun.

This is brilliant Matt. Never thought about it before but you’re right – society conditions us to think that world travel is difficult, expensive and you have to pay for it.
But also, I think if there’s a will there’s a way. And for many people they like the idea of traveling rather than actually leaving their comfort zone.

Other useful tips:
Read FlyerTalk.
If you are in Canada, like me, there are credit card bonuses too, but not so generous as the United States.
Cutting back expenses is good, but it’s also really helpful to do extra work to increase your income.
Figure out ways to do cheap and free cultural events at your destination. Some places are easier than others.
Make sure you don’t defeat the purpose of your trip by penny-pinching. E.g., if you stay at a place 2 hours away from the city you want to visit to save money, then you will lose a lot of time. Figure out the per-hour cost of your trip and ensure you are making good cost-benefit decisions. Obviously if you have a long trip, you can relax somewhat on this front.

NomadicMatt

Flyertalk is a great site for finding deals. Thanks for bringing them up.

Colleen

One of your best posts ever! = ) So good and so true.

NomadicMatt

I’m making up for the previous one! :)

Jill

You always know how to say it. I am addicted to travel and am getting ready to embark my next adventure, a year (at least) in SE Asia. I share the same mind-set and it is really great to read your articles since you express your opinions so thoughtfully— I am sending this to my friends…Thanks for writing :)

Aaron

Where can I sign up for a credit card that gives me a 50,000 mile bonus? I can’t seem to find any with such a good opening offer.

NomadicMatt

Check out thepointsguy.com as he has the latest listing of all the best credit card offers.

I recently signed up for Capital One Venture Rewards, no annual fee card. While not 50,000 bonus miles, it was 10,000 bonus after you spend 1,000 in 3 months. (which was done in 1 month easily, once you start putting everything on your card and not paying by debit). Also a great tip for gaining miles that I didn’t see mentioned….. Look at the companies your credit card has partnerships with. Capital One literally works with 1000’s of companies. When I purchased my new contacts, they have a partnership with 1800-contacts, where if you buy them through the site, you get a bonus 10 miles per dollar! included in the cards 1.25/mile for every dollar. 180.00/worth of contacts = 1800 + 225 = 2025 miles! I’ve already racked up enough for a free domestic flight in 2 months. (bonus included in that though)

Great stuff… Thanks!!!!

Matt, can’t thank you enough for your blog. I’m going to spend some serious time going through it. Again, thank you so very much.

NomadicMatt

Your welcome. Let me know if I can help you with anything!

Oh, gosh. The world is filled with Jessicas, isn’t it? Who better to make me feel cool for going… anywhere ;). In all honesty though, I agree with you completely, and these are some great tips. I don’t doubt you’ve inspired a few Jennifers throughout your travels.

See you soon!

NomadicMatt

I think you are a more of Jennifer.

Great tips Matt! I am definitely on board with all of these. However, there is one thing that I took away from this that maybe other people didn’t care as much about – how travel is marketed to us.

You are completely right. Because ads and commercials promote a hotel as being $100 a night as a good deal, this becomes the standard for many people without realizing that you can do it cheaper. However, the biggest challenge may not be the cost but the perception and comfort level of those who want to travel.

Saving money and cutting costs are practical things people can do regardless of their motives for doing so. However, how many people are willing to research, work hard, and even trade a little comfort for the reward of travel? This may be the most daunting task of all for people like Jessica and others.

For me, how cheaply can you travel is part of the issue. We need to change the perception of what ‘budget travel’ is (and it’s not what we see advertised on TV and in magazines). How much effort and sacrifice (in time and comfort) are you willing to make to see the world?

NomadicMatt

Budget travel exists all over the world. It’s just enough to be comfortable but not anymore. But those places who offer it don’t have large marketing budgets like the big chains.

Your site is the best for real, practical travel tips! It can be completely frustrating trying to reason with people who think they can’t afford to travel, yet they eat out or shop a lot–I have these kinds of conversations with my friends all the time. It’s all about your priorities!

I love it how you break it all down to manageable bits for people who haven’t travelled much. I never needed much of a push to go travelling, but I know so many people who think my life is one of luxury because I travel so much. The truth is I live on a lot less $ than most people I know. Thanks for this fantastic post!

NomadicMatt

Me too. I spent far less money traveling the world than Jessica did living at home.

This is a fantastic post. Seriously one of the best guides I have read for breaking it down step by step.

My boyfriend and I are location independent and travel full time (I’m a freelance writer). We have met sooo many Jessicas and sometimes they drive me crazy. We explain exactly how we do what we do, but some people still don’t get how it is possible or think that we are somehow performing a magic trick in front of their eyes. It annoys me when people think that we must be super rich, because we are not! We don’t spend any more money than other people our age who live in one place. I also hate it when people say “You’re so lucky!” because it’s not luck that got us into this lifestyle, it was creativity, planning, a willingness to go against the norm, and hard work.

However, sometimes you meet someone who understands what you are saying and you actually inspire them to make it happen. We Couchsurfed with a guy once who really really wanted to travel and listened intently to our stories about our working holiday in New Zealand. He wrote stuff down, looked at websites and guess what… three months later he was on a flight to Auckland! It made us sooo happy to know that we had given him the knowledge and the encouragement that he needed to make the leap.

NomadicMatt

That’s great! He clearly was not a Jessica :)

Ohh pothead Joe..so lazy!

I know many people like Jessica, but never really thought of it this way. It’s so true the way media portrays travel. People think it’s just for the wealthy, when practically anyone can do it. I really enjoyed reading this! And love the tips… If I meet a Jessica, I’ll be referring her to this post!

Nowadays travel became really easy and, if you live in “first world country” as US or any West European country, chance there are you will SAVE money while you are abroad, as long as you choose wisely your destination (South East Asia or South American, for instance).

Anyway, many people like to talk a lot about traveling, but it’s just an attitude.

Traveling is not for everybody: it takes effort to plan and move outside your comfort zone.

I like the example of Joe overcoming barrier #2 but not barrier #1. I’ve talked some friends of mine into getting a passport because they said they ‘wanted to travel’, but even with that document in their hand they still haven’t gotten around to it…. Sigh.

NomadicMatt

Sometimes, you have to hold their hands!

Vivek

great post matt. i just returned from my 15month trip. i took the leap and it was incredible. i cant wait to do it again.

Parm

Great post Matt. I agree with what you’re saying about the travel industry and the way travel is marketed. I think it comes down to time vs money in almost all situations. Either you spend more time researching or spend more money. For my honeymoon in Thailand, we researched and researched and even went to a travel company that sells “off the beaten path” travel, yet when we researched the same hotels and budget flights directly, it came to a $1000 cheaper than what we were quoted.

All this took time, lots of research online, hair pulling and watching fares with a close eye and there were times when I wanted to give in and just book something, but luckily my husband values a good deal and we were able to use that extra $1000 enjoying our time in Thailand.

gabal

Last time I went to a trip with an agency was in 2006 and vowed not to do it again if I can help it. I always take the price of travel-package as a challenge, if the agency can sell the package at that price and still turn a profit it means there is room to travel at the same destination for much less then that. Usually I’m right.

NomadicMatt

It does take more time but, like you, I would rather have more money and time in the destination.

Great post loaded with wonderful advice and I’ll be using a lot of them for next winter’s trip to Costa Rica and more.

Fantastic tips Matt. I’ve had a friend who has been telling me we should travel together somewhere in the world for the past 6 years. Now that I left and traveled to New Zealand, it gave him a little encouragement, but he is still too ingrained in his lifestyle in the US.

Also, right before my trip to New Zealand, I was having a conversation with a friend about the trip, and trying to tell them they could travel since they were dying to. Instead, they turned down every tip I had and determined I must be running from life.

Some people just can’t see it…but these tips hopefully will help give people a guideline!

This is my favorite post of yours yet!

It’s true. Jessica will not go to Ireland. Too bad for her.

NomadicMatt

It’s her loss.

Beverley

Great post Matt, probably one of my favourites so far. Every time I come here I get further inspiration for travelling, and making better use of my time and money. It fills me with confidence that anything is possible (travel or otherwise) if you want it badly enough.

NomadicMatt

That’s great to hear. I’m glad you are traveling better! That makes me happy to know!

thanks for sharing the fantastic tips Matt , really you inspire me

Totally agree with your thoughts on “budget” travel. Most people think budget travel means getting a hotel room that’s under $100 a night. We think that’s EXTRAVAGENT travel!

Also your “Learn to Cook” comment. So true! Restaurants are simply overpriced to us, and in Canada with the taxation it is even worse. We like our own cooking!

I have read a lot of travel blogs with comparable information but one tip I rarely see is cutting out alcohol. I don’t care which part of the world you live in but alcohol is expensive and completely unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, a glass of wine or aguardiente once in a while is fine but you’d be amazed how much extra money you will have in your account after a few months avoiding bars, clubs and alcoholic beverages.

NomadicMatt

I would agree and on my 20 tips post, I do include that.

I love the credit card tips and always get excited when I see other people doing it. I’m not sure why I waited so long to get a points based airlines card. Like you, I got 50,000 for opening up, and I pay my rent with the credit card and get 1,100 miles just for paying something I always do. Over two years, that’s a free plane ticket that would be equal to about one months rent. Add in two years worth of free checked bag fees and two lounge passes per year, and you make me a happy traveler.

I should mention that I plan on opening two more cards in the next year. One currently has a 40,000 mile bonus plus free foreign transaction fees and another should earn about $750 cash just for signing up. Add in my fiancee doing the same thing, and we’ll have over 300,000 miles combined, three credit cards each, and about $1,500 in rewards cash to spend.

Rachel

Please share what reward cards these are… thanks!!

NomadicMatt

You can find the latest deals here: http://thepointsguy.com/top-deals/

Red

Hey Matt. I’ve always been skeptical about travel credit cards because of annual fees, high interest rates, I’m not a credit card type person, etc. But, do you know if the points or miles from an airline credit card are valid on other airlines in an alliance? For example, can American Airlines credit card points be used on other airlines in the One World Alliance? Great Post.

NomadicMatt

These cards are just like any other card – they can be used anywhere. The points go to your American Airlines balance. They can be used just like any other airline mile you earn from any source.

In terms of interest rates, I don’t even look at those as I pay off my balance every month and thinks it’s financially foolish not to. Don’t spend more than your earn!

Matt, my eyes lit up when you mentioned Agoda in your blog!! I started working for them a year ago when they finally opened an office here in the US in Chicago. We were covering the New York City market and it got big enough, we opened an office here now in January. Crazy to see that!! Thanks for the support!

As one that lives and breathes travel, I completely agree about these people that just talk about travel and never do anything….. I can’t even get my friends to come up to New York City for a weekend (I’m from Philadelphia). Trying to get a couple of them together for a trip to Vegas or Europe is unheard of… I just don’t understand it. Also, my parents have never been out of the country (besides Canada and Mexico) and my mom is retiring this year. It’s like MOM, pick anywhere in the world and me and my brother will pay for it. Just get out there!! People don’t realize how easy it is.

Though my traveling has subsided a bit, I try and do 2 big trips a year with a couple little ones in between. I’d still like to do an around the world trip and think even when I’m 30 it could still happen (27 now) Also, it would be maybe a 6-8 month trip instead of extended because I’ve already gotten to a lot of the places I’ve wanted to do. Always checking up on your site, though I don’t comment much, I’ve tried making my own travel blog, but it is hard! Keep up the good work and helping inspire people about getting out experiencing the world.

Liv Perkosky

I have friends who are more like Jessica. My husband and I travel a lot and they all think we have A LOT of money. When we tell them that we do a “budget travel,” they don’t believe.

I opened a separate bank account for travel purposes only and I require myself to put an amount there every month and some spare money. We’ve never used a travel agent, we do it all by ourselves. Most of our stays are in hostels/guesthouses. We eat where the locals eat. We love taking the bus, the train, etc. even if sometimes we end up being lost. Lol.

NomadicMatt

This is a travel website and as such provides tips on how to travel and reasons why you should. It’s the focus so of course I am going to focus on those things and push people to travel. I get that travel is not for everyone and I totally understand that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a job, getting married, and staying put. I have tons of friends who do it. There’s nothing wrong with getting on a cruise either.

My belief in travel is nothing but forced. My grapples with being a nomad are personal and relate to how my life is changing and my thoughts on those changes. It helps me come to terms with entering a new stage in my life. But my belief in the beauty of travel is not forced.

While I completely agree with you that travel is not for everyone, I think I am right about Jessica. She interrupted a conversation I was having with a friend and the first thing out of her mouth was “I want to go to Ireland really badly. Please tell me how to do it cheaply.” I’m pretty sure she wanted to go. The brainwashing statement relates not simply to her but the general perception in America that travel is expensive.

Matt, these are great tips. I think a lot of what you’re saying could be applied to other things in life, not just travel. Anyway. I fly a lot in Europe and have signed up for Vueling’s Points plan, which I recommend for anyone who is based in Europe. You mentioned American Air, is that the best choice for miles? Thanks!

Hey Matt,
I haven’t read your plan yet (I will later for interests sake) but I couldn’t agree more with the first half of the post. It’s always sad to realise that when you are talking to someone, they are either just too tunnel-visioned to believe what you tell them or too timid to try walking the walk themselves! Even more disappointing when family and friends just don’t understand. Oh well! We can but try. :)
@PeterParkorr

It’s a shame that it’s too late for your friend Joe as foreigners are no longer allowed to smoke weed in Amsterdam. Just goes to show that you should do things while you still have the chance. Doors are closing all the time, x

Ute

I am student, am not working, my all money is just scholarship, if i get it. I was just like Jessica, i was amazed how other people travel so much , and my elder sister traveled alone around Spain, slept in beach or in park…. And after few years she get scholarship to study China language for one year in China. And one day she write to me and my family: come to China to visit me and go around the country. At first i was amazed, it is wonderful, but in one hand i thought it is to expensive to me, it is impossible for me, maybe i just to scared to leave and do something unusual. But my brother persuade me buy the ticket and he lend money to me. It was amazing trip. I am very thankful for my sister and brother. They helped to do first steps how live at the moment and take all opportunity what live give to you. Now i live from trip to trip. My sister now live in Spain, i already visited her the 5 times. My sister now live in Spain, i visited her 5 times in two years. Was in Rome, Stockholm, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Madrid. Actually all thees trip is short time travels, but it still are wonderful unforgettable. And now some of my friend a surprised how i can leave everything (it my last year in university and i must do the ending project) buy ticket and fly. And now week ago i was in Stockholm.
So what i want to say is – what sometimes we grow up from Jessica into someone we want to be. I’m still growing up and i am happy.

I really like your money saving tips Matt. One in particular will not be easy for me, I love coffee, but you right, it does cost a lot.

Rebecca

I don’t have a job or a regular form of income and I have managed to book two holidays overseas to Sweden and Thailand (well technically my flight to Sweden was funded by my university, as I’m a student… but still!). If I can do it anyone can! It doesn’t feel real to me because it was so easy to do, both our accommodation and flights are booked and I only have $200.00 to survive for the rest of semester! I think that those barriers are hard to overcome but once you finally do, you’ll just never stop travelling!

You’re totally right, Matt – you can usually tell who’s serious, and who isn’t, when it comes to travel. I’ve learned so much from travel blogs such as your own, and others on the Blogosphere, and have gone from “it’d be AWESOME to travel round the world…one day” to currently saving for a RTW trip next year.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive – sacrificing some basic luxuries and being smart with your money can be the difference between a two week holiday or a ten month trip.

Ian [EagerExistence]

When I recently returned home from a year away, and the start of this “under $50 a day” lifestyle, all my friends sat me down over dinner and eagerly listened to me retell a few of the great experiences I had. Every single one of them said “Oh, I so want to go there …one day”.

I spent a while trying to convince them they could, but gave up. I could see they weren’t going to do a big trip. Like you said, they were impressed by the idea of it, but not one asked me a question about making it happen.

And now, fast-forward 2 months, and they are all booking their flights and tickets for 5 days to Bali for a destination wedding we are attending. I managed to hack my flights for $280 (not even that impressive… no credit card rewards), where some friends payed $400. They are also paying $50 a night for rooms, where I’m paying $8 for a hostel across the street.

I guess because they are having a holiday, they can afford to splurge. But for me, it will be the tail-end of a 5 month trip across South America. So I won’t have the budget they will have. I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me enjoying my first time in Bali, the Bucks Night, and whatever adventure activities come my way… I’ll just cut back on flights, transport, accommodation, and food.

I’m sure its going to be great fun either way.

Just found you blog Matt and find it very interesting. And like your approach to writing your post.

How long have you been blogging and how successful are you at it?

shreeraj

Your a blessed with the gift of telling the truth that immediately forces a reader to take action ! Brilliant !!

Hi Matt,
YOU’VE INSPIRED ME!!
I thought my travelling days were over as the GFC chewed up a lot of my super…….BUT……I see a light at the end of the travel tunnel thanks to your tips.

I love your blog.
Thanks for putting in all the hard work.

I totally agree with you! Man, not to mention I came from a country where backpacking is not common, Philippines. Add more interesting fact about that traditionally women are expected to stay home, get married, have kids, and take care of their husband and children. I am a crazy (or maybe interesting for some) for my way of living.

The last time I backpacked, it was Southeast Asia. Now, I would like to travel the world, with no itinerary, no time frame, and maybe no limits (I bet that’s not possible sometimes). Anyway, my point is that when I met a longtime traveller (he hasn’t been home in 4 years) I realized I want to do the same and if this guy can do this, they I can too. So, here I am and cooking my vagabonding adventure by August (not fully travelling yet, I’d have to stock up in Bangkok first and work) and from there, I will work my way through the world.

Wow, great tips here and a very extensive article…

You’ve left no stone unturned.

Honestly what it really comes down to is the way we’ve been conditioned by society. Everyone is trained to desire stability and assurance and so they jump on the 9-5 bandwagon to keep the economic gears spinning. No one is willing to take the time off work for fear of losing their jobs or of the inability to find another.

I would like nothing more than to drop everything and just travel the world (become a nomad). But much like Jessica, I am not prepared to sacrifice my education, or income. Who knows maybe I’ll get-rich-quick and I won’t have to worry about any of this!

“lose the car” – probably the best advice, it will save you a ton of money. Try biking when going to work, free work out, runs on fat not fuel, you will also feel energized during office hours. Been biking to work for about 4 months and I should have done this a long time ago. :)

Such a great post ! I am planning to make a tour of Rajasthan, India in September and am short both on time and money. Some of these tips will help me plan better. Many thanks Matt !

Kru

I managed to travel for 13 years and still learn from your posts. One thing about the credit cards though; a lot of people think it affects there credit score, which it does for a couple months. But not by much so they are definitely worth getting for the miles.

Great ways to helping you get to where you want to go. I know for some destinations it can be pricey but if there is a will there is a way.

Hey matt, I just stubled upon your blog and I must tell you are an amazing narrator. You got me hooked up and I read many of your old blogs too. Even I have imagined myself leaving everything and travelling the world,every nook and corner of it. Hope I find the courage to do it someday. Things you learn by travelling can’t be taught in any books. I don’t know if and when will I gather that courage but I am definitely following your every step. ;) Atleast each of your writings.
Keep updating your latest endeavors. :)

Patrick

I seem to have run into a problem, and I’m not sure how to get around it. Me, my wife and my son (16) want to start traveling. As I check into Visa requirements for various countries, I keep running into proof of financial means. This is sometimes 65$ per person per day of stay. In Romania this totals to be $17,550 needed for a 90 day stay.

I keep running into requirements like this and I am wondering if this “cheap travel’ thing that so many sites like this one talk about is even possible unless you have 20 grand in the bank. Why do you need cheap travel if your rich enough to have 20k in the bank, especially in today’s world where the average working person is lucky to have savings, let alone that much. It’s very frustrating and makes me think I have spend the past 6 months trying to plan our US escape for nothing.

We had planned to sell our house, and all of our belongings, list my parents as our address and after plane tickets have about 6-8k in the bank. My wife and I both work on the internet so we can generate income, but wanted to live in an inexpensive country for a while to watch our bank account grow over time.

Is this is pipe dream? Do I need to already be wealthy in order to afford to travel cheap?

Try exploring many fantastic islands in Philippines, I’m sure you will love it!

My sister is 20 and told me last night, “I want to go to Italy! That would be so much fun!”
I told her she should. She said it was too expensive.
“Not really. You just have to save up all the money you spend on coffee daily and not go out to eat as much. It is not expensive at all.”
I thought I was getting somewhere, until she said “Well.. I like coffee. And I have bills to pay. I’ll just go after I get a better job.”

Because she just does not believe that she can afford to go anywhere. My parents never did either, and still don’t, which is why they have not been abroad..

I love this post. I’m a grad student and I funded both Eurotrips mostly through babysitting. I admit I rely heavily on my credit cards while I’m away and pay them off when I’m back and working again–that helps because sometimes it’s hard to save the money up front and easier to pay it off little by little afterwards. But I don’t recommend it–I think I would’ve done a much better job sticking to a budget if I didn’t have the “safety net” of a CC. Plus, it makes it hard to save up for the next trip if I’m paying off my credit card debt first (like right now).

I have a longer trip coming up in a year and I’m definitely going to use some of your tips to prepare :).

Spencer Ennis

Thank you for the helpful articles! I would like to add a couple tips of my own that these readers may find useful. One is to compare every discrecionary expenditure to how long you can spend in a foreign country and only then decide if its worth it. Examples: Seeing a concert in your hometown or one day in Mexico at a cheap all-inclusive (that’s travelling too!); Going to a ski resort for the weekend that you’ve been to several before or 3 days to a region in Europe you have not been to yet; Buying that new jacket or keeping your old one for another year or two and using the money to go to travel to South America for 2 days….Planning costs of desired future trips and breaking it down to price per day, including all expenses, and then using this mentality will help you make wiser decisions. Remember, all the small expenditures add up too!……Another point is regarding housing expenditures. As a mortgage broker I advise all of my clients to take their lifestyles into considration before taking on housing debt. If you take on too much housing debt, you will not be able to travel as much as you want. Just because your mortgage advisor says the lenders will approve a certian amount of money for you, deosn’t mean you should take the whole amount!

Happy Travels,
SpencerEnnis.ca

Irie Girl

Thank you!!! More on how you achieved all those free miles!!!!

Kristina

What if you are having a super hard time getting past Step 1??

NomadicMatt

Focus! You will.

Awesome post. I didn’t know about the credit cards. My next trip is in May and then July, should I get the card now?
Also, have you ever tried “ita software?” It is a google site that finds the cheapest price and gives a “formulation code” which you can then give to travel agents to find a better price. I have found this more useful than the traditional “kayak” or “orbitz” which I also like.
Thanks so much for all of these tips. The first part of your post was similar to an experience I had myself. I think many people don’t really like to travel, just the idea of traveling.

NomadicMatt

Yes, I use it all the time.

Susan

Horray!! Thank you for this post. I’ve been piecing the process together from different sites, now I have it all in one place. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at finding bargains by traveling around my own mind boggling, breathtakingly beautiful country – the good ole USA. I discovered last summer that I can put a pad in the back of a Prius and camp in it – I did that at Yellowstone and Crater Lake.
I wonder if I rent a Prius overseas and do the same thing?

Phoneix

That’s exactly what i did. I put everything i own into Hong Kong Storage. Sold my house and travel China. It had been 2 years now and i don’t know if i want to go back to Hong Kong anymore

Lisa

Thanks for this post Matt! I completely agree and faced many of the same frustrations after spending 3 months volunteering in Ecuador – when I came back, my friends all said they wanted to travel somewhere but that they couldn’t do it because…..(mostly money). After telling them hundreds of times that they could (the total of my 3 month trip was $2400 that I saved while working a couple jobs and going to college), I finally realized that they didn’t really want to do it that bad. Thanks for showing me another perspective!

Em

Matt, great article. I was one of those people thought it couldn’t be done. My husband and I saved our flight miles and hotel points for 5 years though, and we spent a 2 week trip in Italy. Since then, he’s been to Tanzania. I’ve been to Ireland, and we both spent a lovely holiday in the Netherlands and Belgium. We got over the belief it has to be luxurious, 5 star, and unattainable. However, I’ve noticed with my own family there is fear of traveling abroad in general. I think the language barrier scares people. Also, I think our national news has done a pretty good job of frightening Americans, too. My mother and father have both said to me, “I’d just be afraid to go anywhere outside of the US right now.” I find this funny considering the amount of public shootings and bombings we’ve had within the last 15 yrs. –not to mention the daily crime that happens everywhere. I think our parents pass those fears to their kids, and let’s face it, people tend to go with flow and learn not to question why they do things. Thanks for reminding me that my dream of exploring the world is possible!

Hi Matt!
Thanks for 16 step plan. It’s very important for me.

Saya

This plan will be a very useful thing to check before I go to my way. The thing that bugs me I’m from Turkey. I am not even sure if we count as a European or an Asian country. We certainly are not a EU country though. And our government is formed by a bunch of thieves. We pay BIG moneys to acquire a passport for only a year. And to get a visa you must have at least 6 months free in that passport which, basicly makes every passport usable for only 6 months. While for visa we pay double or the triple of the money other travelers pay just to visit. I do save money, I do plan ahead and good, I love traveling and I am ready to commit. But sometimes it’s just harder, way harder to go to travel. Oh did I mention, if you work in a company you don’t get a vacation right for a year. So.. Did you find a job that pays you well enough for you to save up? Well.. Forget to travel for a year then. If I’m going to a long journey my plan is usually quitting the work before the road. It is not fair to live in a country that people are expected to stay at home. The reason of these barriers is to create a place where people work and spend the money inside the country, they do everything to prevent you to travel so you won’t take their precious taxes and spend it in another country.

Jian

Hi Saya,

I think we have similar problems. I am a Chinese. The problem is even we get sufficient time and money, we have to sort out visas before we go! As a Chinese, I need visa for every single country! I am currently preparing for my visa documents to go to Peru. I was told I couldn’t get my tourist visa unless I had an itinerary agreed and issued by a Peruvian travel agency! But I want to travel solo. Also, I want to learn a bit Spanish during my trip and has already contacted a language school. The school would like to provide me an invitation letter. I thought it was great and I was going to solve my problem. But hold on! Then I was told if a school issued an invitation letter for me, this letter had to be notarized in Peru and sent to me by post! I have no idea how long it would take…

Trust me, the visa things are really painful! Many Chinese people go traveling with agencies because agencies help them to get visas and group visas are normally much easier. However I love traveling solo and always apply for visas by myself.

Another problem in China is normally companies don’t offer a long annual leave. I just resigned from my job as I want a long trip. I worked for a British company but unfortunately my ex-boss, a pure English gentleman only offers us 5 days annual leave and according to Chinese labor law, it is absolutely legal.

So for me, money is not the only problem for traveling abroad.

Thanks for the encouraging post. My husband and I just returned from a year of teaching English and personal training in Japan. We thought we were ready to come back to the states, but it turns out we need to travel more. We’re working on building a life that makes traveling the world easy and accessible. Thanks for your tips!

Eric

And here I thought I was “digging in” at my current job, town and life, and looking forward to travel once or twice a year! Thanks Matt…that plan seems lame now! LOL.
All joking aside, my dream life has always been centered around travel. While I am “digging in” where I am at now, it has always been on the premise this is simply a base to operate from. I am in a position at work (a position I “created” with the boss, much to my benefit) that allows me to “vacation” anytime and as often as I choose. My mindset has always been minimalistic living to maximize available funds for travel. I also seldom buy things that are at least going to hold their value but prefer things that will increase in value were I to liquidate them. Everything has it’s time and place. When the need arises, I am never averse to liquidating for the greater cause. It’s a wonderful freedom to not feel attached to materialistic things.
Matt, thank you. I am digging in to all the tips I can find here and my plans have accelerated yet again. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…as the cliché goes. I will be tapping you for all I can, my new found friend and consultant!

Krice

I have so many Jessica’s in my life….

5 years ago I planned a 4 wk trip to backpack along the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Our tickets were dirt cheap thanks to the crash of the housing market. My husband had to quit his job and I took an unpaid “leave of absence/may never come back” . We stored all of our belongings in a storage unit rather than pay for 1 mo of rent when we could use that $$ to travel. This experience changed our life’s and my way of thinking about vacations forever. We essentially had no plans, no apt to return to, just a guide book and the stuff on our backs. It truly made me realize how little you need to travel and that people are people, the same ones everywhere. When we finally begrudgingly returned from our enlightened experience we wanted to share it with everyone, but funny part was….no one could truly understand the revelations of that trip, except my husband :) We have since vowed to do more and more trips like this one….and then life (grad school/full time jobs) get in the way.

About 2 years ago I stumbled across a blog similar to yours about a guy who used all points and $200 to go to AU and NZ for 3 wks and I was hooked, blown out of the water. I couldn’t fathom how he could do but I wanted to try. I am juvenile, amateur at best and got us a few hotel stays and free flights on some local airlines….

I have finally re-vamped my need for travel and am currently working on getting my husband a 2 year companion ticket through Sooouthwest Airlines in the US. My next goal, international airlines :) I love reading your posts about smaller destinations off the beaten path that allow us some more flexibly and actualization. As tempted as I was by the people we met in AU to become truly nomadic….One eye opener was the people who would ask us how long we were staying, and we would pridefully announce “4 weeks!” And their reaction was “that’s it?”. 4 weeks does seem pitiful when your plans entail 6 mo on a scuba boat in the Great Barrier Reef and your planning on heading to Fiji to scuba with sharks for your next 9 months of the year.

Although there are many Jessica’s in the world of travel, there are also a lot of the people taking notes in the bar, writing down tips, mentally memorizing the best, tried and true ways of the expert travelers….and we make it our own.

Mikaelo

Hi Matt, I’m a big fan of your site, your lifestyle, and your principles. One thing though, what “job” was Jessica talking about? I thought you did not have a stable one since you started travelling? Did you become a travel agent?

Brenda

One thing people forget…it does cost to travel, but it also costs SOMETHING to be at home, whether it be food, travel to and from work, etc. Turn the heat or a/c down, unplug unnecessary electronics, stop the newspaper etc. You will save a bit and every bit counts. Your point about luxury is well made. I have cruised many times….people are constantly raising their eyebrows about this. When I tell them that I book an inside cabin on the cheapest sailing of the itinerary I like, I hear “oh well, I want a balcony or a suite”. Guess what? They never go! I get the same cruise for a fraction of the price. I don’t go for the cabin, it is just a room to me. I have cruised so many times, I get many free perks so my bar bill is negligible.
Great that you are able to backpack and travel rough, I am not young enough to manage that and was not enlightened enough to try when I was!
Do you have any advice on travelling to Africa?

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