Hotels are definitely the most common type of accommodation when traveling the world but they’re also the most expensive option. I typically only use hotels when I’m in a major city for a couple of days or when I’m on a road trip and need to stop in a small town off the highway. However, hotels are common and plentiful, which make them an easy choice wherever you go.
Below are some websites that make booking hotels easy and cheap:
This is your basic hotel booking site with large amounts of inventory all over the world. What I like is that they also include some hostels, which gives many cheaper options. [Read more…] about The Best Way to Book Hotels Around the World
The Best Way to Book Bus Travel Around the World
I’ve had a wide range of bus trips during my many travels. I’ve traveled on extremely comfortable buses across Asia with beds aboard and I’ve taken luxurious first-class buses throughout Colombia and South America. On the other hand, I’ve also taken my fair share of horrible bus rides complete with cockroaches, chickens, smelly sweat, and mechanical breakdowns. If you plan on backpacking or visiting remote locations, long-distance buses are probably the main mode of transportation that you’ll be using. Some bus trips will likely become what some call “a trip from hell” while some bus trips will be simply amazing, with beds and individual TVs. While most bus trips are easy to book from within the country, there are some websites to help you get started, depending on where you are. [Read more…] about How to Travel the World by Bus
The Best Way to Book Cheap Flights
Once you have a destination in mind, it might be time to find a flight. If you’re like most people, you’re probably looking to find the best deal. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.
Below are the best options for finding the cheapest flight.
Skyscanner is my go-to tool for finding cheap flights anywhere in the world. Skyscanner does a good job at scanning different booking engines, which enables you to search multiple sites in a matter of minutes. If you value things like flight duration, flight times and so forth, there are features that bring these options into the results. If you find a flight you like, you’ll simply be redirected to the site that’s offering the fare. No charge. Not ready to book? No problem. You can also choose to get price alerts, which means Skyscanner will email you when a better deal comes up.
If the flight is offered through one airline (not multiple airlines), consider checking the price on the airline’s website first.
Although travel has been a passion of mine for many years now, luxury was never really part of the equation. Sure, I like a little bit of bling bling now and then but I’m the kind of guy who’d rather be sleeping in a tent in the mountains than living it up in a 5-star hotel (most of the time, anyway). So it was somewhat odd to recently find myself sitting first class on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Houston. Not just any Emirates flight either – the A380. The Cream of the crop. The golden goose of travel hacking.
After having breakfast in the Emirates first class lounge (included with the flight), my wife and I both boarded the luxurious aircraft for a 17-hour trans-Atlantic flight. It’s a long haul flying over the Middle East, Europe, the Atlantic ocean, and most of the US in one jaunt but it was made all the better by sitting in pure luxury.
Although the lounge was nothing short of spectacular, the fun really began when I was shown to my private suite. It was very flashy with wood and gold trimming surrounding the interior, which fits perfectly with the Emirates style. After settling into my extremely spacious suite, I began to look around at all the amenities and gadgets I had within reach; My own little electronically controlled min-bar that could be hidden when unwanted, a vanity mirror, high quality creams and lotions, a writing kit, and best of all; a 27 inch flat-screen TV. 27 inches! Incredible.
As I began to play around with all my findings, I found the button for the window blinds. Not only did I have three of my own windows for looking out over the clouds but they also had an electronic shade system rather than the normal pull-down plastic ones. I just had to click a button and they would – very beautifully I might add – open and close. It’s difficult to describe bit you can watch the video. I love small details like this. Then the flight attendant came by with my free travel kit, which included a handsome leather Bvlgari case, Bvlgari cologne and creams, underarm deodorant, slippers and a complete set of pajamas. It was a 17-hour flight I wish had been longer.
But that’s not all. There was also a massive bathroom with shower spa. I didn’t even know it was possible to shower at 40,000 feet but I was certainly happy to try it out. Showers are always refreshing but there’s something magical about having one 40,000 feet in the air and three hours before arriving in a new country. After watching a movie and enjoying some first class meals such as caviar, traditional Arabic mezze, and roast beef fillet, I put my pajamas on and went to the bar. Yes, an onboard bar. Since all drinks are free, I tried some Dom Pérignon, Hennessy, and a classic mojito while mingling with other people from all over the world. When in Rome, right?
But how did a backpacker-style adventure traveller like myself land himself in Emirates first class?
Easy. Travel hacking.
As many of you know by now (if you’re regular readers of Live Limitless that is), I’m a hardcore travel hacker. For years, I’ve put a priority on frequent flyer miles by learning how to earn large quantities of them quickly, and more importantly, how to redeem them for maximum value.
In this case above, I used Alaska miles. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a very special mileage program because although they don’t officially belong to a major alliance, they are partners with many airlines around the world such as Emirates. Normally, I would be using Aeroplan for a trip like this but since we were going to be in India (relatively close to Dubai), I looked into Emirates flights via Alaska airlines and found that for just 90,000 Alaska miles and $89 in taxes, I could fly first class from Kolkata to Dubai, enjoy a “free” 4-day stopover in the luxurious city, and then fly first class on the incredible A380 from Dubai to Houston before flying first class again on Alaska Airlines from Houston back to Canada.
Since I’m always collecting as much points as I can, I began building up my Alaska mile balance over the last couple of years by applying for Alaska-affiliated credit cards (a new card usually comes with 25,000 points just for signing up) and allotting my everyday spending to those cards. At the time of booking, however, I had only 80,000 points in my account so I took advantage of their 30% sale on purchasing miles and paid approximately $250 for the last 10,000 miles that I needed. The taxes were only $89.
Not bad for a $15,000 one-way flight.
Since going to a new country is what excites me most, I’m more than happy to fly in economy but since I earn hundreds of thousands of miles each and every year, I thought I’d see what the front of the plane looks like. I’ve now flown business class around the world for $750 (literally, around the world), business class throughout the South Pacific, and now, first-class from the Middle East.
What do I want to do next in terms of travel hacking? Well, I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Emirates VS Etihad, so perhaps I need to fly first-class on Etihad via their famous “apartments” class. Now that sounds epic.
All pictures above were taken by me. You can follow me on Instagram. www.Instagram.com/MatthewGBailey
If you’re Canadian, I also run the #1 travel hacking site in Canada; CanadianFreeFlyers.com.
I’m not usually one for making new year resolutions. I find it silly to wait until the end of the year to promise positive change when it can be started at any moment. However, after reading about Chris Guillebeau and his annual review, I began to look at it differently.
An annual review is not the same as new year resolutions. For me, it’s a chance to reflect over the last year and be grateful for all the beautiful things that happened. It’s a chance to remember all the amazing experiences but also a chance to reflect on what didn’t go as planned. After the reflection, you can do a brief plan for the year ahead. I like to leave a lot of room for spontaneity so my plans only serve as a direction for the upcoming months.
Regardless of whether you like to plan ahead or not, it’s always a good idea to reflect on the past year. I’m often surprised at how much I actually accomplished and the pros usually outweigh the cons, which is always nice to see.
So here it is…