Author Topic: Mustachian travel tips  (Read 2157 times)

Optimus Primal

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Mustachian travel tips
« on: August 22, 2016, 12:17:56 PM »
Question:  So I'd like to learn about ways people travel cheaply and I thought I'd ask the mustachians...  Can you share tips, secrets, links to other threads etc that might help me? 


Ideas:  Here are some ideas/questions I have:

1.  Hacking--I have some airline points but I've never really pushed this--I should probably invest some time learning about travel hacking.  Right now I use an Amazon credit card to use points on Amazon but maybe I should consider switching to a travel card?   
2.  Deal sites--I know there are sites that have travel deals on them--are those worthwhile?  What are the best ones to use?
3.  Camping--I'll probably start camping a bit--never did this as a kid but I love the outdoors.  Any tips? 
4.  Lodging--What about lodging?  Are there ways to house-sit, etc, that could lower the costs of lodging?  I'm used to staying in hotels but I'd probably prefer staying in houses.
5.  Road trips--What are good ways to do road trips affordably? 
6.  Rental cars--What are good ways to rent cars or otherwise get from A to B if you fly somewhere affordably?   
7.  Food--What do people eat when traveling?  Do you have tips on how to experience local cuisine affordably?
8.  Cruises and resorts--I've never done a cruise or a resort but with two small kids that could be good if there is some care available.  Do people do cruises/ resorts and are there ways to make them affordable?
9.  Slow travel--We have enough flexibility to potentially go somewhere for a few months at a time--any tips on that?
10.  Catch all--What else should I be thinking about?

I'm really trying to draw out tips across the board as I'm new to this.  So if you can spare a few minutes lay them on me! 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 04:57:41 PM by lazarus_long »

jmras5

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 07:41:44 PM »
Go on millionmilesecrets.com to learn about travel hacking. Also click on all his recommended blogs on the side and just start reading. Also the madfientist had just started getting into it. and doctorofcredit is a great website for info on it. I just booked 10 days in Hawaii for my wife and I. We will have $200 dollars into it besides whatever we spend while we are there. Good luck!

jmras5

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 07:47:23 PM »
Also if you don't have any credit card applications in the last 2 years....start with 5 chase cards. They have the best cards and if you have more than 5 applications in the last 2 years they won't approve you for any. Google chase 5/24 rule

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7736
Re: Cheap travel techniques
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2016, 05:40:03 AM »
1. yes learn to travel hack.  take the travelmiles101.com course its free it will teach you everything you need to know and you can take it as far as you are comfortable.

2. IMO travelzoo.com's top 20 list that is published on wednesday is the best

3. camping just keep it simple load up the car and go - but the best vacation i ever went on out of 100s was renting a campervan out of vegas to go thru the mighty 5 in Utah and finish at lake powell for a couple days

4. Credit cards are a good solution here as well.  also VRBO/ AirBNB also work ... ARS has been doing some house sitting on his globe trotting trip.

5. Road trips. i would camp most affordable thing out there.  depending on how much youre doing a nice little class C towing a fuel efficient car may make the most sense.

6.  constantly shop rental car rates you never want to prepay you can cancel when you find a better rate. Travelzoo will pop up good deals every now and then.  I check rates weekly when i'm looking at going somewhere, always book the lowest rate then keep checking for lower.  A barclay arrival card or captial one venture card are both good ways to offset these costs after you find th lowest rates

7. we typically go to the grocery store and pick up cheese and crackers.  if we have a condo or apt from airbnb or vrbo we act like we're at home.  we do eat out more when we travel but try to do it around happy hours and groupons.

8.  i've been on 10 or more cruises in my life.  it was a great experience to meet new friends when i was younger.  also great for mom and dad b/c of all the programs for kids of all ages you really can get some alone time.  My wife and i are going on a 12 day european cruise in a balcony with booze included for around 1k out of pocket thru travel hacking.  I subscribe to crucon's email.  i watch for deals you can get balcony or ocean view with drinks for under 100 a day per person quite frequently in the carribeean.  only cruise i've been on where a balcony is a must ahve has been alaska so far.  Then you can use barclay cards and other travel offset cards to offset the price of the cruise usually only a deposit of 200-400 per room is due up front then you can churn some credit cards to knock the price down leading up to final payment typically 75 days prior to departure.

9.  ARS will have tips here ... a retired couple we met on our honeymoon in kauai had a great way to do hawaii for a few months.  They would by a truck with a shell on the back on the west coast.  load it full of camping gear bikes coolers clothes etc.  and ship it to the island they were going to be on ... then the would camp in the truck on the beaches(free in all islands) while they went to coffee shops and searched CL for an affordable monthly condo rate. when they left they could sell the truck for more than the cost of shipping and buying in the US b/c of the cost of vehicles there.  we plan to do this.

10.  credit cards and travel hacking can save you thousands.

Khaetra

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2016, 07:39:12 AM »
Food: I would research where you're going and check out what each city/area has to offer.  I always recommend TripAdvisor to look at menus, prices and reviews, from five-star to the hole-in-the-wall places.  As far as food on the road, a cooler is a must and since there is usually grocery stores everywhere it easy to stock/restock with a variety of fruit, yogurt, hummus, chips, etc.  If you're booking a room for the night make sure it has a fridge/microwave because that will open up more food choices and save money.

Road Trips: I did an almost 4 week one back in April/May and spent just about $3500.  I could have done it cheaper, but I rented a car for the whole trip* and splurged on a few really nice meals.  A road trip with young children can be a big challenge though, so I would search out sites that cater to families with sprogs.

*I planned to use my own car, but I had a sneaky feeling I should rent and I am so glad I did.  When I got back my own car broke down and was in the shop for three days.  I would not have liked to have been stuck somewhere else for three days cutting into my vacation time.  As it was, my first rental broke down but I was only out two hours of time.

TravelJunkyQC

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Québec City, Canada
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2016, 09:02:04 AM »
1.  Hacking--I have some airline points but I've never really pushed this--I should probably invest some time learning about travel hacking.  Right now I use an Amazon credit card to use points on Amazon but maybe I should consider switching to a travel card?
I have a Bank of America travel card, but I spend very little on it (it's my US card, I use my Canadian cards since that's where I live). the BoA is excellent, but if you're looking to switch for a regular-use card, there are plenty that could be better worth your while.    
2.  Deal sites--I know there are sites that have travel deals on them--are those worthwhile?  What are the best ones to use?
I'm a big fan of Kayak Explore personally (https://www.kayak.com/explore/). Especially since you have flexibility, you simply put in your departing airport, pick your month or season, and it'll show you the best deals. If you aren't picky in date or location, it's a great way to explore the world for cheaper. Airfare Watchdog is another good site with the same idea.
3.  Camping--I'll probably start camping a bit--never did this as a kid but I love the outdoors.  Any tips? 
Big camper here. Buying your gear will be a considerable upfront cost (although, with two kids it'll probably be mostly car camping, so backpacks, water purifiers, etc, won't be necessary). But otherwise, check out Free National Park Entrance days and weeks online, or, whenever possible, try state parks instead of national parks (tend to be cheaper).
4.  Lodging--What about lodging?  Are there ways to house-sit, etc, that could lower the costs of lodging?  I'm used to staying in hotels but I'd probably prefer staying in houses.
I like HomeAway/VRBO (same company) - I've always had great experiences. AirBnB takes a percentage of the rental fee from the owner, so the same house will be more expensive on AirBnb than HomeAway. Make sure to always speak to the person (preferably by phone, although by direct email I've also done). Check out reviews, but take them with a grain of salt (there's always going to be some pissed off person that expected hotel-grade accommodations at 1/3 the price). If you do a deposit (which is standard), obviously, don't wire money, always a credit card to protect yourself. I've paid with cash before, but it was after my arrival, so I could check it out before paying the guy. It was perfectly fine with me. I've never tried HouseSwap, but it might be worth looking into as well.
5.  Road trips--What are good ways to do road trips affordably?
Combine with some camping or HomeAway house rentals?
6.  Rental cars--What are good ways to rent cars or otherwise get from A to B if you fly somewhere affordably?
Check-out local companies, not only large international ones like Budget or Avis. When I went to Costa Rica, I went with a local company called Wild Riders. Owned and operated by a German expat, with a crew of local Costa Ricans. Good service, no issues at all. And cheaper than Budget. FYI: always check the laws of the local country for insurance, etc. Costa Rica doesn't accept foreign insurance (even through a credit card), so you are required by law to have insurance through your rental company. Most don't quote you a price with the insurance (even if you ask over the phone), so they'll quote you the day rate, and when you get there to pick up the car, they charge you approximately double for the required insurance. Wild Rider quoted exactly what I paid, not a penny more - that's why I picked them. Other countries may be similar, so check out guidebook websites and consumer forums.  
7.  Food--What do people eat when traveling?  Do you have tips on how to experience local cuisine affordably?
HomeAway houses and apartments mean that I always go out to the local market and grocery store, buy whatever I want (and some things that I don't know what they are... to try). Culinary exploration and living like a local is fun. And don't knock street-food and local dive joints, the food will be cheaper, tastier, and more "true local cuisine" than high-traffic touristy spots.
8.  Cruises and resorts--I've never done a cruise or a resort but with two small kids that could be good if there is some care available.  Do people do cruises/ resorts and are there ways to make them affordable?
N/A, don't know
9.  Slow travel--We have enough flexibility to potentially go somewhere for a few months at a time--any tips on that?
Combination of all of the above, flexible travel dates and locations, HomeAway/VRBO (renters always give deals for long-term renting), grocery store food, etc. Depending on where you are, buying an old used car (or bikes, ATVs, etc), and then selling it back after a few months will most likely be cheaper than renting. A lot of cities/towns will have great temporary language classes if you're looking to stick around for a while. Nice family activity to learn a new language together!
10.  Catch all--What else should I be thinking about?
This is really important. Have fun. Explore. This is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your children. Enjoy!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 09:05:00 AM by TravelJunkyQC »

cats

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 971
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2016, 09:09:00 AM »
You have already gotten lots of great advice but I'd say one of my big tips (beyond what's been offered) is to pack light.  We always have a goal of not checking any luggage and it makes travel so much more fun/enjoyable to just have everything in a backpack.  It also makes it much easier to get around your destination location on foot or via public transit, so you will avoid spending tons of money on taxis and have an easier time accessing things since you no longer need a decent sidewalk or elevators to haul your suitcase around.

2Cent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 562
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2016, 09:24:48 AM »
Look for local stuff.
You don't need to go to a different continent to have a nice trip with the kids. As long as you're out of the familiar places, it will feel like a trip. If you do, you could think about biking or even hiking there. That would make the journey much more memorable.

Staying with out of town family also is great, if they can and like to accommodate you.

Travel suffers from Hedonic Adaptation just like everything else.

JackieTreehorn

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2016, 01:28:04 PM »
Re: Travel hacking -- The chase sapphire reserve that has just been released might be the best travel card in the history of the game.  Google it and read some reviews but basically I'd say you could easily squeeze $1,500 worth of value out of it without really having to know anything about travel hacking.  More value if you are keen to learn. Get one for you and one for your wife and you're $3,000 to the good (assuming you have the capacity to meet the minimum spend) which based on your prior posts, I think you do.

Unfortunately I'm SOL because of 5/24, but going to try to get one for my wife.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7736
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 01:44:07 PM »
Re: Travel hacking -- The chase sapphire reserve that has just been released might be the best travel card in the history of the game.  Google it and read some reviews but basically I'd say you could easily squeeze $1,500 worth of value out of it without really having to know anything about travel hacking.  More value if you are keen to learn. Get one for you and one for your wife and you're $3,000 to the good (assuming you have the capacity to meet the minimum spend) which based on your prior posts, I think you do.

Unfortunately I'm SOL because of 5/24, but going to try to get one for my wife.

i would still put the dual southwest card hack with a companion pass as the most valuable travel hack out there right now but this card is nice.

Optimus Primal

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 01:54:10 PM »
Re: Travel hacking -- The chase sapphire reserve that has just been released might be the best travel card in the history of the game.  Google it and read some reviews but basically I'd say you could easily squeeze $1,500 worth of value out of it without really having to know anything about travel hacking.  More value if you are keen to learn. Get one for you and one for your wife and you're $3,000 to the good (assuming you have the capacity to meet the minimum spend) which based on your prior posts, I think you do.

Unfortunately I'm SOL because of 5/24, but going to try to get one for my wife.

Thanks!  I'll have to look into this.  I don't think I'm getting $3k of value with the Amazon cards... I suspect I'm getting less than $1,000.

Optimus Primal

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 01:57:23 PM »
You have already gotten lots of great advice but I'd say one of my big tips (beyond what's been offered) is to pack light.  We always have a goal of not checking any luggage and it makes travel so much more fun/enjoyable to just have everything in a backpack.  It also makes it much easier to get around your destination location on foot or via public transit, so you will avoid spending tons of money on taxis and have an easier time accessing things since you no longer need a decent sidewalk or elevators to haul your suitcase around.

Yeah, I agree.  I'm digging this idea of a minimalist wardrobe.  When I travel recently I've been taking two pairs of EMS hiking pants that I got on sale and just cleaning them as I go.  They are lightweight, have lots of pockets, and one of them converts into shorts.  The kid stuff adds weight.  In a few years the kids will be able to carry their own suitcases (or maybe backpacks like you suggest!) and we'll be in much better shape for air travel, for instance.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27156
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2016, 02:11:59 AM »
Following!  I have lots of thoughts, but traveling right now--when we settle down a bit, will have stuff to contribute.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

Optimus Primal

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2016, 04:30:24 AM »
You have already gotten lots of great advice but I'd say one of my big tips (beyond what's been offered) is to pack light.  We always have a goal of not checking any luggage and it makes travel so much more fun/enjoyable to just have everything in a backpack.  It also makes it much easier to get around your destination location on foot or via public transit, so you will avoid spending tons of money on taxis and have an easier time accessing things since you no longer need a decent sidewalk or elevators to haul your suitcase around.

Hey cats, I love your idea of traveling with backpacks instead of suitcases.  Do you have any recommendations on which type or make of backpack is best?  Do you use one backpack for all kinds of purposes (like flying, hiking, day to day) etc?  Are they pricey or cheap?  Any thoughts you or others have on best all around backpack for travel would be cool.

skinnyindy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2016, 06:03:19 AM »
Boarder42, unfortunately you can't ship a car full of stuff to or from Hawaii.  Cars must be empty.  They must have done that a long time ago.

 I recommend renting through Costco for the best rental rates.  Camping is cheaper and somewhat better at national parks or state parks and we have done it in a minivan.  Look into the Junior Ranger programs at national parks, great for kids and adults and usually free.  We have dozens of free badges from it and great educational experiences. But you should try to book that ahead.  We have driven through 49/50 states if you have any specific questions about road trips. 

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7736
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2016, 06:09:59 AM »
Boarder42, unfortunately you can't ship a car full of stuff to or from Hawaii.  Cars must be empty.  They must have done that a long time ago.

 I recommend renting through Costco for the best rental rates.  Camping is cheaper and somewhat better at national parks or state parks and we have done it in a minivan.  Look into the Junior Ranger programs at national parks, great for kids and adults and usually free.  We have dozens of free badges from it and great educational experiences. But you should try to book that ahead.  We have driven through 49/50 states if you have any specific questions about road trips.

this was 2012 when we ran into them. maybe it was strategically placed. or maybe they just shipped some of the camping stuff seperately and i misunderstood.

NinetyFour

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5784
  • Location: Southwestern US
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2016, 07:40:15 AM »
Posting to follow.

AshStash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Mustachian travel tips
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2016, 11:43:45 AM »
You have already gotten lots of great advice but I'd say one of my big tips (beyond what's been offered) is to pack light.  We always have a goal of not checking any luggage and it makes travel so much more fun/enjoyable to just have everything in a backpack.  It also makes it much easier to get around your destination location on foot or via public transit, so you will avoid spending tons of money on taxis and have an easier time accessing things since you no longer need a decent sidewalk or elevators to haul your suitcase around.

Hey cats, I love your idea of traveling with backpacks instead of suitcases.  Do you have any recommendations on which type or make of backpack is best? Do you use one backpack for all kinds of purposes (like flying, hiking, day to day) etc?  Are they pricey or cheap?  Any thoughts you or others have on best all around backpack for travel would be cool.

The best one is the one that fits the person who will be carrying it. I've had several backpacks for various travel purposes (flying, hiking, day, and travel/suitcase) over the last 15 years and the ones I've used and loved the most have been the ones I tried on, with weights, and had properly fitted in a shop. Every single one that I've bought online without trying it on and fitting it has ended up on ebay eventually.  Get it fitted, ask them to put weight in it (if they don't have weights to put in or don't understand what you mean when you ask this, that may be a sign that this is not a great place to buy a backpack), and wear it around a while to see how it feels. If you have friends who can loan you some packs to try, that's ideal. I definitely didn't know what features I really really wanted in my hiking packs or even what sizes I needed until I was a few trips in.

I personally really love Osprey bags (their 15L Daylite is my favorite daypack) and I have their Porter 46 for a travel bag--I am getting to a point where I do a lot more with a rolling suitcase than a travel backpack but this bag is great for situations where I don't want a wheeled bag. It also fits me well, which is a personal thing and hard to know without trying it on. Be aware many good backpacks come in sizes based on torso length, so if you are buying online be sure you know what size you need.

I use my hiking packs as my laptop backpacks and flying backpacks. I have a 15L Osprey Daylite (also my city tourist bag and frequently used in lieu of a purse), a 22L Montane pack, and a 30L Gregory Jade pack, plus the 46L Osprey Porter. I don't do overnight hikes so these bags cover all of my day to day, hiking, travel, flying, laptop bag needs.

None of these were particularly cheap but they are all high quality, should last an extremely long time, fit my frame comfortably at the carrying weights I need, and have all of the features I wanted. I waited for sales and coupons for all of them--REI staff are usually really great at both fitting a pack for you AND telling you not to buy it til it goes on sale in 6 weeks. :)