How To Find A Cheap Flight

I’ve written about this previously back in 2014 and wanted to update the post with a few additional tips for my readers, I hope this is helpful for saving some cash to spend on fun things for your trip rather than giving all your cash to a big company before you even leave home!

Airfare prices can be the most costly single thing on your trip however, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom and there are a bundle of cheap ways to travel now. I’ve listed some of my top tips to save time, money and a bunch of stress on your next trip!

Plane-Wing-Taken-Out-The-Window-Adventurer-Stacey

Why Are Airfare Prices So Unpredictable?

As Richard Branson said in his autobiography (which I loved – every entrepreneur should read it!) airlines operate on small margins and it’s a hugely competitive industry. The airline wants a full plane and enough money from each passenger to pay overheads and make a little profit. Airfares can change from day-to-day with the cost of fuel and the demand on tickets fluctuating. I’ve watched many a flights price move up $200 in a week then down $200 the next week.

The following are my top tips to getting the best deal on your next flight!

Timing

Planning your travel in the shoulder or off-season will save you a bundle – I’ve flown Melbourne to Amsterdam return for AUD$1,200 when my friends paid $3,000 for the same flight only a few months’ later. I could have got the ticket cheaper again if I’d been available to fly a little later (for AUD$1,000).

Know What You Want To Spend

Part of being a budget traveller is having to stick to a budget. If you know you have $300 to spend on that flight and you’ve seen tickets this cheap before, don’t settle for the $600 ticket because you’re scared that will go (unless you’ve got real reason to think it will) sometimes waiting for a sale is well worth it. I’ve had to do this while booking flights around Asia before and although it was a bit nerve-wracking, I ended up paying what I wanted to pay in the end!

Be Flexible

Although I wouldn’t suggest flying on national days and missing celebrations often it’s good to have a bit of a window to fly in where possible. If $100 would make a big difference to your trip, would saving that little bit by booking your return leg two days’ after you thought you would make a difference to your trip?

Travel For An Event

More of an aside often we want to travel for an awesome event or festival however, we don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for the privilege. When planning my St Patrick’s Day trip, I booked several months’ in advance when sale fares were available and booked my ticket to be arriving in Dublin 8 days’ before St Patrick’s Day itself. Although I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone it suited me fine. I wanted to re-visit some parts of Ireland that I’d liked the last time I was there and knew that would be enough for me to be over jetlag and onto a normal time table for the event!

Something else I often see is people booking flights into a nearby city and traveling overland for an event, this can save big money too!

How Far Away From My Trip Should I Book?

Booking flights in that golden window of time when airlines are trying to fill their seats but not so near that they know they have you and prices will go up – usually about six to eight weeks before ensures the best prices. Don’t believe me? Visit any budget travel agents website and see when their flight specials are for, you’ll usually find them about eight weeks away or sometimes a little further away if the off season is coming up.

How To Search

I use Skyscanner to search for flights and have for several years’ now. I like that they don’t charge commissions and also give you the price that you will pay, not the drip price. Drip pricing is when an airline markets their flights as being super cheap – say, $6 then there is a tone of non-optional extras that may turn your $6 flight into a $106 flight, costing you sometimes the same amount of money as the more honest and often better to fly with airlines. I often search around three months (should I know I’m traveling three months away from a trip) and then repeat that search periodically, as well as watching budget travel agents’ websites to know when the airlines are having their sales!

Although I have not set up an email notification in ages often this is a preferred method of savvy fliers. You can do so with either Skyscanner or Airfare Watshdog. They’re easy to set up and could save you a pretty penny, if not a lot of your time.

Return Is Often Cheaper

When traveling around South & Central America last year I found that return tickets were often cheaper than booking a one way ticket. I saved around $800 from booking return flights rather than one-way flights and not taking the return leg.

Booking A Connection You Don’t Intend To Take

I don’t advocate for this as it’s something I’ve never done and don’t want to be responsible for your getting into trouble with an airline if you’re found out. However I wanted to mention it as this works well for people who’re happy to travel with just carry on luggage. Basically you want to book a flight to one city and it’s expensive for example, you want to fly to LA but its $800 for an LA flight and to fly to San Francisco via LA will be $600, you book the flight through to San Francisco, get off in LA and don’t take your connection. Be weary though that you won’t be able to take a return leg of a ticket like this. To find more info online if you’re interested this is called hidden city ticketing.

Places To Look

Although most people think they will find the cheapest tickets on budget airlines in economy sometimes the best deals (in regards to value for money) can be with traditional airlines or even in business class. When one considers that to fly budget they will get nothing for their money they will be purchasing basic things like the use of a blanket for the flight, a meal and a drink sometimes the price difference is even less than expected. A friend of mine too, booked a business class seat for his Melbourne to London flight for little more ($300) than a economy class seat and admitted to drinking the difference in Dom Perignon and having the best service and seating on the plane to boot! Checking business class before you book is a great idea!

Keep An Eye Out For Deals

You can sign up for email newsletters with your favorite airlines or budget travel agents however, I am a huge travel nerd and I list deals through my email newsletter! I list deals mostly for those traveling from major hubs in North America, Europe and the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) and am always seeking out more great travel deals, so if you want me to be doing all the hard work for you, sign up for the weekly email newsletter in the right-hand side bar now.

Taken when I was on a recent Maiden Flight and they had a little party before hand cupcakes and tequila (as it was to Mexico). Flight was late so we got extra tequila (at 10am, mind!)

Taken when I was on a recent Maiden Flight and they had a little party before hand cupcakes and tequila (as it was to Mexico). Flight was late so we got extra tequila (at 10am, mind!)

Did you like this post? Found it useful? Please list your thoughts and if there was anything important that’s been left out in the comments below!

Most Useful Travel Apps for Independent Travelers

Well, I guess everyone's going mobile now...

Well, I guess everyone’s going mobile now…

I’ve been asked what the most useful travel apps were for independent travelers a number of times over the years’ and have decided to do a round-up this week of the best travel apps I’ve used so far in my life as an independent traveler. Of course, every location will have specific apps (like bus/train apps for different European countries, for example). I chose to keep this pretty general though so not to get too bogged down. Feel free to add your favorite travel apps in the comments too so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Google Maps

Old faithful Google Maps has everything an adventurer who’s consistently getting lost needs plus a little extra. If you’re looking for something in particular in a city Google Maps can come in very handy. Of course, you can put in an address or name of business but you can also do more general searches and see what’s around you. Things like “ATM” or “Restaurant” plus there is reviews, etc. given by other users of google so you’re never going anywhere comply blind which is great.

XE Currency Converter

I pulled this app up when I first got to Belize and the hostel owner smiled at me, “You all use this app!” he said, “It’s good because if you didn’t, I’d just charge what I wanted!” then he laughed. He was joking (one hopes), this is a super useful for when you’re not totally comfortable with a new currency yet or when you will be using a few different currencies on your trip and want to stay on budget.

WhatsApp Messenger

Easiest way I’ve found to keep in touch with loved ones while traveling (and at home!) is WhatsApp Messenger. You can send an SMS for free to anyone as long as you have a WiFi or 3G connection.

TripAdvisor

An old favorite, I’ve used them TripAdviror app to look up great places to stay but also to double check claims of some places that they have high ratings on there (the website doesn’t always match claims!)

TripIt

Your mum will love you for this! Instead of asking you all the time exactly where you are, you can email your itinerary to other people from your phone, plus having your itinerary all in one place makes life easier for you. TripIt is great for new independent travellers who don’t want to miss a thing!

Accommodation

Depending on your style and budget there are a number of apps available. I’ve chosen my three favourites.

HostelBookers/Hostel World

Competing companies these two both have great deals, it just depends on whose interface you prefer. Occasionally for some parts of the world too, one website/app is better than the other, this is something you learn through experience however. HostelBookers app is here and Hostel World’s app is here.

Hotel Tonight

Not that we want to always be booking last moment but in travel, things are constantly changing and it’s good to have this app to find those last moment deals when you need to be hooked up.

AirBnB

Love this website! The AirBnB app is great too for when you want to stay somewhere a little different to the usual hostel/hotel and have a more unique and local experience. You’ll stay with locals and learn more about the place you’re staying in from them than you may staying in tourist-centric, less personal accommodation.

Airfare

Depending on your preference as with accommodation apps, both of these are great apps.

SkyScanner

I first heart of SkyScanner a few years’ ago when I was backpacking South East Asia for the first time. Everyone was using it and it was brand new and shiny then, now it’s very popular and much more polished. I use it all the time when booking flights myself (Note: I also recommend the website for booking flights).

Hipmunk

I’m newer to this than SkyScanner but like it so far! The Hupmunk is pretty cute and I also like how they list the lowest prices first in both airfare and accommodation and how in accommodation it tells you on the first screen if there is WiFi there. Wifi is a high priority of mine.

As mentioned previously, I’d love to hear your recommendations for travel apps worth using. Please comment below and share your favorites so others’ can check them out.

Travel Fails: How I Always Miss The Party

I recently booked a flight and while talking to the travel agent* I told him how much I was looking forward to this trip as I’d previously been to Dublin in March of 2012 and had left the city before the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and now I was looking forward to a St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin 2016!

That’s right guys, I’m having a proper St. Patrick’s day this year!

But before you get all jealous and start telling me how unfair it is that you don’t get to be at the party, let me tell you a few of my own stories about how I’ve missed more than one big party because of poor travel planning. I’ve never been a great planner, but sometimes you really do have face-palm moments when you realise you could have, should have done something differently.

I loved how excited people were for the national day - Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

I loved how excited people were for the national day – Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

Missing Chile’s National Holiday

This was painful! Not only did I miss the great day, but I flew out of Santiago on Chile’s national day. Poor form by me not only because I missed this wonderful day but also because I missed it, almost didn’t make the airport because nothing was running for the national holiday and experienced an earthquake (perhaps unrelated, but I wanted to throw that in!). What was I doing!?

Missing A Genuine St. Patrick’s Day In Dublin

Okay, so I touched on this already. But it still hurts to know how much green beer and craic I missed out on. Especially when I consider I’d made some decent local friends when I backpacked Ireland who could have shown me all the awesome things about Dublin – and Ireland – on their national day that weirdly, seems to be the only national day of any one nation celebrated by everyone in the world. Perhaps this is a testament to the charm of the Irish that everyone wants to celebrate their national day or perhaps it’s their huge world-wide migration with something like 70 million people all over the world having Irish names or maybe just good marketing. Not sure, will tell you after March 17th.

Laos-Adventurer-Stacey

Missing The Boat And Other Asian Disasters

I didn’t plan my first trip to South East Asia very well at all as testament to the fact that I seemed to miss out on all the great backpacker experiences. Instead of being able to spend 30 days’ in Thailand and traveling the whole country in one go, I flew from Bangkok to Phnom Phen just four days’ after arriving which meant I had to keep leaving Thailand and going back in for two-week long visa sprints. I also missed the rocket festival in Laos by a few hours, missed taking the slow boat into Laos and flew (doh!) which meant I missed all those great ‘slow boat friends’ everyone else had and was travelling with not to mention the fact I spent stupid money flying about because I didn’t want to book with local airlines and would book last moment. Yeah, total fail.

I hope that perhaps in all my travel mistakes, my reader’s can learn from them and not repeat them themselves. They would easily save money and have a better time themselves. You’re welcome.

How about you? Do you have any great travel timing fails you’d like to share? Please comment below so the rest of us can learn from your mistakes, cheers for being awesome enough to do that in advance too!

 

*I don’t always use agents however, when I do I use STA Travel. They have great deals and are totally understanding when you tell them you only want to book a few things (like flights and insurance) through them and want to do the rest independent. I recommend them and plenty of other great travel brands to my readers.

2016 Is Here! No-One Forget Their New Year’s Resolutions!

Often people set themselves unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Thing like, “I’m going to lose weight” and “I’m going to learn a language” are great, but just a few short weeks’ in, they’ve stopped going to gym and have stopped their language classes through a mixture of complicated emotions, unclear goals and other personal reasons. If people really wanted to do these things, they wouldn’t need a resolution to do them, these things would just get done.

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

However, as someone who’s so interested in travel she has a travel blog and nerds on all about travel whenever she has a chance, I feel I can attest that any travel-related New Year’s resolutions I say I will do will happen because 1) I am obviously committed to following my travel dreams and because 2) you are all watching me and will remind me this time in 2017 if I do not fulfil these travel dreams.

Don’t lie to yourself, you totally will remind me and that’s totally okay, I welcome it. I appreciate the social responsibility here as someone who’s constantly trying to inspire others to travel to do some travel myself.

How cheeky those London street artists are!

How cheeky those London street artists are!

So my travel resolutions for 2016 are:

  • I am going to succeed in living abroad. I’m not going to just go abroad for a short time, decide it’s too hard and leave again. I’m going to be a proper expat, if only for a few months. I have some plans in the works that I’ll talk about in the coming weeks’. Watch this space!
  • I want to see three new countries this year – I’ve visited something like 32 countries to date (I think, don’t quote me on that because I never was much of a numbers woman) but I want to visit three new ones, countries I have never visited before, so I can have different experiences and insights into a new (to me) culture.
  • I’m going to connect more – with the places that I am and the people that I meet. I want to find out one interesting thing about every person I meet on the road in 2016. Perhaps I will write them down. I will write them down and share the most interesting with you all. Likely this blog post will come out in late 2016 so again, keep watching this space.
In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

Those are my three. I would write more but those three are enough. I’d rather focus on three totally awesome things to achieve and do them well over a bunch of things that I could do not-so-well.

Now it’s your turn! What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 and do any involve travel?

What It’s Really Like To Survive An 8.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Chile-Adventurer-StaceyI felt cosy tucked into bed in my pink, flannel PJs, I’d been talking to a girl who’d been placed in my dorm room maybe an hour before when the room started shaking. I was the first to notice as I was lying in bed and her standing. Like anyone who wants to be in denial I turned to the new girl and asked, “Is that an earth quake?” At first, she tried to laugh it off, “of course not! How could it be!”

I stood up anyway and walked to the doorway, I’d seen this in an American film. They had earth quakes in America and they always stood in doorways until it was over.

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

Quickly, a few things happened. A French-Canadian guy asked me if it was an earth quake too (apparently I’m not the only one who’s keen on denial) then a Spaniard jumped out of the shower, towel around his waist and asked me the same question. As the Spaniard got out of the shower and found me sharing my doorway with two other people, we all realised how funny the scene was and laughed. I laughed all the way down the stairs and onto the street as our hostel owner ushered us out of the building: you’re told to leave buildings and stand on the street in case of earth quakes as buildings often collapse and it’s best not to be in that collapsed building if you can help it, right!?

As we stood there plenty of locals passed us on the Santiago street. They all looked confused and some women even gave me a funny look. Where did all these gringo’s come from and what did that girl think she was doing, standing around in her PJs? I wasn’t the only fashion disaster as I stood next to the guy in his towel. Luckily we weren’t out there long – the first time.

I loved how excited people were for the national day - Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

I loved how excited people were for the national day – Chilean flags EVERYWHERE! (Photo taken in Valparaiso, one of the most heavily damaged tsunami areas)

I messaged my parents (like any well-trained solo female traveller who had a habit of being in countries when they had natural disasters). My dad messaged me back quickly to let me know there was a tsunami warning and the earth quake had been a big one, he sent me this message even before people in-country knew what was going on. The power of the internet! I wasn’t really sure if I should worry about tsunami warnings however, so asked the hostel owner if this was a problem. He said we were inland and it wasn’t. I would read in news reports later that coastal towns I had just visited were affected by the tsunami and realised that I was lucky that I had come back to this hostel earlier than expected because I had had such a wonderful time here.

The second big earth quake hit again when I was in bed. Again I walked outside. Everyone teased the man who had previously been wearing a towel and told him he shouldn’t bother with the clothes he was now wearing before rounding on me to tease me about my poor fashion sense.

Santiago-Chile-Mountains-And-City-Adventurer-Stacey

Even with a light atmosphere I did feel a bit uncomfortable, I could feel this earth quake was bigger than the last one and that it had lasted longer. Later I would discover this earth quake was an 8.3 and the previous had been a 7.9. Of course I hadn’t been at the epicentre so the earth quakes I felt were not as strong as they were in other places.

Throughout the night it felt like there were aftershocks constantly. I had tried to sleep through them but was a little jumpy – getting out of bed two or three times thinking it was another big earth quake when it wasn’t – I eventually got to sleep and the next day discovered that my bed was half off its base, obviously in the night the earth quakes had moved my bed so much I was almost on the floor, yet I hadn’t woken up. Proof you can sleep through anything if you’re tired enough.

Life's tough for palace guard dog's as you can see...

Life’s tough for palace guard dog’s as you can see…

At breakfast we read more about the earth quakes – finding out how big they had been and the damage they had done. I was surprised the death toll was so small, I knew locals were used to earth quakes but that they’d managed to get through such a huge event relatively unscathed still surprised me. Of course there were huge problems close to the coast with people’s homes and boats being flung around by the waves.

Later that same day I met a local guy who was a friend of the hostel owner. His whole family were in affected areas and he was saying he would go there and help them rebuild – another testament to the generosity of Chilean people, he had no question weather he would go help his family: Family are important and it’s just what you do.

Reading reports of the earth quakes later inspired me to write my own story so others’ would see that they are not as scary as had been made out in media and that the world is much safer than we think. Also because I think Chilean’s are pretty awesome people and this is a place everyone should visit and not be scare off by seismic activity.

Travelling Creatives: Wandering The World, Making Art

Travel really brings out creativity in people, to live an unconventional life of travelling freely for extended periods of time people have to get creative.

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

While I was in the UK I was staying in hostels (or living in hostels technically when you consider the length of time) and while I was there I met some of the most talented musicians I think I have ever met in my life. I felt so much richer just for having been enchanted by their art.

In South America the creative types morph from buskers with guitars into jugglers, circus folk and artisans who make jewellery, handicrafts and even bars of soap to sell in their pursuit of a live lived on the road. These guys’ seem to be living a much rougher lifestyle from the outside however, they seem much happier than their often better-off European busking cousins.

In the past I’ve also met traveling hairdressers, the best hair cut I ever had was in a hostel in Belize. They’re every bit as creative in their marketing to backpackers for fast cash before moving onto the next town as the traditional artisan creatives.

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

Being around all of these creative types feels amazing! While in Edinburgh I was nudged by some musicians who were living in the hostel to come to a bar and listen to music. Sounds unremarkable as most bars with live music tend to put a band on themselves however, this bar had just opened the floor to anyone who was interested in playing. As a result half of the bar was talented musicians and the other half was people like myself who happily listened. The bar was so full of people one could hardly move but that didn’t matter, you had no reason to want to go anywhere. To buy a drink one would pass their money to the bar from person-to-person (a lot of trust here) and then have their drink passed back from person-to-person (even more trust when you consider how much Scot’s love a drink!). It was such a great experience and one I will cherish always, it really fed my soul.

Being as surrounded by creative energy as I am while on the road I want to dust off a guitar and learn to play again, or start up my own travelling micro-business in handicrafts or to learn to cut hair so I can cut travellers hair and make enough to travel onwards.

Sadly, I am lacking in these areas at the moment. I am a writer and find great pleasure in a quiet corner of a hostel common room, tea mug in hand writing for my blog and for my personal travel journal. This is my creative streak expressed.

Although writing is solitary I know it won’t make me quick money like busking or selling jewellery will. Perhaps I should have polished some other skills before I left home. Hindsight is twenty-twenty!

 

Do you have skills that can make you money on the road? If so, will/do you use them to aid your travels?

What qualifies me to give you travel advice

I read a lot of junk on the internet, plenty of it written by self-proclaimed experts in their fields. Most of the experts are just regular people who have plenty of experience in one area. For example, if someone has 10 years marketing experience, they might call themselves a marketing expert online. It sounds better than just talking about their experience, right?

Recently a friend introduced me as a “travel expert”. I had to laugh at this then thought about it, I guess I am as much an expert as people on the internet as I travel extensively, research widely and have several years’ experience at this, but that’s not why you should listen to me when you are planning your travel.

Berlin-Wall--Adventurer-StaceyI have said it before and I will say it again: on the road, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have gotten lost, gotten ripped off and potentially put myself at huge risks, with the thought in mind that I can handle anything. Worst of all, I get scared about travel and have my own fears of the unknown.

These things are natural and human, mistakes are common, fears are more so. Overcoming those fears is less common and getting back on the horse after making big mistakes and getting on with it is less so as well. I could have given up my dreams of travel at any time and retreated back to my comfort zone, but I didn’t and I won’t finish travelling until I feel happy with my personal achievements.

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travel has helped me develop as a person, to find my strengths in communication and negotiation and gave me the opportunity to exercise my personal charm and capacity for empathy. Travel has thought me a lot and continues to teach me. I am a student of life and love that the whole world is my classroom!

Right now I am in the UK at the beginning of my working holiday. It’s been a really good time full of new adventures and exploration. I have allowed myself the freedom to go anywhere in the UK and will be exploring more of Westeros the UK in this next two years than I ever have before. I’ll explore Europe further at a slower pace than I have in the past as a backpacker speeding about.

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

It was my travel dream to be here and I am achieving that as you read this. If you are going to get advice from someone that someone should have been where you are in the past and be living their dream now. To inspire you, they have to be doing what you want to be doing, right? I think I qualify.

What’s your travel dream? What do you want out of travel? In years from now when you’re in a nursing home talking to all the other elderly women and men, what will you tell them? Will you tell them you followed your dreams and had your own adventures or that you let your fears stop you?

NYC-Central_Park-Adventurer-StaceyTime to take the next step? As always, I’m here to help and am available for travel consulting sessions via skype. Yes, even in old Blighty, I’m here for you guys.

Staying in hostels is always an awesome idea (even when you can afford not to!)

I stay in hostels all the time, even though hostels in the UK where I am right now are not the best in the world, I stay in them. I can afford not to but feel they are better for solo travel than a hotel is. Want to know why? Here’s my top four reasons…

(photo credit: Crispin Semmens)

(photo credit: Crispin Semmens)

Quick, easy way to meet new people

When I was staying in a hotel in Vientine, Laos I walked into my room one night to put something away in my bag and got talking to the people in my room. It wasn’t long before we all decided to go out for dinner and drinks. There was about a dozen of us and we met other people while we were out and had a few drinks with them. Before I knew it, I’d been out a few hours, was full of $1 beers and felt really happy with all the interesting people I’d met. Not only do hostels push everyone together into one room, but hostel dwellers tend to want to have these experiences so they happen more often.

Hostels are international

I love that I can have dinner with people from every continent easily when I stay at hostels. The things I’ve learned and the conversations I’ve had about people, culture and food with people I’ve met in hostels that have spurred me on to travel more and made the world seem that bit smaller and more friendly have been amazing!

Hostels are run for your benefit

Staying in a hotel is nice: you got a big bed, soft towels and room service. In a hotel you’ve very comfortable but, at the end of the day you’re only really renting a room and hotel owners and workers see it that way. It’s very uncommon to stay in a hotel and meet all the other guests, have the owners take you out for a bar crawl and meet tones of locals too. In the best hostels, these things are just a normal nightly occurrence. For people who’re time-poor, this is the best way to get the most out of a place before moving on.

Hostels are full of good stories

I was backpacking my way through Europe when I met two girls who had just been in the city I was going to. They recommended an amazing hostel that had great nightlife and a wonderful roof-top balcony. They also told me about this guy who’d been staying there when they were there – they were just there. I laughed at the tales about how this guy kept getting caught hooking up with girls at really bad times, like when one of the girls was having a fight with her boyfriend who came home to find her with this guy. Although the stories weren’t positive, when I met him at the hostel I couldn’t stop laughing as I re-told him his own stories. He had a good sense of humour and could laugh at himself.

Do you love hostels? Hate hostels? Love to hate them? Comment bellow to join the discussion.

What if I don’t like the people I meet when I travel?

Sometimes I forget how hard it was to travel solo for the first time, it’s been a long time since my first solo adventure after all. I forget about all the little things that bother you as you learn to cope in a big world on your own: things like keeping your belongings safe when you have no friend to leave them with when you want to use the bathroom, things like branching out and meeting new people at the hostel and having the skills to duck out of conversations and interactions that make you uncomfortable or don’t add to this great experience you’re having without missing a beat.

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

A reader sent me an email the other day asking what she should do in her situation. She’s been on the road two weeks and spent most of it in Bangkok, Thailand. She’s staying on the famous backpacker strip of Kho San Road and was having trouble meeting new people due to shyness, she met a few new people every day when she finally hit the jackpot: she was grabbing beers with a big group of westerners, mostly Europeans. Conversation was the usual, where people had been and  where they were going, where they were from, cool stories then suddenly it seemed everyone was talking about recreational drugs. My reader wasn’t comfortable with this conversation topic and unsure how to change it as the group powered on, excitedly swapping new stories, drug stories. She quickly made her excuses and left politely.

I can relate to my readers situation in many ways, often when I travel I meet people who I might not have a whole lot in common with besides the fact that we like to travel and share at least one language to communicate with one another. I’ve had nights out that start with one group of people and end with another group who I have more in common with. This isn’t intentional and I don’t need people to go out with when I travel solo so don’t seek people out, it’s just the formula of solo travel: I’m easy to approach on my own so often get talking to new people at the hostel, bar, 7-11 or on the street. Sometimes you’re going somewhere and they’re moving in the same direction so ask you to join them, pretty quickly you both realise you have nothing in common and part ways.

Travellers are used to fast friendships and as most are pretty “easy come, easy go” with everything on their travels. When you’re living a transient lifestyle (even if only for a few weeks’ or months) you don’t expect anything to last forever. This doesn’t mean you should forget all social niceties and bounce from person to person to person at your hostel because people seem boring today. It does mean though that you should be prepared for people you have less in common with to spend less time with you and to move on quickly to people they can relate to better. It’s not personal, it’s just they’re on their journey and you’re on yours. This also means that you can make the same choices, which can be very liberating.

Now it’s your turn, have you befriended someone on your travels who wasn’t quite the person you wanted to hang around with right then? What did you do?

Stop Worrying About Money, It Never Worries About You!

I’ve written so much about money and budgeting now and I still get readers coming to me with the same worries and concerns about money and travel that won’t be sated easily. So I decided to write the most common concerns all in one place.

(Photo Credit:  Moyan Brenn)

(Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn)

I don’t know if I have enough money to travel!

This one is difficult for me to give you an answer for as no one amount is going to cover everyones trip. Some people travel the world for years with a $30 a day budget that includes everything for two people others’ spend 20k on a few weeks’ of luxury vacation.

As a budget traveller though, I use the rule of three method. I’ll find budget accommodation (usually a hostel although in developing countries it can also be a hotel or guest house) and then multiply it by three. Using London as an example as it’s where I am at the moment: my hostel bed at the moment costs around $30 a night (Australian) so I’d budget for $90 a day. Of course I wouldn’t usually spend that as food and attractions in London are much cheaper than accommodation but it’s a rough budget that allows me to know how much I need to save for a trip. This method is popular with travellers for a reason, it works.

What if I run out of money on the road?

Do you have a ticket home and a return date? If so, you can stick to your budget until then and try to reduce your spending if you know you’re going over budget a bit too often. If you don’t have a return ticket it can be more complicated to look after your finances but not impossible. When budgeting for your trip set an amount that if you go below that in your bank account you will book a ticket home. For example if a traveller from New York knows it will cost them around $800-$1000 for a one-way ticket from Bangkok booked a week in advance they may wait until they have $2000 in their bank account so they have a little financial cushion in their account when they return home. Set yourself these boundaries and stick to them.

What if someone steals from me?

Unfortunately sometimes people steal. One hostel I stayed at in New York City had multiple signs posted around the place asking people who’d stolen to return the things they’d taken and that no questions will be asked however, if things didn’t go back to their original owners police action would be taken. I don’t like seeing this in hostels but know it’s a fact of life: thieves are opportunists and should you leave your phone on charge or your wallet on your bunk often you won’t see it again. Your best cause of action is to not give people the opportunity, even those you’ve known a little while and are letting your guard down with, it’s too easy for your valuables to disappear shortly before your new friend does.

How much will it cost to…?

As stated in the first question, personal budgets are difficult for me to draw up sometimes even for myself. refer to the rule of three stated in the second paragraph for my way of working out what I want, it may work wonders for you: be real with yourself about your expected level of comfort and experience when you travel.

Those are some of the questions I get most often and my general advice is everything with money can be worked through. Money is always a very emotional topic for people and we all have our hang ups about money we need to work through. Being aware of the problem is often your first step.

What advice would you give to fellow travellers about money? Tell us in the comments below.