How to Travel Around the World on a Discount: Plane, Train and Metro

Yes, you want to see the world. After all, as St. Augustus said, “The world is a book and those that don’t travel only read one page.” At the same time, you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to see it. Fortunately, you don’t need to. There are a lot of things that you can do to make things cheaper. Here are a few of the best ways that I’ve found to make it all a bit cheaper and make it less of a burden on your wallet.

I’ve used all of these strategies myself, so I know that they work!

Let’s start by taking a look at flying

Flying

Personally, I use skyscanner. I know, there are a lot of other apps and tools out there that do the same – maybe even better. Still, whenever I compare them to skyscanner, I always find them more expensive and less useful. 

The reason that skyscanner is such a great tool is that you can look over a range of time, not fix your destination and even look for cheaper months to travel in. As long as you’ve got a little bit of leeway that can make your trip far cheaper.

Sometimes I’ll even turn things around. I’ll toggle my destination place as the place I’m flying from and then see where the cheapest flights go. Then I can turn that around, to see if prices are the same in the other direction (they often are). Then it’s just a matter of getting to that place and flying to my destination from there.

For example, that’s how I found out that if you want to go to Latin America from Europe, you should really go through Madrid.

Traveling credit cards

Also note that there are some traveling credit cards that can be hugely helpful. They will give you air miles, discounts at hotels and will even give you cheaper rates when you pull cash out of foreign cash machines.

That can make a huge difference if you’re trying to keep costs down. Some good ones to look into are:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. These guys will give you two air miles per $1 US spent and makes it easy to redeem them. Another bonus is that they don’t charge when you use them in a foreign cash machine.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You can redeem the air miles you get here in many different places. Again, they’ll give you two air miles for every 1 US spent on travel (it’s one for one everywhere else). Note that it does cost 95 US per year.

Not what you’re looking for? Then check out some other options and take your pick. The great thing is that they can work for other things as well, so you don’t just have to use them for travel. You can use them to get any service, from renting a car to paying dissertation writing service

Trains

Trains can often be quite expensive. One good way that I’ve found to reduce the cost on them is to take them at night. Often, they’re more comfortable than busses as you can go walk about and stretch your legs.

The reason they’re so useful during the night is that you won’t also need to pay for the hotel. Instead, you’ll take your journey and arrive wherever you wanted to go early in the morning with a full day ahead of you.

Of course, it isn’t exactly a hotel bed. For that reason, make sure you take:

  • An extra blanket. Sometimes these train people are nuts and try to create artic conditions on these trains. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve got additional blankets to make sure you don’t end up with frostbite.
  • Earplugs. You can’t control what the other people on the train will do. Some will sleep. Some will not. You don’t want that last group to decide for you whether you’re going to be able to get any shut eye.
  • A money belt. As you’re sleeping it can be hard to watch your things. I always sleep with my most important baggage in the bunk with me. Still, some people are light footed (and fingered) and might still be able to make off with your stuff. Though the chance is slight, it is still a good idea to have your most valuable documentation and your cash in a money belt on your person. That way you won’t get robbed while you’re abroad.
  • Sleeping pills. Particularly if you find sleeping under these kinds of conditions hard. It helps if you can actually get some real sleep. Then the day you arrive won’t be wasted with you trying to recover.

Metro

If you’re anywhere for even a little bit of time, make sure you get one of those local cards – you know, the plastic ones that you can charge up? Unless you’re planning to run around all day, every day, they’re a better deal than tourist cards of some kind. What’s more, when you’ve got one of them you don’t feel like you have to run around like an idiot, like you do with one of those tourist cards that gives you free travel for the whole day.

That means that if you want to take it easy for a day, you can actually do so instead of feeling all horrible and guilty. Now that piece of mind has to count for something, right?

Yes, you do have to put a little bit of money into getting yourself one of these cards, but almost always you can actually get it back. Even if you forget to return it or don’t have the time, you can generally find somebody else who is going who will gladly take it off your hands. 

Always ask the locals

The best way to get any kind of discount is to always ask the local people and – when you can – to take local transportation. Yes, the tourists busses are a lot easier, but they’re also often four to five times as expensive as the local variety.

Make sure that you’re willing to pay that.

There is no shame in asking people ‘how can I cheaply get from here to here?’ or ‘How would you get from here to there?’ And the advice that these people give you can save you serious cash. Of course, you’ll need to speak at least a little bit of the local language. Alternatively, try hands and feet. I’ve gotten pretty far with that on occasion.   

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