How to Travel Internationally for $1000 A Week (Or Less)
I choose to travel economically in order to travel more. Fortunately, there are many ways to enjoy a budget trip without sacrificing comfort and enjoyment, even if you travel solo. The tips and tricks below assume that you’re traveling independently, and not with a tour group. Prices are in US dollars.
Finding cheap flights
When it comes to finding cheap flights, flexibility is key. Typically, tickets are cheaper mid-week (Tuesday to Thursday) and possibly Saturday. Holiday periods are very expensive, but if you fly on the holiday itself (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter) you will find much cheaper prices.
Start with a flight aggregator like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Momondo. Select ±3 days in the calendar for both departure and return dates to see results that span a week. Skyscanner allows you to see the lowest fares over an entire month. If you must select a specific date, choose a Tuesday or Wednesday to see how low prices get.
Often, you will find the best prices on flights that depart very early or late, have a long layover, or multiple connections. Decide what you are willing to put up with. I personally don’t mind red-eye flights. I may even select a flight with a long layover and turn it into a stopover. And of course, I always fly economy.
The pricier the flight, the longer your trip should be in order to amortize the cost over several weeks. Since far-away destinations are usually more costly to reach, this also gives you more time to recover from jetlag!
For example, from Canada I may consider flying to Mexico for a week, but usually allocate at least two weeks for Europe, three weeks for South America, and four weeks or more for Asia, Australia or Africa. This way, I manage to keep my weekly flight cost to $350 or less.
My accommodation strategy these days consists of renting a room or apartment through AirBnB, which often comes out cheaper than a hotel room. Using the filters to see only listings from “superhosts” ensures a good experience. Start searching two to three months in advance for the best selection.
Another site I use is Booking.com. Once registered, you get savings of 10% off various properties (called “genius deals”). In most cases, you can cancel for free up until a few days before your stay. And you don’t have to make payments in advance as with AirBnB.
I can usually find a good room or even an apartment for $45 a day or less, using the above websites. Two people traveling together can double this amount.
Planning your meals
Renting an apartment or a room in someone’s house, instead of a hotel room, allows you to self-cater, greatly reducing your food costs. At a minimum, it’s easy to buy a few items at a nearby grocery store and prepare your own breakfast.
If spending time in a costly destination, eating either lunch or dinner at “home” will also help save money. Fortunately, expensive regions like Northern Europe and North America have grocery stores that provide decent prepared sandwiches, salads, and even meals that you can reheat in the microwave, if you’re not keen on cooking.
Of course, sampling the local cuisine is part of the fun of visiting a new destination. Having at least one meal out every day should still fit within the $1000/week budget. Local markets and small eateries offering set meals (usually lunch) are cheap options. Stay away from overpriced tourist restaurants near heavily trafficked areas, and instead use your guidebook to find something off the beaten path.
I try to limit my food expenses to $20-25 a day. This may not seem like much, but it’s easy to do in countries like Mexico, Thailand, or Serbia, even if you eat out for every meal. Iceland and Japan are more challenging of course.
Also remember that tipping at restaurants is mostly a North American custom. In much of the world, 5 to 10%, or just rounding up the check, is sufficient. In Japan, tipping is considered an insult!
In order to save money, focus on free attractions. It’s surprising the number of things you can do for free (or almost free) in a given city: walking tours, markets, exhibits, wine tastings, beaches, music performances, churches and other public buildings.
Walking around parks and other green spaces is always free and a good way to relax. Most museums have a free day or evening, while some never charge admission. Check their website in advance.
Take along a good guidebook (I always use Lonely Planet), and search the web for “free things to do in [destination]”. Drop by the Tourist Office to find out about free walking tours and upcoming cultural events. While there, also look for discount coupons on restaurants and activities.
Choosing transportation at your destination
Avoid taxis as much as possible and learn to use public transit. Besides being more expensive than other options, cars posing as official taxis are sometimes unsafe at worst, or a ripoff at best. If you must use a taxi, look for a taxi counter at the airport and only take licensed cabs.
Many cities have good public transit, including trains or shuttle buses that go directly to the town center from the airport. Every country has buses or trains linking its main cities. In developing nations, even small towns and villages are served by buses as few people have cars. When safety is an issue with public transport, tourist shuttles usually exist.
Traveling slowly helps save on transportation costs, so consider staying in each location three or more days. If traveling with a few others, renting a car may be an option worth considering.
Here is how I would allocate a budget of $1000 a week:
- $350 on flights ($50 a day)
- $315 on accommodation ($45 a day) per person
- $175 on food and drink ($25 a day)
- $70 on sightseeing ($10 a day)
- $70 on public transportation ($10 a day)
- $20 on miscellaneous (souvenirs, gifts, etc.)
Marie-France Roy is a Canadian freelance writer based in Toronto, who has been exploring the world mostly solo over the last 27 years. She has traveled to 65 countries on every continent and is especially fond of sunny destinations with good coffee. Her blog bigtravelnut.com focuses on affordable solo travel for the 40+ crowd.
What Happens When Someone Dies on a Plane?
All airlines have their own procedures for what happens if and when somebody dies on their aircraft, but unsurprisingly they’re generally pretty reluctant to talk about them. Death is a bit of a taboo, after all, and in some cases the procedures can seem a little inelegant, so they’re kept under wraps. Indeed, there are few government regulations for what airlines must do if someone dies on board: there’s no requirement to immediately divert, and airlines are given fairly wide scope to make sensible decisions. They’ll usually make them in conjunction with remote medical advice companies on the ground, any medical professionals on board, and the airline’s operations center, which will also assess the practicalities of the decision. On a shorthaul flight, say a couple of hours or so, the aircraft will generally land swiftly, although this won’t always result in an immediate emergency diversion to another airport. Sometimes, it can make more sense for the plane to continue to its intended destination if it is carrying a particularly heavy load, because the maximum landing weights planes are certified for are usually quite a bit less than their maximum takeoff weight, which is usually accounted for by the fuel that’s used in flight. On longhaul flights, however, things get a bit more complicated. There aren’t a huge number of places to divert to in the middle of the world’s oceans and it can be some time until a suitable diversion airport can be reached. In addition, if the person is indeed dead, there aren’t a huge number of things that diverting to another country unexpectedly can do to help the deceased and any family traveling with them. In practical terms, it may make more sense for the aircraft to continue to its intended destination — where the person who has died and their family will presumably hold visas and other necessary paperwork, where the airline will have staff, and where the family may well have friends and relations who can be of assistance — rather than to land in a third country in which the airline may not even operate. As a rule, airlines will do their very best to be supportive and compassionate to families during this kind of incident, and assist with the repatriation of their loved one’s remains. Very few people technically die on board Officially, the crew aren’t (usually) trained medical doctors and so generally can’t declare somebody dead on board the aircraft. If a doctor is present among the passengers on board they can do so, although most often this is usually done on the ground after landing. To the best of my knowledge, only one modern aircraft had a special locker in the event of a death onboard: that was the Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500, which used to fly the world’s longest flights between Singapore and Newark. Since its retirement (and recent replacement), though, I’m not aware that any other aircraft has them installed. Indeed, if someone dies, you may not even notice. In the event that a passenger dies peacefully in their sleep, the most dignified option may well be to simply cover them with a blanket and quietly reseat other passengers. If the usual onboard announcement for doctors or other medical professionals for a passenger having an emergency is made, however, and the outcome isn’t a positive one, the dead person may be moved to the galley area or to a business class seat, especially in the event that these are the flatbed type, covered with a blanket, and secured with a seat belt. If there’s no business class, the crew will often try to move them to an empty row, although as we’ve all seen when we fly there are fewer and fewer empty rows out there these days. Sometimes their destination will end up being the “crew rest” seats, which are the ones you may see on some aircraft with a little curtain around them to enable relief pilots and off-shift flight attendants to rest during the less busy cruise phase of the flight. The curtain provides some privacy for the deceased passenger, and with the row blocked off anyway it helps to provide a bit of dignity as well. The authorities may quarantine the plane on arrival Upon landing, the aircraft and its passengers may well be held in quarantine while the authorities do some initial medical checks to ensure that there are no public health issues that need to be addressed. This will usually include checking that the passenger had not recently traveled to an area of particular concern (Western Africa during outbreaks of Ebola virus disease, for example). This can often be concerning if ground medical personnel board the aircraft in hazmat suits, but it is largely out of an abundance of caution. Your onward travel or return home is unlikely to be delayed in these cases: the primary objective in this sort of effort is to ensure that other passengers are not showing symptoms of any illness, and to ensure that the authorities have detailed itineraries and contact information in the event of needing to follow up. Unfortunately, this sort of procedure is increasingly having to be used when unvaccinated people fall ill from previously eliminated infectious diseases like measles or whooping cough, whether that’s on the flight or shortly afterwards during an infectious period. Aviation journalist John Walton writes regularly on travel for Lonely Planet and a variety of aviation magazines. He welcomes questions and discussions from readers on Twitter (he’s @thatjohn) or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hotel vs. Airbnb: Which Is Best For Your Next Vacation?
The battle between hotels and Airbnbs has been waging since the peer-to-peer vacation rental company launched in 2008 – spurring a great debate between these two types of accommodations. Deciding where to stay on your next trip, though, depends on what’s most important to you, since both lodging options have their share of pros and cons. Need help determining whether a hotel or Airbnb is right for your next vacation? Ask yourself these questions. How much space do I need? One factor to consider is how many people you’re traveling with. A family of six could conceivably share a hotel room, but it would be a tight squeeze – and cramped quarters can put a damper on your vacation. (Teenagers want their space!) A large home through Airbnb would give your group more room to spread out. Do I want to meet other travelers? If you’re looking to strike up conversation with fellow travelers, hotels offer a number of shared spaces, such as the hotel bar, restaurant, or gym, where guests can mingle and meet people. Some Airbnb properties provide guests opportunities to socialize with other people through shared rooms or common spaces, but many of them don’t. Do I want to live like a local? Some travelers relish being able to experience a city like a local, which makes them preferential to Airbnbs. Moreover, many Airbnb owners give guests insider tips, such as their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, watering holes, and hidden gems throughout the city. Some hosts will even meet you when you arrive and give you a tour of their city. What services am I looking for? Airbnbs don’t provide the same hospitality services that traditional hotels do, such as valet parking, bellhop, housekeeping, security, free breakfast, room service, and 24/7 concierge. Therefore, you need to assess how important these services are to you; if you don’t mind making your own bed, for example, an Airbnb may meet your needs. Which is the cheaper option at my destination? Want a budget friendly accommodation? Many travelers presume that hotels are more expensive than Airbnbs, but lodging prices vary depending on the city, a recent analysis of Airbnb and hotel rates by Money.com found. For example, in Charleston, NC, the average hotel rate per night was $180, while the average Airbnb nightly rate was only $112. But in Augusta, GA, the average Airbnb rate of $350.25 was more than triple the average hotel rate of $107. Those findings echo a busbud.com study of hotel and Airbnb rates in popular cities. The takeaway? It pays to research hotel and Airbnb prices at your destination before making a reservation. Another thing to consider: Airbnb hosts may be willing to negotiate their rate, depending on factors like demand and how many nights you’re staying. (A longer rental could help you nab a deal.) Do I need a washer/dryer? More than half (53%) of travelers surveyed by Clever Real Estate said they prefer Airbnbs because of household amenities. So, if you’re taking a long vacation where you’ll need to clean your clothes, staying at an Airbnb that has a washer and dryer offers convenience – and it can save you a ton of money, considering hotels charge top dollar for laundry services. Do I want to cook my own meals? Similarly, if you’re planning to cook while you’re on vacation, you’ll need a home with a kitchen where you can prepare meals. And though some hotels offer suites with kitchens, these hotel rooms are often pricey. Do I have privacy concerns? In the Clever Real Estate survey, 58% of travelers said they were concerned about hidden cameras when staying at an Airbnb – and 7% said they've stayed in an Airbnb where they discovered a hidden camera. (Eek!) Hotels, meanwhile, are held to security standards that prevent them from putting cameras in hotel rooms, giving guests peace of mind that they’re not being watched. Am I comfortable staying in someone else’s home? Many Airbnb hosts leave behind personal items, like family photos or religious keepsakes, that make some guests feel like they’re intruding. Meanwhile, hotel rooms are depersonalized and de-cluttered. Do I want a guaranteed reservation? In many cases, Airbnb hosts can cancel reservations with little or short notice to guests. If that happens, you could be left scrambling to find a place to stay. This is an area where hotels have a competitive advantage, since hotel reservations cannot be canceled unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a natural disaster that renders the hotel uninhabitable. Do I like to stay at the same hotel chain? If you’re a frequent traveler, you may be able to earn nice perks, such as complimentary room upgrades or even free nights, through a hotel’s loyalty program. (Despite rumors of an alleged “Superguest” program, Airbnb has not rolled out a loyalty program for travelers.) The verdict Deciding between a hotel and an Airbnb is a big decision – one that hinges on a variety of factors. Some travelers prefer to be pampered by a luxury hotel, while other travelers could not care less about having 800-thread-count bed sheets or turndown service. By answering these questions honestly, you’ll be able to determine the best lodging option for your needs.
These Are The Safest Countries in The World for Travelers in 2020
The organization released its 11th annual Travel Risk Map, an interactive map which predicts the safest and most dangerous places to travel in 2020, as well as the biggest issues travelers will face. Countries were ranked in different risk categories: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme. The Nordic nations were grouped in 'insignificant', along with Switzerland, Greenland and Slovenia. The US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most of Europe were rated as having a "low" level of travel risk, in addition to Argentina, Japan, China and Namibia.According to International SOS, criteria was based on "the current threat posed to travelers by political violence, social unrest, as well as violent and petty crime." Other factors include transportation infrastructure, industrial relations, the effectiveness of security and emergency services and susceptibility to natural disasters. Those ranked as having a "medium" risk level include Russia, India, South Africa, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mozambique, Brazil and Indonesia. The report considers Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan to be "extreme" risk countries due to ongoing conflicts, while Mexico has a mixed rating. The states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are considered "high" risk, while the rest of the country is deemed "moderate". India, Egypt and Madagascar also have mixed ratings. If you have any health or security concerns about a country you're planning to visit, it's always best to check your government's travel advisory reports.
Cheap Places to Fly in 2020
An unexpectedly cheap flight can facilitate the latter, and to help travelers plan for adventure in the new year, Scott’s Cheap Flights has crunched the numbers, examining new and existing airline routes, historic pricing trends, and fare data from 2019 to forecast 20 cheap destinations to look for in 2020. “Travel is always a top New Year’s resolution, but the cost of flights deters many of us from making those dreams a reality,” founder Scott Keyes said in a press release. “Fortunately, we are living – right now – in the Golden Age of cheap flights. Far from affordable flights being impossible to find, it’s never been as cheap to fly internationally as it is today.” To be clear, these aren’t necessarily bargain-basement fares – they’re good-value destinations that should become less expensive than in years past. Places like Japan, for example, saw new routes to additional gateway cities in 2019, which brought down prices and increased competition – a trend that looks set to continue next year, especially factoring in interest generated by the summer Olympic games and the launch of even more routes between the US and Tokyo’s Haneda airport.The email subscription service also expects to see a bump in deals to East Africa – and to Nairobi specifically – in 2020. That’s thanks in large part to Kenya Airways’ enrollment in the Air France/KLM partnership and daily flights from Paris and Amsterdam that resulted from the partnership, which made it easier to connect via Europe than ever before. Deals to the volcanic archipelago of Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde as it’s also known, are expected as well, thanks to TAP Air Portugal’s continued expansion between the US and the island nation.In the Southeast Asia market, Malaysia tends to represent a better bargain than its regional neighbors. All Nippon Airways is known for running deals (in partnership with United) from US cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, Seattle, and Washington, DC via Tokyo, and as the hub for budget carrier AirAsia, you can often find flights from Kuala Lumpur to nearby locales like Bali, Myanmar, and Phuket for less than $100 roundtrip.Much of Europe feels like well-trod territory at this point, but the tiny principality of Liechtenstein is a somewhat unexpected option, with fairytale-fodder castles and a national trail network that makes it easy to trek from one end of the 160 sq km country to the other. At approximately nine times the size of Washington, DC, it’s so small that it doesn’t have its own airport, but Zürich is a short train ride away, and good fares are often available from the US – a likelihood that should roll over into 2020 as Swiss International Air Lines adds direct flights from DC.Stateside, 2019’s fare war between Delta and Alaska Airlines brought a plethora of deals to routes between Seattle and Alaska, and that shows no signs of abating in 2020. Look for low prices from Delta hubs like Minneapolis and Detroit to Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as bargain fares from Alaska’s west coast hubs. For the full list of the 20 places to go on cheap flights in 2020, visit scottscheapflights.com.