Updated: 1/13/2020 | January 13th, 2020
As an American travel writer, much of what I write about is U.S. focused. The travel credit cards, bank information, and many of the flight deals I post about are for those of us who live in the states.
At least a dozen emails a day ask “I’m not American. Will this work for me? How do I travel cheap?”
In fact, I recently had someone unsubscribe because there wasn’t enough information for Canadians.
The perceived notion that the US gets the best deals frustrates a lot of international travelers. Where are their mistake fares and credit card offers?
But you can find travel deals throughout the world — from cheap flights, to cheap buses, no-fee ATM cards, and point earning credit cards. Americans don’t have a monopoly on travel deals.
I write this blog with a global audience in mind. After all, we face the same expenses when we get to a destination. Getting there is one thing, but once we are in Tokyo, we all have to figure out how to eat, sleep, and sightsee without spending a lot of money.
It’s not as if there is an American price and a rest of the world price (or separate lines for backpackers and vacationers).*
All visitors face the same constraints no matter where they are from.
But not all methods work for all people equally.
Africa hardly ever sees flight deals, intra-South America airfare is often stupidly expensive, and outside the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, travel hacking (getting large quantities of points and miles for free travel) is not as generous, and non-fee bank cards, travel insurance, visa rules, and backpack companies vary widely by country.
It’s a big world.
But it’s not true that because someone lives in one place their information is not useful to you, especially today when most companies are global entities.
When you only hear about US flight deals, it’s easy to get frustrated and think “those lucky bastards,” but there are tons of flight deals out there:
- Middle Eastern airlines are starting to offer cheap airfare via their hubs to India and Africa.
- AirAsia offers incredible deals throughout Asia and Australia for as little as $100 per leg.
- Norwegian Airlines can get you from Asia to Europe for $500 round-trip.
- An expanding backpacker scene in South America has seen the rise of safe and cheap hop-on-hop-off buses like Peru Hop.
- LAN Airlines has many deals from South America.
There are few areas of the world that truly lack any deals (sorry, Central Asia!) and, while it’s impossible to have every deal, tip, or piece of advice work for everyone, there’s always something for someone.
What to use as a non-American
If you’re a non-American, what should you do? Where should you look? Here are the best places to find cheap flight and transportation options when you can’t find mistake fares:
- Air Asia – Offers cheap fares around Southeast Asia, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia
- Tiger Airways – Offers cheap fares from Singapore and around Australia
- Holiday Pirates – Incredible flight and vacation package website that finds mistake fares and deals for Europe-based travelers. They have a German website too.
- Busbud — Finds cheap bus routes all over the world
- Rome2rio — An amazing website that shows you all your transportation options from A to B. This site is excellent for finding cheap routes to obscure destinations.
- Norwegian Air – Incredible flight deals to and from the United States and Europe with onward deals to Bangkok
Remember that you don’t always have to go from A directly to B. You can hop around. From Australia, take AirAsia to Bangkok then hop a cheap flight on Norwegian Air to Europe. Going direct may be quicker, but it’s not always the cheapest way.
I understand the frustration. There are few ”mistake” fares originating outside the US, but that doesn’t make it impossible to fly or get somewhere cheaply. There are options and, once we hit the ground, we are all on equal footing. Flights only represent a small fraction of the overall costs of your trip. Don’t get discouraged by a lack of deals, but instead do the best you can and look for ways to make up the costs on the ground.
If you look at flights as an insurmountable obstacle that you can’t get past, you’ll never see that beyond them are plenty of ways to save, even out your costs, and travel more — no matter where you are from in the world.
*Note: I know plenty of countries have different local and foreigner pricing but I’m talking about just tourists here.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!