After traveling over a large portion of the world well before the age of thirty the travel bug really got to me. It caught me by surprise, as traveling wasn’t something I was used to while growing up. I don’t think I crossed any borders as a child. My first international travels were probably the trips I took to France and Germany in my early twenties. That sounds pretty exotic from a North American perspective, but since I grew up in Europe those were mostly short day trips by car. After my first plane trip to one of the Spanish islands I realized how much I loved traveling. I started to do more and more of it: both personally, and later on even for work. By now, I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places of this earth, and a lot remains to be explored on future travels. There’s always something new to see, and I’m surprised how I discover a new favorite place on every trip.
Getting to where you want to be
The biggest hurdle in traveling is to actually get to the destination. I’m forced to spend hours in an air-pressured cabin to get to where I want to be. For that reason alone some people choose to not travel at all, simply because they either hate or are too afraid of the experience of flying. Whoever said that it’s not about the destination but about the journey probably either likes flying a lot or has never seen the inside of an actual airplane. “The goal justifies the means”, seems more appropriate when it comes to boarding economy class airplanes.
Personally, I don’t mind flying. It’s a great way to physically remove myself from everyday life on this planet. Seeing the world, with all its problems and worries, reduced to ant-sized creatures, puts things in a great perspective somehow. This is why I still appreciate the simple pleasure of having a cup of coffee at 30,000 feet (as well as those airlines who pride themselves in serving decent coffee). If you have a low caffeine tolerance and are planning to get some sleep on your next overnight flight, you might want to pass on the coffee as well as the alcoholic refreshments, since caffeine, alcohol and medication are typically doubled in strength thanks to the altitude and air pressure. That applies to sleeping pills, too. In my case, coffee soothes me so I’ll sleep better after a hot cup of Joe. I guess I enjoy the simple things in life, especially when those simple things are offered to me high up in the sky, in a seat I got for practically free.
Crack the code and fly for free
After spending most of my life savings in exploring this planet, and spending the rest of it on a transatlantic move to Canada, I thought I was done traveling for a while. That idea didn’t really appeal to me. There’s so much more out there to see. One of the reasons for moving to Canada was to explore North America more. Doing that from a North American base seemed like a good idea at the time. With little savings left after the move, I was determined to crack the “code” and fly for free, or at least really cheap.
The good news is, that it’s actually possible to get on board of a plane and pay nothing or next to nothing for the ticket. It’s been just about 5 years since I last paid for an airline ticket, and in that time period I’ve been able to travel all over North America, South America and Asia. And I even managed to squeeze a trip to the homeland in there, which adds Europe to my list of continents I’ve traveled to in just the last couple of years only.
The concept I apply to fly for free is generally referred to as “travel hacking”, but that makes it sound much more complicated than it actually is. I tried to follow the principles of travel hacking for a while, and found it took a lot of time and effort, with very limited results. Maybe I just wasn’t dedicated enough or too lazy to really make it work. Anyway, my method is simpler, easier, and best of all: it can be followed by anyone. It doesn’t cost anything to get started, and if I can do it anyone can.
Using and Understanding Travel Hacking
Get started on designing your journey today with some of the travel resources I’ve created:
- Living by Experience: Insider Travel Deals
- The Freedom Project: My travel hacking book
- Join the Travel Revolution: My travel hacking masterclass
The feature photograph for this post was taken in KLM’s World Business Class on my latest trip to Amsterdam. In my Travel Revolution class I share how I fly business class more often than not. Forget about fighting for bin space – on this flight I had my very own bin for carry on luggage. It doesn’t get much better than that 🙂