Travel Hacks: See The World for 70% Less Than Staying at Home

3 Dec, 2019

Travel Hacks: See The World for 70% Less Than Staying at Home

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We love to share the great travel tips we hear in our housesitting community. In this blog we share some extraordinary travel hacks from long term international travellers and housesitters Nat n Jodie. 

Travel Hacks for Affordable Long Term Travel

Every year, it seriously never ceases to amaze us, that even though we travel internationally year round we actually spend less than a third of the cost of living in one location. It’s true, and here are some travel tips to help you reflect on the possibility of long term travel. We enjoy an incredible and rewarding full-time global travel lifestyle that most only ever dream of … all this is made possible by international house sitting and some cunning travel hacks.

 

travel hacks
Housesitting – one of the great travel hacks

The truth is, before starting our nomadic journey, we didn’t know all that much about travel hacking or even house sitting. In fact, we held the more common belief that travel is crazy expensive… maybe not surprisingly, given we came from that land Down under in Australia that seems so far away from everything!

But sometimes adversity ends up being the greatest wake-up gift of all, and this was definitely true for us back in 2012.

Left completely devastated after losing everything in a business startup in Dubai, we walked away with just $300 USD to our name and no savings, credit or income. We were ‘forced’ to learn very quickly how to get back-to-back house sits to save on rent, and make money on the road. 

Armed with little more than a desire to learn and a burning passion for travel, we ended up almost by default, creating our absolute perfect lifestyle… travelling the world with house sitting and financing it along the way with our creative projects. 

Not exactly the most ‘normal’ start to living a travel lifestyle! 

But that story has given us, and hundreds of other travel lovers we have connected with over the years, the permission to not wait until retirement, or until all your ducks are lined up, or until you have all the money you ‘think’ you need, and instead focus purely on lifestyle first RIGHT NOW, and allow reality to almost create itself around that intention. 

Housesitting – One of the Great Travel Hacks

There’s no doubt that house sitting has been a big part of our ability to even contemplate starting to travel with just $300 and to continue it as we took the time to learn what we needed to make an income online from anywhere. 

Having the majority of our living expenses evaporate since 2013 thanks to house sitting, all we’ve had to focus on is earning enough to cover our transport from house sit to house sit and our day-to-day living expenses. Little did we know when we first started, just how incredibly affordable this way of living would be, and just how much more breathing space it would open up for enjoyment and actually ‘living’! 

Seven years later, we are proof that it IS possible to live a travel lifestyle without it costing the earth or dwindling hard-earned savings away. In fact, many who’ve discovered the secrets to living a travel life others only ever dream about, never even touch their nest egg, sometimes even adding to it, simply because expenses are reduced so dramatically and earning from anywhere is now accessible to anyone. 

And if you haven’t started your journey yet, hopefully, our story and travel tips will inspire you to stop putting off your travel dreams and start living them as soon as possible. Clearly, after our story, it’s never about the money! (even though we think it is) It is always about making a decision or following your heart’s desire and taking action. At the end of the day that is all we’ve done to create more than 7 years of incredible world travel, and we’re not stopping anytime soon! 

The Financials Behind Our Travel Hacks

OK, let’s have a look at our actual numbers… we think they might blow your mind!

Please note this is not a complete breakdown of costs like you might find on budget spreadsheets or apps tracking your expenses. As experienced long term travellers we believe there’s no point including food, entertainment, insurances or any other subscriptions in our figures, mainly because, we’d be paying for those even if we weren’t travelling. One of our major travel tips is to focus on the additional travel costs. So these are our accommodation and transport figures.

As you’ll see, our accommodation costs are extremely low and that’s because we house sit full-time. It is one of our primary travel hacks.  Outside of a few nights in hotels between sits, in our 7 years of globetrotting, we’ve only ever taken one ‘vacation’ to attend a destination wedding in the South Pacific, and once paid rent for 2 months after a house sit cancelled on us.  Both of these events occurred in 2017.

Our Travel Financials Broken Down By Year

Here’s a breakdown of our travel costs each year from 2013 – 2019 ($USD Value)

2013 – Travel Financials

7 Countries House Sitting: 

UK, France, Canada, Costa Rica, USA, Ecuador, Peru

 

Cost of transport: $2680 each

Cost of accommodation: $362 each
TOTAL $3042 each

2014 – Travel Financials

6 Countries House Sitting: 

USA, UK, Barbados, Panama, Peru, Greece

 

Cost of transport: $2314 each

Cost of accommodation: $206 each

TOTAL $2520 each

 

2015 – Travel Financials

6 Countries House Sitting:
UK, USA, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Australia
+ hosting a retreat in Italy

 

Cost of transport: $2523 each

Cost of accommodation: $550 each

TOTAL $3073 each

 

2016 – Travel Financials

8 Countries House Sitting:
Greece, UK, USA, Barbados, St Lucia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Canada,

 

Cost of transport: $1767 each

Cost of accommodation: $102 each

TOTAL $1869 each

2017 – Travel Financials

5 Countries House Sitting: 

Canada, Mexico, USA, New Zealand, Australia
+2 month rental in Mexico ($1000) & 1 week on The Cook Islands ($1250)

 

Cost of transport: $1490 each

Cost of accommodation: $1125 each

TOTAL $2615 each

travel hacks
World travel hacks hi-lights

2018 – Travel Financials

Australia only – 4 states House Sitting:
Queensland, Victoria, South Australia & Tasmania

 

Cost of transport: $535 each

Cost of accommodation: $75 each

TOTAL $610 each

 

2019 – Travel Financials

10 Countries House Sitting:
Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, France, Belgium, Scotland, USA, Canada

 

Cost of transport:: $1671 each

Cost of accommodation: $98 each
TOTAL $1769 each

 

**7 Year Average:  $2214 each for transport & accommodation

 

Long Term Roaming and World Travel Hacks

Back in 2012, if you had of told us that we could travel the world for 7 years straight for less than just one year of paying the rent on our apartment in Dubai @ $300 a week – guaranteed we wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it. Maybe you’re feeling the same way right now!

But here’s the proof that it’s possible and some travel tips to help you get started. The numbers don’t lie!

To be honest, we had no real plan in our first year of house sitting other than to line up back-to-back assignments to save on rent. And while we managed to create that, in hindsight, we weren’t all that smart in choosing our locations. In fact, we seemed to run all over the world for those sits! But we were excited, the world had suddenly opened up to us, so we just kept saying YES to the sits that intuitively felt right, no matter where they were.

Travel Tips on Flights

The next skill we mastered, after running all over the world, was flight hacking. It took the direct experience of booking flights and land transport that sent us from Europe – the UK – Canada – Costa Rica – USA – Peru – then Ecuador in 2013, to since realise that there are a number of great search tools online for finding cheap flights.

Back then we were really impressed with how little it did cost that first year, especially given how many new places we were able to experience. We house sat in the Sacred Valley of Peru over Christmas for goodness sake!  How incredible is that?

But now we have mastered this flight hacking thing! The real joy now is seeing we’ve almost halved those expenses again in our 7th year. A true testament to the travel hacks we’ve learnt along the way.

To start your long term travel journey join a housesitting network like HouseSitMatch.com

As a housesitter you’ll benefit from a vast range of housesitting assignments in a range of countries across the world.

JOIN HOUSE SIT MATCH AS A HOUSESITTER – To exchange free home and pet care for free accommodation

JOIN HOUSE SIT MATCH AS A HOMEOWNER – To exchange free accommodation for free home and pet care.

What makes these 2019 numbers even more impressive is for the first time, we’re forced to fly during peak holiday times. The cross Atlantic flight we need to take between finishing a house sit in Edinburgh on the 1st January 2020 and starting a Vermont, USA house sit on the 4th January almost tripled the normal fare cost – ouch!

And while we’ll aim to avoid peak-period travel in future, the experience has shown us another great travel hack, plus we get to have the experience of Hogmanay in Scotland for the first time, a bucket list item for sure!

The Travel Hacks We Now Use:

Our first two years of flights were surely a mix of lucky finds and some good research. Our favourite search tool was, and still is to a degree, www.Skycanner.com

The functions we like on Skyscanner is the EVERYWHERE search, the COUNTRY search and the FULL MONTH search, enabling you to see cheaper flights at a glance if you have some flexibility with your dates and destinations.

But from 2015 we got dramatically better at finding great flight deals after learning the skills of Flight Route Hacking.

Here’s a simple example of flight route hacking:

Normally: Lookup a flight like New York to Cusco, Peru and see the cheapest fare via Lima is $288.

With Hacking: Search New York to Lima, Peru. Find a great fare of $130.

Then search, Lima to Cusco for $29.

And just like that, you’ve saved yourself $129 for a few minutes work!

Obviously, you need to be aware of layover times, checked baggage and perhaps having to change terminals. But on the flip side, if time permits, it might enable you to explore a new place along your journey instead of just flying from A-> B each time, giving you a new experience AND savings – double win!

As you can imagine, there’s lots of strategies to play with and how deep you go will depend on your level of interest.

But fair warning… it can become a little addictive hunting down great deals! 🙂

You may want to become familiar with the world atlas too, to get the most out of flight route hacking, but the task can be just as easy when you know how to use specific functions available on the different search tools.

Take www.Kiwi.com for example. You can choose a radius search that now includes bus & train travel options for a number of countries.

And the newer site we’ve used this year to snag a flight from Malaysia to Italy for just $350 each only 3 weeks before departure… www.GreatEscape.co

Great Escape starts with a destination point and allows you to use their ‘Anywhere’ search to see what region of the world has the best deals for any given time period. Perfect for planning a great escape! 🙂

Here’s a video walkthrough to explain how we recently used all three of these search tools to utilise another travel hack, saving us hundreds of dollars on that UK to US flight during the peak holiday period we mentioned earlier: https://youtu.be/nY5wztgLH1o

travel hacks
Kiwi.com a great search tool for affordable flights

The key to flight route hacking is dropping the idea of needing to get from point A to point B as quick as possible (unless its a must).  Being an international house sitter is truly wonderful and our priority is always first to our duties and responsibilities, so rarely do any site-seeing while on assignment. But getting from one sit to another, we do like to see what we can along the way, which is our version of living a travel lifestyle. 

An example of this was when we flew from Gatwick UK into Boston USA, then took the Megabus down to New York to start a house sit.  The cost of a night in an AirBNB plus the bus fare was still less than the direct New York flight, plus we got to see some of Massachusetts & Connecticut at the start of Spring which was very pretty.

Other worthy mentions of sites we use to research destinations and other travel options are:

  1. Rome2Rio.com
  2. BlaBlaCar.com
  3. Oui.sncf in Europe
  4. TheTrainPal.co.uk for the UK

Earlier this year we tried BlaBlaCar for the first time. This rideshare platform is huge in Europe and we used it to get from Milan to Paris. We ended up with a ride share to Geneva then caught an overnight bus to Paris. While the overnight bus is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially when train travel is virtually luxurious in most of Europe, it was a way to kill time and not have to pay for accommodation in Switzerland or France which can be expensive.

The best part of the whole ride share component of this trip was the cute French lads who took us over the Swiss Alps via the Great St Bernard Pass, giving us a few photo stops along the way… surely one of the best drives we’ve experienced in all our travels!

Travelling by ride share

It’s also worth mentioning a couple of new sites for car hire in Europe which can sometimes get you a vehicle for just a few bucks a day.

Doyouspain.com

Doyouitaly.com

Many of our house sits over the years have provided us with a car to drive, but in some locations this just isn’t possible, so do your research or ask questions in Expat groups on Facebook to find out what you can expect to pay for Taxi’s or Uber rideshares.  More often than not, if the homeowner doesn’t use public transport or fare rides, they will not have this information for you – but ask anyway 🙂

During a Melbourne Australia house sit we learned about the Uber Pool (sharing the fare with others) and the Didi app. Our Uber driver told us this new Chinese version of Uber actually charges less to the passenger but pays the drivers more than what Uber does.  We checked this while driving with him on a $50 AUD fare and saw that the Didi ride would have only been $34 AUD.

In SE Asia, Grab is the goto app for taxi rides and food delivery, and in Vietnam, motorbike rides too (this is a MUST have experience!).  The best part about apps like this is not needing to struggle with languages.

Travelling by road in Mexico


When in Mexico, definitely treat yourself to Coach travel (luxury bus). We recently spoke with over a dozen of our peers seeking the best worldwide land transport experiences and Mexico won hands-down with their coaches!

One thing we’ve not yet experienced is a relocation cruise. When a cruise ship needs to change locations to start their next season, you can travel with them for a fraction of the price. They generally take the most direct route to their final destination, but you will enjoy pretty much the same services but with fewer crowds… and for a lot less money.

 

FINAL TIPS

  • Use a VPN where possible.  Sometimes in-country fares are offered for less. We found this was the case in Peru.
  • Research shows that booking approx 54-56 days before departure tends to show up the last of the cheapest fares.  We’ve tested this and around 80% of the time this is true. In our case, only once did we find a cheaper fare with less lead-in time.
  • Remember to think outside the box. Going from A to B directly is for people who take vacations at locked in times. If travel is your lifestyle, shake off the need to go direct. Take a stop-over every now and then (sometimes these fares can be cheaper than the direct routes as shown) or choose a nearby arrival destination that lets you experience more of an area that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
  • Learn to love maps as much as we do, they are one of the first things we go to when we see a listing for a house sit in an area we’ve not been to before.  From there you can research the surrounding areas and start to plan your travel routes to incorporate seeing more of this wonderful world.

**Please note, if you can accumulate air miles and points, you can travel for even less than we do. Our friends Tim & Amy are experts in frugal travel and you can learn about flight hacking with air miles and redeeming points over at their Youtube Channel ‘GoWithLess’.

Finally, keep track of what you spend on your transport and accommodation as you travel the world. We are so grateful we did this because it turned the lightbulb on, highlighting that living a travel lifestyle is indeed, 70% less than just staying home dreaming about travel.  Now we cannot even imagine not having the entire world as our ‘home’!

Author: Jodie Burnham from TravelLifestylePlan.com 

To start your long term travel journey join a housesitting network like HouseSitMatch.com

As a housesitter you’ll benefit from a vast range of housesitting assignments in a range of countries across the world.

JOIN HOUSE SIT MATCH AS A HOUSESITTER – To exchange free home and pet care for free accommodation

JOIN HOUSE SIT MATCH AS A HOMEOWNER – To exchange free accommodation for free home and pet care.


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LamiaW

LamiaW

Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

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