“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
I will be spending all of July in Mexico. I refuse to call it a vacation though. “Vacation” indicates the need to get away from something like a job I hate or something else miserable in my life. No, there is nothing of the sort in my life. I just like to travel. I won’t be vacationing. I’ll be living. Here are some tips on how I am going to be able to pull this off.
1) Buy your tickets on Priceline.
I got this tip from guru life hacker, Tim Ferris. Use one of the many travel sights to find the cheapest ticket you can find, like cheaptickets.com. Once you have found the best price you can go to Priceline.com and use their “name your own price” feature to bid on the same flight for half the best price you found. Last time I did this they rejected my offer but came back with a price only $50 higher. That made my ticket price $300 cheaper than the cheapest ticket I could find on the net.
The key here is to be flexible. Getting a ticket in your price range may mean you’ll have to depart as early as 6am or as late as 10pm. Totally worth it to me. Also, keep in mind that these cheap flights are cheap because the seats are empty and airlines would rather fill them at a discount than not at all. So waiting as late as possible is better. Again, flexibility is key. You may not be able to get that bargain price for the day you want to travel and might have to put it off a day or two. This has yet to happen to me though.
2) Travel for at least a month.
Why? Because living in the U.S. is expensive. The longer you are away, the less you have to spend on your normal daily grind. Let’s look at your monthly budget associated with your cost of living when you are at home; water, gas, and electric bills for starters. How much will you save not using any of these for a whole month? What about groceries and dinning out? Yeah you have to eat but you won’t need anywhere near what your monthly budget is for food in the U.S. compared to a place like Mexico or Thailand. Possibly the biggest savings you’ll get while away for a month is from gasoline! Not driving for a month will save you hundreds of dollars. For me, the fact that I am not going to drive for a month will save me enough money to pay for the apartment I am going to rent. Traveling for an entire month frees up the dollars you were going to use anyway only now, you can use them in another country.
The longer you travel the cheaper your plane ticket is. Well, not really but if you divide your plane ticket cost the by the amount of days you are actually gone, your daily average cost will drop for every additional day you are on your trip. $700 plane ticket divided by 7 is $100 a day. Same plane ticket divided by 30? $23 a day!
3) Live like a local, not a tourist.
I avoid tourist traps like they are, well, traps! To me, being able to do what I would do in the states but just in a different country is enough. That means having coffee, going for walks, going to the gym or yoga, or just having a beer. Tours and zip lines and blah blah blah just aren’t my thing. This saves me a lot of money. Typically, you will find there are two prices for everything, what tourists pay and what locals pay. Speak or at least make the attempt to speak the local language and you can find yourself at the bar where beers are half the price compared to where the tourist are.
4) Rent an apartment.
Hostels are cheap but I like my privacy. Renting an apartment is the best thing I ever did. Since you followed tip number 2 it will be a lot easier to find a place. Landlords are more than happy to rent a place for long term at a discounted price compared to short term at a higher rate. Apartments usually come furnished with utilities, internet, and sometimes a cleaning included. You can’t beat the price. Plus, it allows you to follow tip number 3 and 5.
Finding a place on the internet is easy and convenient but if you really want to find a deal wait till you arrive in country. Landlords who use the internet know they are getting a lot more exposure and their price reflect it. It still may be a good price but the place being advertised via a flyer at the local coffee shop will be just as nice at HALF the cost.
This goes right along with tips 3 and 4 and will save you a ton. On the first leisure trip I ever took, I met a couple staying at the same place who cooked their meals in the communal kitchen. At the time I thought they were weird. I was like, hey this is vacation let’s go out to eat. What I didn’t realize is that these people were doing it right. I now understand that they were on, what was probably, a several month long trip and were saving on luxuries to make it so.
Everything is cheaper at the grocery store. You don’t have to go outside the U.S. to know this.