Too many people make excuses for not traveling due to money, time, or just not knowing how to put all the details together. So in this interview series, I plan to show how real people make frequent travel possible by sharing some of their best tips and secret strategies for making travel easy and affordable.
Today’s travel tips come from Jen, author of the blog, The Trusted Traveller, where she provides practical tips, travel inspiration, and incredibly helpful itineraries for various cities and countries around the world.
A little bit about Jen
I was born and raised in beautiful Sydney Australia, where I currently live with my husband Mick. I work full time in administration to help pay the bills and fund my shoe collection, but most of all, to fulfill my need to one day visit every corner of the world. Usually the destination or purpose of the trip determines my travel style. If I’m after some rest and relaxation I like to stay somewhere flash but if I’m on a long trip you’ll find me in a hostel. Together with Mick, I’ve visited over 100 cities, towns and regions in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and USA. This list is growing fast as I try to discover something new, whether it is in my own backyard or in a faraway land using my 20 days annual leave, weekends and public holidays to the max. My website, The Trusted Traveller, exists to provide others with reliable travel tips and inspiration to get them out there seeing the world in the most prepared way possible.
Best tips for making travel easy and affordable
Best tip for balancing travel with life’s obligations
Travel is my number one priority. I believe that if you want to do something bad enough you’ll make it work no matter what the circumstances are. I use my 20 days of annual leave, weekends and public holidays smartly by joining long weekends with a few extra days of leave to make a longer holiday and saving up days over a year for longer trips. I’ve also been known to quit my job to travel on more than one occasion, which just goes to show how much travel really means to me.
Best resource for making travel easier or cheaper
Nothing beats a good old Lonely Planet Guide Book for me. I still buy a hardcopy book for all of my international trips and use it before and during my trip to plan. They are the perfect place to start your planning because they contain all the top things to see and do in a place so you know what you shouldn’t miss out on. I also use them for restaurant and bar suggestions when I am on the road. I haven’t had a bad recommendation yet!
Best tip for finding affordable airfare
Because I love to plan and be organized, I tend to find the best deals about 9 months ahead of my trip. This is when I find the airlines general have their biggest sales. I have my favourite airlines so if I am planning to go somewhere in the next year I sign up for the airlines newsletters to be alerted when the sales are on and monitor the prices over the course of a few months. When a sale comes up I usually check websites like SkyScanner, WebJet and Kayak for a better deal before booking direct with the airline.
Best tip for finding hotels/hostels/rentals
I mostly stay in hostels when I travel and I find the best place to start looking for a good hostel is HostelWorld. I like their rating system and usually go on their site, search for my destination and narrow the search field so that only hostels with 80% or higher ratings are shown. I don’t bother reading reviews because everyone has different expectations and levels of comfort. From there I check out each hostel left on the list on the map view, eliminating any outside of the area I’d like to stay in and then I start looking at prices. The final step is comparing the prices on HostelWorld direct with the hotels themselves and booking whatever is the cheapest or is offering the best deal in terms of inclusions that suit me.
Best tip for travel with limited vacation time
Use weekends and public holidays! If you only have 10 days leave then use it around a public holiday giving you an extra day or two of holiday. Those 10 days of leave can turn into a 17/18 day holiday if planned around weekends. I also suggest maximizing your time by flying out on the Friday night after work so when you arrive either later that night or the next morning you have a full day ahead of you.
Best destination for people on a budget
South East Asia is a popular destination for those on a budget. I’ve stayed in world class hotels in Bangkok and Siem Reap for less than a private room in a hostel in New Zealand. And not only is the accommodation cheap in SE Asia, the food is too and plentiful.
Best travel deal you’ve scored and how you found it
When I was living in London back in 2012 I scored at £1.00 flight on Wizz Air to Budapest. Mind you it was one of those £1.00 fares that you still had to pay taxes on but it still cost us less than £50.00 each. I found the fare basically by monitoring all of the airlines that fly from London to Budapest for a few month. I knew that I wanted to go there but I had no set dates and was just looking for the best deal. One day an email from Wizz Air landed in my inbox and 10 minutes later it was booked.
Best advice for someone who wants to travel but is worried about cost or time restrictions
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that if you want to do something bad enough you’ll make it work no matter what the circumstances are. There are always ways you can cut your living and lifestyle expenses and while each way might not look like it’s saving you much, all added together the difference can be huge. And as for time restrictions, why not travel to places that are closer to home so you have more quality time in your destination and less travel time. Fly overnight or take overnight sleeper trains. Use all of your available time off to the max and that includes weekends and public holidays.
A little inspiration, just for fun
What is it about travel that makes it worth the expense and effort?
The element of discovery is what makes it all worth it to me. Travel lets you discover new places, amazing sights, stunning scenery, meet new people, taste new foods and broaden your mind on the life of other cultures. Not a day goes by where I regret a single moment or cent travelling and discovering.
What’s your dream destination and why haven’t you made it there yet?
The ultimate for me would be to visit Antarctica. I think because only something like 2% of the world’s population has ever ventured there, makes it more appealing to me to be one of the few to be able to explore it. Cost is a big factor in why I haven’t been there yet but one day I’ll find a way.
Most ridiculous thing you’ve seen or experienced while traveling?
The most ridiculous scenarios I have come across in my travels have been when I have been somewhere with other travelers, whether it be in a group with them or just nearby, and I hear them complaining about the place they are in. I just don’t understand why anyone would travel half way across the world and spend their hard earned savings to sit and complain about this not being as good as at home or that not being what they are used to. Travel is not about doing what you do at home, it’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone, even just slightly, to experience something new.
Check out The Trusted Traveller and follow along on Jen’s social media pages to keep up to date on her travels and adventures:
Do you have some great travel tips that you’d like to share as a part of my Best Travel Tips interview series? If so, send me a message through my contact form or email me at email@example.com.