For me, the hardest part about moving abroad is being away from my family and friends. In the beginning, when I would talk about moving, people would say “oh, man! That’s so cool. I can’t wait to come visit you.” I smiled. I encouraged them because nothing sounds better to me than my friends and family visiting, but I’m not gullible enough to believe they will all come visit. Why won’t they visit? Because travel has this mysterious and annoying habit of seeming unobtainable. I emphasize the “seeming” aspect because that’s all it is. A mirage. I came to Europe with less than $2,000 US dollars in my account (for the long haul) and I paid less than $400 for my ticket. I’ve now been living abroad for 8 weeks with no income and I have traveled three times to 3 separate cities.
I’ll tell you a secret. Travel can be expensive, but it can be affordable too. Travel can be out of this world unobtainable, but it is still within reach. I can’t promise you’ll be flying first class and I can’t make up for the other factors keeping you from seeing the world, like work, PTO and life events. But, I can tell you how to find cheap flights abroad. I can tell you how to extinguish that annoying façade travel likes to put on so that the world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is try. I can give you the steps and resources, but it’s up to you to spend the time.
Disclaimer: I am not by any means a paid sponsor for any of the following companies I mention, I am just an avid believer in sharing resources to make travel obtainable for everyone. Also, I want my friends and family to use these and come visit me…selfish, I know. Get working mom and dad.
- Use These Travel-Hack Resources
I discovered the power of Twitter months ago before I even decided I was moving for sure. I’ll be honest, I do not use Twitter. I would like to, but it’s just not for me. However, I refuse to delete my account for one reason: the travel twitter accounts. If you don’t follow Scotts Cheap Flights, (SCF) stop whatever you are doing this instant and do it. This Twitter account not only delivers cheap round-trip flights to my phone every hour every day, but it also does so with a fun rapport. If you can make me laugh and sell me your product, you’re doing it right. Good for you SCF.
Secondly, if you don’t have a Twitter you can also sign up for Scotts Cheap Flights emails. Even better, there is a freebie version and a paid version, in which you can designate all the travel steals being sent to you are flying out of your particular airport or are flying to locations you want to visit. Scotts Cheap Flights is the bread and butter of travel and no matter where you are in the world, you can use Scotts. I know it sounds too good to be true… it’s not. It’s too good and it’s so true.
Another resource on both on Twitter and Online is Airfare Spot. I’m not sure if it’s as big as Scotts Cheap Flights, but it is definitely worth the constant tweets of cheap flights. If anything gets your wanderer soul singing, it’s a constant barrage of tweets of cheap-a** flights to your phone.
Just to add some perspective: if you want to fly to any other continent, I would say expect to pay $800 and up. A normal ticket costs $1200 USD or more. So, these resources are saving you $400+.
- Google Flights + Alerts
For those of you who doubt the all-powerful Google, I plead you not to. I didn’t actually know how this worked until I started working in reputation management, which kind of makes me the black sheep of my generation, because Google Flight Alerts is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Search the term, Google Flights and it will bring you to a search forum for you to search for flights. Pick your travel dates and a destination. The way to get cheap flights is to set up a maximum price you are willing to spend, and then turn the “Track Prices” toggle to on.
This will allow you to receive email alerts anytime the price goes down significantly for this particular flight. This is how I found my ticket to Prague, which was $300 + the cost of my bags.
- Bye Bye Direct, Hello Numb Bum
If you are looking to travel cheaply, you are going to have to give to take. What do you need to give up? Direct flights and an airline you’re familiar with. Usually if you are going somewhere far, it won’t be direct anyway. However, you may need to stop 2 to 3 times if you want to save money. I bought a separate ticket to Newark, NJ from Atlanta and from there I boarded a TAP Air Portugal flight that flew me to Lisboa, Portugal and then to Prague. I traveled for more than 30 hours. Was it exhausting? Absolutely. Was it uncomfortable? Absolutely. Did I make it and save over $2,000, which was the cheapest flight to Prague on any reputable airline out of Atlanta at that time? Hell yes.
At the moment that this blog was written, I was sitting on a 9-hour bus ride to Berlin, Germany. I could have flown (less than 2 hours duration,) but it was cheaper to take a bus. Did I make a sacrifice? Yes. Am I still going to be in Berlin in the end? Yes. Sometimes travel can’t be luxurious, but it sure as hell is possible.
Additionally, consider the “during” part of your travels. Find a cheap place to stay; consider hostels or reach out to someone in the city that you may know, even if it’s been years. I am essentially couch surfing around Germany staying with someone I haven’t seen in a decade and someone I’ve only known a month. Trust your judgement and be smart and you’ll be fine. Secondly, be frugal with your money. Buy groceries and cook in. Save your going out money for authentic meals so you can get a real taste of the culture or plan out specific places you want to visit or specific foods you want to try.
Yes, it’s true that travel can be expensive. But if you utilize the resources you have and are willing to give some things up, you can be on the next plane to Budapest. Once you’re in Europe, it’s much cheaper and easier to travel. There are so many busses, trains and planes at your fingertips. I’ve been traveling via Flixbus, which is great, but doesn’t go everywhere. There is also RegioJet. To fly, consider Ryanair (the Frontier of Europe.)
Weigh all your options; sometimes an Airbnb can be cheaper than a hostel. Also consider Facebook groups for “short-term” sublets in cities if you are going to be visiting for 2 weeks or longer. A lot of people in Europe take vacations for 2 weeks – 1 month at a time and rent out their flats or rooms to travelers for cheaper than a hotel. Do your research, spend some time and you’ll be happy you did when you’re standing in the middle of a Carnaval block party in Rio de Janiero. Enjoy your cheap travel, and just for kicks, your young and bold travel. 😉 Go be young, go be bold.
If you have any additional travel tips, please comment and share! We are all in this together my wanderlust friends.