How to Book the CHEAPEST Flights Possible

With a lot of overseas travel, the biggest financial hurdle to jump over is the airfare. Most of the time, flying can be more than 50% of the what the entire trip will cost. Excluding countries like the U.K., Switzerland, Australia, and Sweden, the typical issue is just getting to your destination. Once you're there, you're gravy.

What if I told you I knew a trick for getting dirt cheap flights to anywhere in the world?

What if I told you that I've actually used this trick to knock a $1,500 flight from Thailand to Amsterdam down to $345?

While backpacking through Europe, a friend I made showed me how to pull this off. She'd been doing it for years, and it is by far one of the most useful travel hacks I've ever learned. 

To pull off this sorcery, you'll need to be using Google Chrome for your internet browser. Follow these instructions, and you're on your way to the cheapest flights possible:

  1. Click on File and open 'New Incognito Window'
  2. Go to http://www.skyscanner.com
  3. Select 'One Way'
  4. Click 'Depart'
  5. Click 'Whole Month' and select the month you'd like to fly
  6. To find the cheapest ticket home, repeat this process with the departure and arrival points flipped.

Once you've completed these steps, you can view an entire month of ticket fares, bypassing individual airlines' dynamic price gouging. Google Chrome's Incognito Mode disables your computer from saving cookies, which prevents airlines from getting your personal information when you browse their websites.

If an airline sees that you live in a city like San Francisco or New York City, your rates go up. You live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, so they assume you can afford it. And if you're viewing their website from a Mac, then you can afford the most overpriced computer in the world, so the price jumps again. Andddd if you're unsure about a flight, and decide to hit refresh to see if the price has gone down, they'll bump it up further to scare you into urgency.

The way I see it, not only am I helping you travel, WE are helping the airline companies get more business by filling those darn empty seats.

WAY TO GO, TEAM.

What's In My Backpack: A Checklist

So you've decided its time to jump, booked your flight, told your friends and family you're leaving for the adventure of a lifetime, when reality sets in and you think to yourself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?"

Or at least that was my thought process before my first solo backpacking trip. One of the questions I get asked most is, "What should I pack for my trip?" so I wanted to write up a sample inventory of what comes with me nowadays. Remember...less is more. Minimalism and being pragmatic are huge components of backpacking.

When you find out you're on the wrong side of the street to catch that 17 hour overnight bus, and have to run across traffic to get to it before it leaves without you, you will seriously reconsider if you really needed that second book you purchased earlier that day. The more stuff you pack, the more stuff you have to worry about. While I personally bring my laptop so that I can work on the road, I recommend leaving as many electronic devices at home as you can.

What's In My (60-liter) Backpack

Clothes

  • 2 t-shirts, 1 nice shirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 8 pairs underwear
  • 8 pairs socks
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 pants, 1 shorts
  • 1 belt
  • 1 pair of running shoes/trainers
  • 1 pair of flip flops (crucial for dirty showers)
  • 1 pair of swim trunks
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Misc.

  • TRAVEL INSURANCE (!!!)
  • 1 small journal
  • 1 book
  • REI water bottle
  • 1 passport neck wallet
  • Photocopies of passport
  • Passport photos (for visas)
  • 1 combo lock
  • Compass
  • Duct tape (your best friend)
  • Sleeping mask
  • Ear plugs

Toiletries

  • 1 toiletry bag
  • 1 soap case
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Hair wax
  • 1 first aid kit (bandages, peroxide, antibiotics)
  • 1 microfiber towel
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  • Beard trimmer
  • Laundry soap
  • Sunblock
  • Nail clippers

Electronics

  • iPhone 6
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch)
  • 2tb external hard drive
  • GoPro Hero4 Silver
  • 2 SanDisk 64gb MicroSD memory sticks
  • 2 Wasabi Power GoPro batteries/charger
  • Headphone splitter (for watching movies with friends; great for long bus rides)
  • Chargers/universal outlet adapter

How I Lyfted My Way Around the World

When I graduated from college, like so many others, I was up to my neck in student loans and bills, and didn’t have the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I had grabbed my diploma, walked off the commencement stage, and started looking at entry level positions, only for panic to set in…every single job had the most unrealistic expectations of fresh college grads. 

I realized the process of finding the right job was going to take some time, and I’d need a temporary gig, something flexible that would facilitate my search. That’s when a friend told me about Lyft, the tech company he was working for in San Francisco. This was late 2013, and Lyft was in its infancy. I wasn't really familiar with the ride share service, but I knew it had something to do with taxis and large fluorescent pink mustaches. 

I applied, interviewed, got hired, and was on the road. At first, I was a little sketched out by the idea of letting complete strangers in my car, but within 2 weeks, I realized Lyft was the answer to my prayers, because driving meant freedom. I could work whenever I wanted to, for however long I wanted to, and take time off whenever I wanted to; I was liberated. But it wasn’t the flexibility that made Lyft so special, it was the community.

It was apparent that Lyft had dedicated concerted effort to market their service with a focus on community and camaraderie, calling itself ‘your friend with a car,' and that really resonated with people. Most of the time, passengers would hop in my front seat and trade perspectives with me for 15 minutes. I quickly realized the platform had incredible utility as a research tool that I could use to help narrow my job search focus.

I began working commuter hours every day, bringing people to and from work asking them questions like, “What did you study in college? What did your first postgraduate position entail? What would you have done differently? What are your biggest regrets?” I gave rides to people of all walks of life, from every culture and industry, yet there was an overwhelming consensus on each person's biggest regret; that they had started their careers immediately after college.

I lost track of how many people told me that they wished they had taken advantage of the transitional period between university and career to embark upon an adventure. It was like clockwork; I’d ask, “What was your biggest regret?” to which they would reply, “I should have traveled more.” Before their career got serious. Before they went to grad school. Before they got married. Before they had kids. Before they bought a house.

Before life happened.

I’m stubborn as hell. But after the umpteenth person told me they should have traveled more, I decided to listen. Only one problem...I’d never left the country in my entire life, and had no idea where to start. I put a notebook my car, and changed my line of questions; now I asked people, “What is your favorite place in the world to travel?” Their eyes would light up as a rush of memories came back to them, and they’d excitedly jot down destinations, advice, and incredible messages. My mind was made up; my career search would be put on the back burner, and instead my goal was to travel the world, for as long as possible, and return with the education and perspective that only an adventure can provide.

I crunched the numbers, if I was gonna pull it off, I had to be extreme. I stopped spending money on anything but the essentials. No more eating at restaurants, no more drinking or partying, and no more hanging out with my friends. I Lyfted like crazy, sometimes up to 80 hours in a single week. Every action I took would either move me closer or farther away from my dream of backpacking across the globe. Every action was a foot placed firmly on the gas pedal, or on the brakes.

I had to be able to pay San Francisco rent, along with all my other bills, and still save up enough money to travel for what became a 6 month adventure around the world. And if I was going to be gone 6 months, not only would I need enough cash for those 6 months, but I’d need 7 months worth of additional student loan payments, as well as prepaying 7 months of my cell phone bill.

If you dream of traveling like this, I’m here to tell you that it requires just two things; relentless work ethic, and an unwillingness to take no for an answer. I paid rent to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, working a job that didn’t even require a high school diploma, while continuing to climb out of student debt, and was able to accomplish my dream because I believed in my heart of hearts it could be done.

Hakuna Matata.jpg

 

Don’t let anyone or anything stop you, be it circumstance or opinions from friends or family who think you’re out of your mind. You’re not. People will judge you. They'll question you. They'll call you self indulgent, irresponsible, childish, reckless, and may accuse you of 'running away.' You're not. You're running to. You have every right to live a life of excitement and adventure, because we are all food for worms, and we must make this journey through mortality special.

If you’ve just finished school, you have 6 months before your student loans begin to accrue interest. I highly recommend driving for Lyft, saving as much as you can for 3 months, and I PROMISE you will have enough to travel for at least 3 months, if you’re dedicated, detail oriented, and budget properly.

You can sign up to be a Lyft driver by clicking here.

And if you’ve never used Lyft, you can get $50 in free ride credits by clicking here.