HOW TO TRAVEL IN STYLE WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE
Updated: May 19
Everything you need to know about exploring the best spots around the globe comfortably, without breaking the bank.
What will you learn? This article is tailored to U.S. citizens and Canadians, who desire:
A deep understanding of world travel. Travel options that save money without compromising comfort and style. Knowledge of what to expect when traveling to different locations. Knowledge of how to prepare for travel to the world’s top destinations, including Rio, Sydney, Cancun, Hawaii, the Canary Islands and many others.
A deep desire for exploration and adventure. Willingness to learn and put knowledge into practice. Be a U.S. or Canadian citizen.
Like most people, you probably have a desire to see all that the world has to offer. From tropical beach paradises and far flung rural hideaways to bustling cities and captivating landmarks, there’s much to see. You just have to get out there. But there are a lot of things that may be stopping you. It could be the high costs of plane fares, a lack of time, fear of visiting some countries (weather conditions, violence, etc.), fear of traveling alone, or maybe you just haven’t given traveling much more than a passing thought.
Whatever it is, it’s time to overcome all that and just do it. And it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, what your family set up is (such as having pets ;-)), or if you have a travel partner. This article has been designed to empower you to travel, regardless of your current lifestyle.
I will show you how to travel and live your best life while truly becoming a world citizen. I’m an adventurous soul, who has mastered the delicate art of traveling to some of the world’s most exotic locations while on a shoestring budget. In the past five years alone, I have traveled to the Canary Islands, Switzerland, California, Missouri, New York, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, among others.
Some of the things you will learn include tips on how to:
Get the best hotel rates. Find lower fares. Get increased chances for free upgrades
The world is at your feet and begging to be explored, plus life is too short to keep on putting it off. It’s time to start living your adventures. Join me on a journey of a lifetime and learn how to travel.
Who is this article for?
Working adults who desire to see the world. Entrepreneurs with a craving to check out diverse cultures. Anyone who wants to know how to travel the world, really.
Introduction: Hi, I’m Mylene, an entrepreneur and travel enthusiast. I have traveled to 10+ countries since I was 17, experiencing cultures ranging from the diverse mix of the Canary Islands to the hidden interiors of South America.
During this time, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks on how to make the most of limited funds without compromising on the fun factor. It wasn’t too long before I started sharing the things I had learned with friend and family members, who have expressed gratitude for now being able to explore their favorite spots around the world without having to pay an arm and a leg on travel costs. It’s for this reason why I developed this 'free course' with the assistance of my acquaintance, to help you out as well. The world was meant to be explored, and it can be done by anyone who has the desire, even without having a lot of money. You just need to know how to travel and here is how…
Document checklist for travel
The two main documents you will need for traveling abroad are:
Passport. You will need to check to make sure it’s not expired. Some countries won’t allow you entry if your passport has less than six months remaining before it expires.Visa if required. Currently, holders of American passports can enter 174 countries, either totally visa-free, or with a visa upon arrival. On the other hand, Canadian passports can access 172 countries either totally visa-free or with a visa upon arrival.
How to find out which countries you can travel to without a visa.
As a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you can get entry to most countries with just your passport. In fact, both these passports are ranked among the top 10 most powerful in the world. But there are still a number of countries which require you to get a visa beforehand. If you’re not sure as to whether a visa is required for a particular country, there are a few reputable websites you can check. These include:
G3 Global Services
Some of the countries where U.S. citizens require a visa for entry include: Australia, China, Brazil, India, Kenya, Indonesia, and Russia.
Some of the countries where Canadian citizens require a visa for entry include: Nigeria, Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan, Cameroon, Cuba, and China.
How to apply and acquire visas for countries that require you to get them
For some countries, applying for a visa can be done online, while for others, you’ll need to visit the consulate office in your home country and apply. You can find out what you need to do in a number of ways:
Check the yellow pages if there is a consulate office near you for the country you want to visit. Check online if the consulate office for the country you want to visit has a website that allows you to apply for their visa.
To find out the respective procedures for applying for a particular country’s visa, you can use the following websites:
Health – which countries you should get certain vaccinations for
Before booking your flight, you will want to check your vaccination record against the vaccination list of the country you’re planning to visit. Most countries want to know you’re vaccinated against common diseases that can be transmitted by visitors. Failure to get vaccinated (and be able to show proof) can result in you being denied entry.
Common travel vaccines for American and Canadian travelers:
Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Yellow Fever, Meningococcal disease, Japanese Encephalitis, Typhoid and paratyphoid fever.
Where to find info about travel vaccines as required in each country:
You can find out travel vaccination requirements for almost any country you plan to visit using websites such as TravelVax.
American citizens can find info regarding travel vaccines and updates on any current disease outbreak in a particular country by visiting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
Canadians can find the corresponding info by visiting the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
Safety concerns – where to check if your destination is safe
When traveling abroad, your safety and security should be your number one concern. No matter the reputation of your destination, anything can happen at any time, so you want to be aware of the websites and apps you can use to get up to date information and advisories on the country you’re traveling to. You want to check just before you book your flight and right after you leave because conditions can change rather quickly.
Things you want to know:
Weather/climate conditions (Caribbean countries have a hurricane season – June 1 to November 30),
Cultural and religious norms
If there are disease outbreaks of any type.
Pet preparation (vet certificate, vaccines)
There are several steps to follow if you plan on taking along your little furry friend (or other type of pet) when traveling overseas. Every country has health and safety requirements that your pet has to meet before they can be allowed entry. The most common requirements for your pet to be allowed in a country include:
That it is fully vaccinated. That it has been blood tested for certain diseases.That it has been microchipped.
Entry requirements change from time to time, so it’s a good idea to verify with the country you plan to visit. One website you can use to check is: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel
Steps to get your pet ready for traveling
Visit the vet to ensure vaccination is up to date and tests done to determine that your pet is disease-free. Some countries might require additional vaccines which your pet will need to get before it can be allowed entry.Acquire an approved crate/carrier for your pet.Research all requirements relevant to country that you plan to visit with your pet.Ensure you find hotels that are pet-friendly before making a booking.If your pet is not a cat or dog, find out if the visiting country considers your animal to be a pet.
Note: Airlines will also have their own set of requirements for carrying pets (some don’t allow pets to travel during the hot summer months, for instance), so you need to research and verify the details with the one you plan to use prior to booking your flight.
There are travel insurances that let you cancel for any reason. Regular travel insurances cover you for very limited conditions.
While you want your trip to be perfect, there are a number of things that can go wrong. Travel insurance exists to mitigate costs associated with mishaps, but not all travel insurance packages are the same. Things you might need your travel insurance policy to cover:
Trip/flight cancellations (for any reason). Lost or stolen luggage. Loss of equipment/gadgets/other important property. Lost or stolen passport. Natural disasters causing you to lose property. Injury resulting from terrorist actions. Medical emergencies. Healthcare that applies to country you’re visiting.
Things to find out before purchasing a policy
The full extent of coverageWho and what is covered/excluded. If policy can be upgraded/downgraded if your needs change. Length of time for payouts and what is required. If policy covers a single trip or a period of time (annually for several trips/year, for example). If rates are different for group insurance (if you plan to travel with a group). If kids are covered free.
Note: some credit cards provide travel insurance as add-on benefits. Be sure to check with your credit card provider to find out if yours does and what it covers before taking out travel insurance with an individual company.
5 Popular travel insurance providers:
TravelSafe: https://www.travelsafe.com/ (recommended for low prices, offers insurance to both U.S. and Canadian residents) Travelex: https://www.travelex.com/ (recommended for international travelers visiting various countries, provides coverage for citizens of various countries, including U.S. and Canada). Allianz: https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com/ (recommended for family coverage) SafeTrip: https://www.uhcsafetrip.com (recommended for those who indulge in extreme sports while on vacation, such as bungee jumping, skiing, rock climbing, etc. Available to U.S. and Canadian residents) John Hancock: https://www.johnhancocktravel.com/ (recommended for solo American travelers).
Flights and transportation
How to find the lowest plane tickets
Popular flight search engines to help U.S. and Canadian travelers find the cheapest airline tickets
Skyscanner: https://www.skyscanner.net Cheapoair: https://www.cheapoair.com Momondo: https://global.momondo.com Airfare Watchdog: https://www.airfarewatchdog.com Hotwire: https://www.hotwire.com/flights
Tips for finding the lowest fares
Search using incognito browser windows (repeated route searches can return increased airline ticket prices due to website cookies being stored on your device).
Use a laptop/desktop device if possible for some flight booking websites.
Check several flight search engines to compare prices.
Check prices on different days of the week. Tickets might be more expensive on Sundays, compared to weekdays.
After finding lowest price on flight search engine, check airline website to compare prices; some airlines have deals going on from time to time which might be cheaper. Some hotel booking websites such as Expedia also offer travel bundles that combine airfare, accommodation, and even car rental.
Follow airline social media pages so you know when deals are being offered.
Sign up for a credit card that offers travel points, either with a particular airline or one that earns you points generally. With enough points, it’s possible to book a flight entirely free. Research peak travel times when ticket costs will be higher, relative to destination. Among the destinations most frequently visited by Americans and Canadians include the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Brazil, as well as Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Dominican Republic. Generally, air fares to these destinations are highest at the start of the winter season in December and at the height of summer in July. You’re likely to find lower fares for these countries between February and April and at the end of summer going into Fall. To find out which destinations are cheaper during particular months or seasons, use Hopper (https://www.hopper.com/) or Kiwi (https://www.kiwi.com/).
How to find transportation from airport to hotel
Check if the hotel you’re staying with offers airport pickup as part of your accommodation fee. Many hotels, including some of the all-inclusive chains, will arrange pickup and drop off. There are companies that allow you to book airport shuttle. These include GO Airport Shuttle and Car Service (https://goairportshuttle.com/) and SuperShuttle (https://www.supershuttle.com/) You can also use a rental service that you can book ahead if you plan to drive your own car.
Flying with a pet
The conditions and requirements surrounding flying with a pet has more to do with the airline than where you are flying from. Assuming that you have done your research about getting pets ready for travel to a particular country (mentioned earlier), here is what you will need to do in order to keep your pets safe during travel.
Check if airline allows traveling with pets. Check airline requirements and restrictions for carrying pets (size of kennel, maximum weight, number of pets allowed, etc.)Find out if there is an additional charge and how much. Find out where your pet will be stored (under your seat or in a different compartment of the plane).
Finding out which destinations have lower rates & which seasons
Like plane tickets, hotel rates fluctuate throughout the year based mainly on seasons. However, some destinations continuously rank among the cheapest, regardless of season. If you haven’t picked a travel destination as yet and looking to see where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, you will need to do some research.
Historically, according to Oyster.com and statista.com, the cheapest destination regions, based on average hotel rates, are ranked as follows:
Asia Pacific – Americas – Europe – Middle East and Africa (going from cheapest to most expensive).
Since it’s an average, there will be destinations on the low end and others on the higher side within each region.
Currently, destinations where Canadians and Americans often travel, and which are considered among the cheapest for their hotel rates include: Bali, Mexico, China, Czech Republic, South Korea, and Turkey.
How to find cheap hotel rates
The best way to find cheap hotels is to check out hotel booking websites. The most popular of these sites include Hotwire.com, Booking.com, and Hotels,com.
*Tip: For hotels.com, it’s best to download and use the mobile app because you can get 5% off the rates of most hotels if you make your booking through the app.
*Tip 2: Double check the rate on booking website with rates on the actual website of the hotel. Properties have specials sometimes that might be cheaper than what’s being offered on the booking site.
*Tip 3: Some worldwide hotel chains (Hilton, Marriott, etc.) allow guests to accumulate points each time they stay in one of their hotels, which can then be used for free hotel stays and discounts.
Before booking with a hotel, you want to check what customers are saying about them. Don’t rely only on the rating level shown on booking websites.. It’s best to check for actual customer ratings that might be found on the hotel’s website or on independent rating sites such as TripAdvisor and Oyster.
Hotels are rated on their room sizes, number of amenities, and extra features. However, ratings vary across the board. When it comes on to European destinations vs destinations in Latin America, for instance, there is a distinct disparity between the rating systems. Top rated hotels in Europe carry a maximum of 4 stars while their Western counterparts top out at 5 stars. Booking websites, in return, often apply their own rating scales, so it’s best to get feedback from customer reviews to get a more accurate picture as to what to expect.
Finding pet friendly hotels
If you’re traveling with your pet, you want to ensure the hotel you’re staying will be willing to accommodate your pet as well. You also want to find out if there is an extra fee for having a pet. All this can be found out by contacting hotels you’re interested in. In the meantime, here are 10 hotel chains that have pet friendly locations:
Holiday Inn La Quinta Candlewood Suites Marriott Best Western Properties under the Choice Hotels International brand Crowne Plaza Properties under the Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts brand W Hotels Worldwide Westin Hotels & Resorts
These chains have many properties in various countries around the world and each often have to conform to the particular country’s laws, so it’s recommended to call ahead to confirm before making a booking.
Alternatives to traditional hotels
It is often difficult to enjoy the culture of a destination and explore its best parts when you stay at traditional hotels, including the all-inclusive chains. One way to make your trip more immersive is to book with bed and breakfasts, hostels, as well as take advantage of programs that allow you to stay with families at their homes.
How to find these opportunities:
Use Airbnb.com, which allows you to find and book bed and breakfast properties worldwideHomestay (similar to Airbnb)Connect with official tour companies, some of which work with hotels and inns and can recommend places to stay, as well as offering you package deals that include tours and accommodationCheck the classified ads in the destination you’re planning to visit. Many small properties don’t have websites of their own and advertise on other portals instead. Kijiji in Canada is one example.
Transportation is an important aspect of learning how to travel efficiently. You might feel the need to rent a car, for whatever reason, while traveling overseas. There are a number of bases you need to cover before you can drive in a foreign country. Preparation is key before you get on the flight. Things to know beforehand:
Learn the rules of the road in the country you’re planning on visiting (such as what side of the road to drive on and who has the right of way at a roundabout). You can usually find this information on the consular website of the country you’re traveling to.How insurance will be covered. Your local insurance coverage will likely not apply in most foreign countries (check with your provider to make sure, though), so you’ll either need to purchase insurance from the car rental company at the time of renting or use a credit card that provides some form of insurance. Either way, check to make sure your choice of insurance provides at least minimum coverage requirements in the country you’re visiting.Estimated fuel cost. The price of petrol varies from country to country, so you want to research the average gas prices in the country you plan to visit, so you can have a rough idea of how much you’ll spend on gas during your stay.Pickup and drop-off arrangement, so you know how and where to get your car when you arrive, as well as when and where to return it. What’s the minimum or maximum age allowed for renting cars in the country you’re visiting? In some countries, you have to be between the ages of 25 and 70 to be permitted to rent a car. In some cases, you might be charged an extra fee if you fall outside of this age range.Type of cars being rented, including whether you can get manual or automatic, sub-compact or large cars, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. This information is important, especially if you only know how to drive either automatic or stick shift – and not both – or want a car with lots of legroom/trunk space, or one that can go off-road without problems.Whether you need a driver’s license permit or can get by with your regular driver’s license. Americans and Canadians are generally allowed to use their drivers’ licenses as regular permits to drive when visiting other English-speaking countries. For other destinations, you will need to acquire and present an International Driving Permit (IDP).
An IDP is a document that translates your information into 10 languages. You can use it in over 100 different countries.
How to get an IDP
You have to be over 18 years-old and already have a US or Canadian driver’s license.An IDP has to be issued in your home country, so get it before booking your flight. Americans can apply for an IDP from the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For Canadians, it is the Canadian Automobile Association. Any other issuing body of an IDP is usually a scam.
Finding the best car rental rates and saving money
Research prices of different car rental companies and compare. Popular car rental companies operating internationally include Budget, Alamo, Avis, Hertz, Dollar, Enterprise, and Thrifty.Choose the smallest car that will possibly meet your needs. The larger the car, the higher the rental fee.Check for special discounts and promotions that might not necessarily be shown on the rental agency’s website but can be accessed through travel apps such as Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia, and others. Some hotel booking sites, such as booking.com, even allow you to bundle car rental with room rates.Ask about AAA membership discounts, as well as frequent flier and credit card programs that may also allow you to get a percentage off your rental. Some car rental companies also offer discounts to senior citizens and members of special organizations, so be sure to ask.Make all rental arrangements before getting on the plane. It’s usually more costly to rent at the airport of the country you’re visiting.Find out about drop-off times (the exact time you’ll need to return the car). If you return the car even an hour later, you might be charged for an additional day.If you can drive stick-shift, look for manual cars to rent. Automatic cars are often more expensive than manuals, which means rental prices will also tend to be more costly when renting an automatic.
With that said…
Watch out for stick shift
In many European countries, including Italy, the UK, and Iceland, manual transmission cars are still more popular than automatic. In Canada and the United States, on the other hand, automatic cars are now more common, so many people only know how to drive those. You’ll need to confirm with the rental company at the time of booking what type of car you’ll be getting and request automatic if you can’t drive stick. Of course, you’ll be charged more for automatic.
Alternatives to traditional rental cars
Traditional car rental services can prove to be hassling and expensive. Popular alternatives include:
Zipcar: A car rental membership service that allows you to rent cars worldwide. Membership fee includes the cost of insurance, petrol, and allows you to drive up to 180 miles per day. You need to be a minimum age of 21 in order to rent a Zipcar outside your home country. Turo: Described as a peer-to-peer car rental service, Turo operates similarly to AirBnB, allowing you to rent other people’s cars through a mobile app. Users can negotiate where to pick up or drop off the car. The company provides insurance for its hosts, so you don’t have to worry about it. One of the advantages of Turo is that you’re not limited to the types of cars you can rent.
How to get free upgrades for hotels, flights, and car rentals
Upgrading your flight for free. Sign up for airline royalty programsDress well and show up on time. A professional attitude and look can go a long way in landing you into first class.Give up your seat. An act of chivalry or kind gesture, such as giving up your seat to accommodate a family, could rub airline staff the right way and see you being escorted to first class.Use designated airline credit cardsLook for promotional opportunities to buy points on the airline’s websitesFly on weekends when business class seats are more likely to be availableCheck for open first class seats when the cabin door shuts. If there is, ask the flight attendant nicely if you can move up.Just ask nicely. Although less rare, it is possible that you could be upgraded by simply asking the flight attendant.
Upgrading your hotel
Join a loyalty scheme with a hotel chain or brand. If you travel frequently, you may get several free upgrades per year.Sign up with a booking site. Some websites will automatically upgrade you for the same price if a better room becomes available after your original booking.Just ask nicely and discreetly at the front desk. You’re more likely to get an upgrade by asking the concierge rather than the receptionist.Negotiate over the phone. While online booking is more convenient, it doesn’t allow for negotiation. Speaking to someone directly while booking allows you to negotiate for an upgraded room at the same price.Notify the hotel that your stay is a special occasion. If it’s your birthday or anniversary, many hotels will gladly upgrade your room for free.
Upgrading your car rental
Quote another company’s rates. Sales reps at car rental agencies will try to at least match the price you quote.Check for upgrade promotions on the car rental’s website. Discount and coupon sites such as Kcarrental.com and CarRentalUpgrade.com can also help you to get upgrades.Book your rental when the lot is empty, for example, on a Monday morning. If the company does not have the class car you’re requesting at the time, they might upgrade you to something else for the same price.Just ask nicely.
Other travel hacks/tips
Get a portable phone charger. Scan your passport and email a copy to yourself. Also take screenshots of confirmations, such as flight or hotel bookings. Roll your clothes to save space when packingPut underwear, socks and belts in your shoes to save spaceMark your luggage as “fragile”Save Google Maps offline to use when there is no Wi-FiDownload Google Translate offline to use in countries where you might not be familiar with the languageCover razors with binder clips. Keep empty water bottles that can be refilled after passing through security instead of buying water at the airport. Sign up for Ebates, which allows you to get cash back on online purchases such as hotel and airline flight bookingsSearch for Wi-Fi passwords on FourSquare.
By Mylène Besançon