“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now boarding flight 223, non-stop service to Singapore.”
This announcement sent chills down my 17 year old spine. I was boarding my first international flight, headed to the mystical isle of Singapore, and I had no idea what to expect. Would I like the food? Would I be able to get to my hotel without being able to speak the language? (I found out later that they all speak English there…so that thought ended up being a bit embarrassing.)
That trip to Singapore was my first foray into international travel, and since then I’ve traveled to 10+ countries, and have an insatiable desire to travel, experience other cultures, and see new things.
You see, at the tender age of 17 I discovered an incredible truth…this world is a big, unique, diverse, mysterious, and incredible place, and God created it for us to enjoy.
And I wanted to see more of it.
Thankfully for my budget, I discovered the wonderful world of “travel hacking” - using miles/points, timing, and knowledge of the system to travel at an incredibly reduced cost.
On our last trip, my wife and I went to Ireland. The flight alone would have cost us over $10,000 (first class!) but instead we only paid $240 for the flight and less than $150 per day to galavant around the country (and it could have been cheaper, but hey, it was our anniversary so we splurged).
But where do you start? All the options and methods can be overwhelming so here are the first 4 steps you should take.
1. Decide where you want to go and when
You have to build a travel hacking plan around a destination or trip. If you don’t have an end goal then all you’ll be doing is earning points/miles to earn points/miles and you’ll never go anywhere. So figure out when and where you’d like to travel. Then you can start planning!
2. Create a plan
Create a plan for acquiring the points/miles needed for your trip. For instance, I needed 100,000 British Airways miles for our flight to Ireland, so I did some research and discovered you can get 50,000 miles for signing up for the British Airways credit card. The wife and I both signed up for the card and boom, we had 100,000 miles.
3. Find the right resources
There are so many travel hacking websites out there. I’d start here, and then branch out to here and here. These guys pay attention to all the new deals and opportunities so you don’t have too. If you need a bit more hand holding, you can also sign up for Chris Guillebeau’s Travel Hacking Cartel - a great service for newbies.
4. Be adventurous!
You’re young, so go explore! Plan an international adventure and go. If I could go back to my 17 year old self and give him one piece of advice, it would be to travel and have adventures.
When you eat some strange delicacy in a foreign land, or get to know someone who grew up in a completely alien culture, your view of the world, God, and creation, is expanded beyond your imagination.
Your view of the world changes. The concept of “us vs. them” goes away. The thought that we are superior to other cultures goes away. Believe me, the moment you realize the house you’re staying in is older than your country, it puts things into perspective.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there! Travel, experience different cultures, broaden your view of the world, learn about new cultures and people groups, be bold and open yourself up to new experiences.
I promise you will not regret it.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Andrew is currently the Marketing Director for Unbound. When he’s not at the office, you can find him traveling with his wife, riding his mountain bike, swimming in the Comel river, or reading at his favorite coffee shop/bakery.Read more by Andrew