One of the ultimate prizes on any game show is often a trip around the world. It’s hard to imagine heading off on a whirlwind tour and seeing each and every country. It costs an arm and a leg heading out for a few weeks in Spain. However there are ways you can see the world without signing up to every TV prize show on earth.
You are probably thinking “Yup, backpacking. It’s not for me thank you” but actually we aren’t contemplating sending you off with nothing more than a rucksack and the hope of good will. Of course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to discuss it a little later on.
Since the birth of the internet the world was really opened up. Aeroplanes can pack more people on than ever before and now we can compare flight prices across all of the major players using just one website. It’s given us an access to amazing deals and last minute offers. We have also seen a rise in sites such as AirBnB where people are offering up a room in their home, or their whole home, so you can nip in and stay for an awful lot less than the traditional hotel. Of course this has meant the larger hotels are forced to lower their prices. As a result, if you look in the right places you are going to find a cracking deal.
America is great for exploring, because you can head off in your car, on foot or via public transport. This means you have loads of different transport options and can find the most competitive one. If you are looking to really explore the country then taking a coach may be a better idea than jetting off on a plane or train. You will make more stops and see more of the in between places. Areas that aren’t so popular with tourists. We aren’t talking a coach tour, those can be expensive. We are talking good old fashion public transport. You will have to change coaches a lot and that means needing to understand how, where and when they are leaving one destination and heading off for another. You’ll get to know fellow passengers and share stories. It is a little more friendly that popping on a flight and whizzing into a city. Coach travel is really laid back and if you are in a rush, it probably isn’t for you.
You want to travel the world though, so at some point you are going to need to jump on a plane. Understanding how to book cheap flights takes a little bit of practice. You need to research the different tourist trends and the seasons that are busier. As an example, Easter is a great time to book a flight to the caribbean as most of the tourists are moving on to the Americas as the weather is starting to improve. When we hit May, almost all of the ski resorts will be shut down and you can take advantage of bounce flights into germany, switzerland and some areas in france. You also need to get to grips with searching each leg individually. If you use one american site to search for the best deals from New York to London, then London to Paris, Paris to Rome you may find that you aren’t getting the best deals. Instead use a British search site to find the best deals for the London to Paris leg. Then look at France for sourcing your Paris to Rome trip. For those who really live for the moment, you could even play travel roulette. Look for the cheapest flight to the cheapest destination and head there. Then once you have toured the area and got your bearings, do the same thing again. Let fate decide how you are going to see the world.
Hopping between America and Europe might be tough, but you could take on most of europe in a car. To save a fortune on hire car costs, look at buying a cheap little work horse when you get to France or the United Kingdom. Set yourself a $500 budget and then use the car to take on the European countries. You will need to learn about toll roads and try to work out your petrol costs. However it’s going to be one hell of a lot cheaper paying for petrol to get a small car to cover a few hundred miles, than it is to pay for an aeroplane to propel you the same distance.
If you are going to backpack your way around the world, told you we’d talk about it, then you do have the added benefit of staying in one place if you are settled. This means you could take on some work to help improve your financial situation. There are expats working all over the world, including places such as Afghanistan. Tourists are mostly welcome in this war torn country, however that doesn’t mean you are going to be safe. Iraq on the other hand is best avoided, especially if you are American. Get to know the places you want to visit, or can visit, before you set off and then try to find internet forums where the expat community come together. Then make some friends. This could also save you money on hotels. If you have a few mates in some far out countries then use them as a base for a while. If they are like minded when it comes to travel, you can repay the favour one day.
Last minute is always the best way of securing some ace deals on any travel or accommodation. So if you like to have a plan, perhaps you could let your hair down a little when it comes to intercountry travel. There are so many options that you really are better off deciding when you have boots down in the country.
One area you can save a fortune on, is food. Firstly, self catering accommodation is going to cost you far less, obviously, than 5 star fully inclusive. Secondly, you get to cook in a country you have probably never been too. This is exciting. Food is a brilliant way of getting to the heart of a culture. You will be able to head out to markets and buy up local ingredients which will taste the way they should taste, not how they taste once they hit our local supermarkets. It is a great way to start conversations up with the locals too. Ask them how you create local specialities and if they have any family recipes you could try. If you are staying in one area for a few weeks, you can bulk cook which will bring the cost down even more. This will also save you money during the day if you stick to recipes that can be eaten hot and cold. Of course you should budget to eat out in every country you visit. However shy away from the fancy restaurants and head towards street food vendors. Here you will really begin to extend your knowledge of flavour and the passion that goes into the country’s cuisine. You will be amazed at the prices too, this isn’t like home where the street vendors charge you a small fortune. This is great value, delicious food made by people who are cooking for their homes.
Another great way of saving money is to get an unlocked mobile phone. This way you can pick up a Pay As You Go sim in every country you visit, they have these everywhere, even in Afghanistan, so make the most of being able to stay in touch. You will also be able to use 3G if you have no wifi connection. This means you can stay online to search out brilliant deals and keep in touch with your family via Whatsapp.
Using sites like Rome 2 Rio will also help you seek out some local travel solutions which could bring the cost of your trip down. It calculates your route for you and then shows you the most efficient route, the cheapest route and the middle of the road, best value route. Which will take an awful lot of personal planning out of the equation. You can also get online in the countries you are visiting and look at car shares. In the UK there is a site called BlaBlaCar where travellers put a price on their passenger seat. You would be amazed at how far you can travel like this. One verified user is selling his passenger seat for £15.50 and is going from London Gatwick, to Scotland!
Searching around whilst you are in the country’s you are visiting is the best way of taking on a world trip on a budget. It isn’t going to be as glamorous as a first class ticket around the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little 5 star luxury to your trips. Many site comparison sites offer a ‘mystery hotel’ where one of the finest 5 stars sells an empty room for cost price. This gives you the chance to spend one night of indulgence whilst saving an awful lot of money. Hopefully breakfast will be included. Take a big bag and fill up!