This is a 6-part short series is about how to plan, enjoy, benefit from and finance a road trip across 5 continents in 5 months, for less than US$10,000. Frequent travelling has a steep learning curve and we hope to help you with that. This talks about how to plan your travel: planning, flying hacks and packing hacks.
Find Your Equilibrium
This the trickiest part of the pre-travel arrangement. What’s best for you? Each day planned in advanced? Each hotel night booked beforehand? What about the flights? From my experience, I noticed there are two types of travelers: too much planning vs not enough.
“Too much planning” will very likely make arrangement through an agency, including flights, buses, and guide and a very packed timeline. They will pay loads of money to feel “safe”. As such, they travel with a different mindset and attitude. This is not the type of travel we are speaking about. Search for other websites that talks about vacation travel and travelling as a tourist.
We are talking about long-term frequent travel with an open mindset. Not your usual tourist vacations.
“Not enough” will just book a round-trip flight from and to their home country. Or even a one-way ticket if their passport allows them to do so. They will just go along with the flow, asking around to locals and fellow travelers what to do and when. They often skip the touristy attractions and travel to random rural areas. Sometimes wasting time a few days here and then, chilling and doing nothing.
On my side, I am kind of in between, more on the “not enough planning” side. Many good things come from the unknown and the unforeseen, so I try not to be stuck with deadlines. I usually book round-trip tickets, or even better, multi-destination ones, starting from your home country till city A in country X, and then flying back from city B in country Y back to my home country, with like a 6 months layover in between.
Pre-Travel Planning Tips
- Spend a few hours online looking for tips: the easiest moves are often the best! Forget about Lonely Planet guides or equivalent. Just google “what to do in X city in Y days?”. You will be redirected to forums which are often more up-to-date and precise than most traveler guides. I also use Trevellers. Then, I just save the web pages for offline reading with apps such as Pocket or Evernote, which brings us to our second tip.
Trevellers tips: check out Atlas Obscura, about 12.000 cool places/landmarks everywhere in the world, mostly unknown and super cool.
- Go local: a week or two before you go, start writing to people in local communities. Example: Couchsurfing, Trevellers Community, local backpacker Facebook groups. Seeking accommodation, a local buddy or just local tips. The community often has valuable tips.
- CS: Make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date, with as many positive reviews as you can. If you don’t have at least 10 of them, ask your friends!
- Local backpacker Facebook groups: like “Australian Backpackers” or “Backpackers in Florida” or whatever.
Trevellers tips: recently, the CS website has been changing, and they are trying to turn it into a cash cow by making people pay a one-time fee. Don’t! You still have the right to send 10 requests per week, which is enough if you use them wisely.
Fly Like A Genius
This is where you can make a big difference between ending up being broke with insanely expensive flights or rather getting to see a few countries for free. Book with long layovers and for less money! As per my current road trip, flights alone represent between 37% of my total expenses (3657usd for 31 flights), so better booking them wisely. By doing so, I managed to save at least 1500usd, and get to see 8 countries virtually for free, as long layovers (between 10 and 72 hours) were (much) cheaper than a direct flight. This is worth spending a few hours to spot the best deals!
Read more: How To Fly Like A Genius
Packing: Light is Right
As mentioned just above, weight can be a problem, especially when you fly low cost! Better be focuses on what matters, what’s light and what you can buy on the way. Of course, it depends on everybody choices. Pack light and pack only the essentials.
Read more: How To Pack Only The Essentials
Travelling expensively has changed me, even shaped me in a way. I am very keen to share this experience with people, from all backgrounds: people willing to start travelling, or doing it even more often, wiser or in a more sustainable way. I have received more help, friendships and kindness that I would have expected. For me, this is a way for me to give back, to help people in return, to inspire beginners.