I feel excitedly optimistic about the travel opportunities that exist today, the possibilities to visit places that once seemed beyond our financial reach. So much so, I hope what I am telling you now will spark a travel adventure for you and make you see opportunities to travel where impossibilities once were for you. I woke up this morning in London, a city I have dreamed of since childhood and I can’t believe that I am actually here. I sit in the cutest little flat in London sipping tea at 6am listening to the birds sing outside my window feeling stunned and overjoyed.
We had never planned to visit London. The point of this Expat Experiment is to visit the low cost of living countries and decide if want to stay a while. London didn’t make the cut initially, too expensive. I didn’t explore cheap travel to London, I didn’t believe it was possible.
Rob and I are both bloodhounds for an opportunity and when we find a good one it a mix of adrenalin to act and endorphin’s when we catch a good one! Ten months of travel has exposed us to many opportunities, this has opened our minds to more possibilities for travel.
An extremely cheap flight lured us to change up our travel itinerary and push the limits of what was possible for us for travel. At this moment, I feel shock, awe, joy…..excitement. I feel so excited to share what I think is a big deal with you.
There are expensive travel destinations all over the world. A lot of places that sit on our wishlists and stay just a place on the list because we can’t afford to travel there now or ever, depending on your financial situation or your mindset.
The crazy thing is you can travel well for a lot less today, create your own amazing trip for 40%, 50% 60% less than what you could pay. It just takes a little determination and know how. Trips as good as or better than a travel agent could book, better than a resort, better than staying in an expensive hotel in my opinion.
I wrote an article for Lifehack.org in October about Eastern Europe. I researched 25 countries and was surprised at how affordable many of them were. Some European cities cheaper than cities in Colombia and as cheap as Otavalo in Ecuador. This made us start to reconsider Europe as an option and low and behold a week later Rob found a deal on plane tickets that were irresistible to us, Fort Lauderdale to London for $718 USD for all three of us!
We knew flights inside Europe can be extremely cheap so moving on from London to somewhere in Eastern Europe wouldn’t be a problem. There are many house-sitting opportunities in the U.K. as well so maybe we could afford to spend some time there too. We started to question whether it could be as affordable as or even less expensive in Europe than it was in South America. We researched and asked in forums and it sounded as though it was possible. We could visit Europe and stay within our budget so we booked the tickets!
We applied and were successful in finding a house sit close to London in Bury St. Edmunds a week after our flight was to arrive as well, a week of free accommodation. Perfect except for spending a week in London. It would be great if we had lots of money but we don’t so we were terrified at the prospect of booking a hotel in or even near London because costs can be astronomical!
We turned to our favorite form of accommodation Airbnb and managed to find a great apartment in West Hampstead for 36% less than the price of an average hotel room. An entire apartment in a trendy neighborhood close to shopping, pubs, and the tube. All told accommodation and flights $1872 for two weeks in the U.K including train tickets to and from Bury St. Edmunds! We could have easily spent 60% more, between flights and accommodation, but a discount airline, Airbnb booking and a house sit made cheap travel to London possible.
I can honestly say staying in local neighborhoods with Airbnb in popular tourist destinations lets you enjoy the best of both worlds: You save so much money on food and eating out in areas away from tourist central. Stay close to public transportation and travel to the tourist attractions. We enjoy being able to escape the craziness of busy tourist areas after a long day exploring and save serious money because of that.
Booking discount flights with connections through affordable airports like Fort Lauderdale has netted us huge savings. We had to fly from Panama to catch our London Flight from Fort Lauderdale. Even with that connection, it was less than $1500 USD for all three of us! We could have easily paid $4500 for our flights to London.
I think back on trips we’ve taken in the past and remember a feeling we felt many times staying in hotels and eating in tourist traps. That feeling was disappointment, disappointment in value for the price in both hotel rooms and restaurants. Staying with Airbnb has changed all of that for us. We have stayed with Airbnb 10 times now and felt we received excellent value for the money every time. Especially here in West Hampstead.
There are ways to travel to places that you may think are too expensive. There are opportunities to save a lot of money to make vacations more affordable, book connecting flights through affordable airports, sign up with a house sitting platform, take a look at Airbnb offerings in the city you want to visit.
You may be able to visit that destination on your wish list with less financial strain than you thought. Where do you want to go? There are opportunities to save and I hope you take advantage of one as good or better than we did to visit those special places on your list.