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“It is when you leave everything that is familiar, and venture into the unfamiliar. This is when you find your truth”. -Melissa Jennewein
Travel will change you. It will change you in subtle ways, and it will change you in dramatic ways. Sometimes it will change you in ways that you don’t fully recognize or even comprehend in the moment, but after some time on the road, you will start to notice these things that seem to magically appear into your reality. After reflecting on over three years of backpacking solo through over 33 countries, I realized that travel has indeed changed my life in so many ways, and for this article, I have compiled a list of the Top 10 ways in which travel has challenged and therefore changed my life.
1- Losing my consumer “must have” things attitude. Before I started backpacking around the world, I owned many things. I had a lovely flat in Los Angeles California that was filled with art, furniture, clothes, electronics, and many useless knick knacks. After donating all of these “things”, and living a life with just the bare minimum needed to survive, my perspective on consumerism changed and I began to see what really mattered in life, and no surprise here- it was never those “things”.
2- Learned to communicate in new ways. I have always enjoyed language as it is through this that we, as humans, are able to communicate and share with each other. When I left for my travels, I only spoke English fluently and un poco Espanol. After spending some time in Europe I can now speak conversationally in 3 other languages and have learned the art of playing charades (which I always loved) and sign language which can be quite useful when you meet someone that does not share the same language. This has been a fun and often humorous way to meet more of our fellow humans on this planet and I have learned to enjoy every moment of it.
3- ‘Scary’ places no longer scare me. Coming from a military family where my father fought in many foreign wars, and with all of the news about terrorists, during my travels I decided to visit some of these places to form my own opinion. What I discovered is that yes, many cultures and traditions are much different than my own, but they are in no way like what I have been conditioned to believe they were. My experience was quite the opposite actually. I lived with several culturally diverse families and even though many of their traditions did not mesh with my own, I learned to appreciate the differences and gain a new perspective of the culture and these places and the people no longer frighten me.
4- Learning to sail a boat. I have always wanted to experience the freedom of sailing and letting the wind take you in the direction that it pleases, and during my travels I had the opportunity to do just that. On a 52 foot catamaran, I learned how to tack and jibe, tie various knots, read GPS and wind charts, and to be comfortable being in silence for extended periods of time. Sailing taught me patience, it taught me calmness, and it taught me to quite literally “go with the flow” which are lessons that automatically bring peace to my soul and I am grateful for.
5- The Vegetarian Diet. Before I started traveling I would eat just about anything which for me was a good thing because when you are venturing into new territory, you are also venturing into new foods. However, it was during my travels through North Africa where I witnessed the mis-treatment of animals used for food first hand. It was this direct experience that led me to change my mind, and my diet. I started a vegetarian diet and am enjoying all the lovely fruits and vegetables without the guilt of supporting the mis treatment of animals that can surly be found in most flesh factories and on some farms.
6- Growing my own food. When I was in Bavaria (southern Germany), I volunteered on a farm for some time with an amazing family who taught me all about permaculture. It was hard work, but when it came time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I really enjoyed the food much more and have found a deeper appreciation for it and the earth which sustained it. Not only that, but I have found a sense of freedom in knowing that I can provide nutrients for myself and know for sure that they are organic, and chemical/genetic modification free.
7- Building alternative living and sustainable shelters. Learning how to build yurts in Germany, tree houses in France and earth ships in Guatemala have been incredible experiences for me. Building shelters that are in harmony with the planet and creating them from the ground up has opened up my imagination to so many possibilities for the future of how we might one day live with the earth, instead of destroying it every chance we get. Using natural, found materials as well as recycling old tires, bottles and cans, plastic containers and more, I learned how to create amazing structures that made me feel more connected with the earth and shelters that I actually enjoyed being in for extended periods of time. These new structures gave me the sense of living with the environment instead of being separately contained from it and packaged neatly in a box.
8- Free from media influence. I imagine that anyone who has traveled extensively knows this one all too well. Being free from the influence of television and creating your own experience of life daily is absolutely the best way to live in my opinion. I am no longer controlled by advertising and agenda driven news that is created to keep me separate from myself, but rather I am in tune with what moves my heart and soul, and to me, this is true freedom. Being present in the moment and free to decide what experience I would like to have next is more exciting to me than what the latest fashion is, what Miley Cyrus is up to, or what America thinks about whose voice is the best (or the worst).
9- Learned to appreciate all people. Before traveling I had many opinions about what people were like in the world – mostly from stories I had heard, or from programs on television. Sadly, I must admit that not all of my opinions were even close to correct. I have learned that there all kinds of people from all kinds of places, and that there are people with good and bad intentions everywhere. I have learned to appreciate all people in the world based on their actions, and not on a stereotype that usually is not true to begin with.
10- Met a spiritual guru who showed me the matrix. This is quite possibly the one thing that changed my life more than all of the others during my travels thus far. I met a guru who I ended up spending roughly a year with traveling between Europe and the North Africa Sahara; a man who showed me a path to see the matrix that we live in. I saw how experiences can either paralyze or propel people. I learned how to break through my own unique limitations and integrate past experiences into my system to create limitless possibilities. I began to see patterns and behaviors in myself and others that were both destructive and creative, and learned how to elevate myself to a higher state of consciousness and thought which in itself is priceless.
It is through travel that I was able to have a better understanding of myself, this planet, and other people and beings. I was able to create my own reality and see what moved me, what inspired me, and what kept me going. Traveling is the best education that you can invest in, and I hope that this list has inspired you to go out and find what it is that you love. I’ll leave you with this disclaimer though- it may not at all be what you thought it might have been before. So go out and enjoy this ride we call life!
Whether your plans for your next holiday are to go swimming with sharks or to have the world’s most relaxing massage from a blind Chinese man, we all have one thing in common: We want to find the absolute best deal available and flight hacks are one way to get you there faster and cheaper.
Have you ever been looking at a flight that you’re not quite ready to book, and every time you go back to check the price it gets higher and higher?
You’re trying your best to be a savvy money saver. But it seems to be working against you!
People that succeed with travelling on a budget do two things very well:
(And you don’t have to have thousands of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Fans like Melissa to do it)
First, they identify booking techniques that get them results.
Second, they put 100% of their resources into executing those techniques. But you’re probably wondering: “How do I find booking strategies that actually work?”. Today I’m going to make it easy for you. All you need to do is carve out a few minutes of your day and tackle these 2 flight booking methods below.
If you want to know the best days to book on and fly on, how far in advance to book, you’re in the right place.
Ready? Let’s do this.
It’s easy to search for flights from A to B but don’t assume it’s the cheapest way.
By being a little creative about the route and splitting the ticket, you can slash the cost.
Typically associated with train fares. You can do the same with air travel.
The best way to utilise this is to combine with Airline Error Fares.
Or try “open-jaw tickets”
Where you fly into one airport but return to or from another.
Breaking a journey down into multiple tickets can cut costs without altering the route you wanted.
Stories are great, as children they can be used to teach us, and can still do so throughout life.
If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino. You’ll have seen the movie Django Unchained.
It almost personifies supply and demand:
In the movie, Django is separated from his wife and enslaved. He cannot simply try to buy her back, if the owner of his wife knew the exact situation, that she is so “valuable” to him, the price would be extortionate.
Django and his bounty hunter friend devise a plan to minimise attention by trying to purchase a common commodity, a mere Mandingo fighter from a collection of 20+, not the irreplaceable love of his life.
So, don your cowboy hat and pick up your pistol. Master misdirection to save more.
Learn The Django Technique:
This sounds strange at first, but airfare prices are not based on logic.
Instead, prices are based on supply and demand, and a route with less demand may be cheaper, even if it’s longer. Likewise, a route that has high supply, like many popular tourist destinations can be cheap.
The Django Technique, is not only frowned upon by the airlines, but they can penalize passengers who do it:
With me so far?
Many of these flights will have a stopover somewhere, it allows them to service more passengers, sell more tickets, and connect to more destinations, much like your local bus.
The cost of running a flight are fairly fixed; plane, crew, and fuel.
It makes more sense to have a stop in Dallas on the way to LA from Des Moines, rather than putting on a single flight to shuttle 4 passengers from Des Moines to Dallas.
This straightforward economics sometimes lead to a bizarre consequence:
In certain circumstances, airlines charge less for a longer, multi-legged flight than they do for the first leg of the same route by itself. To illustrate with an example, let’s stick with Dallas.
You may be thinking:
So what if the price is low for one destination? I want to go somewhere else!
This is not a trick question:
Would you rather pay $375 to fly to Dallas or $186?
Very few airlines fly direct from Des Moines to Dallas, in fact, only 4 do. With 2 being $100+ more than the best price.
There is very little competition, so airlines put their prices up.
If you book to fly to somewhere past your desired destination things get a little more interesting.
Take a look:
How can I take advantage?
As a result, a flight from airport A to airport C, with a connection at airport B, might be cheaper than a flight between airport A and airport B. It is then possible to purchase a flight ticket from airport A to airport C, disembark at the connection airport B and discard the remaining segment (B to C).
Walkthrough –Simple method to finding your own Django Technique deals:
If you’re flying domestic within the US try:
(STL) Saint Louis Lambert International.
If you’re flying in Europe try:
(FCO) Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy.
If flying in Asia try at least one of the following as Asia is much bigger:
-(ICN) Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
-(HKT) Phuket International Airport, Thailand
-(MNL) Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila, Philippines.
What happens: The search engine will search all available flights to all those cities in the long list (that are within 2000 miles of the central US, central EU or central Asia airport you selected). It will return the results of all the flights that CONNECT in your desired destination.
Look at the “From/To” column, and you’ll see your departure city and the desired destination location in the next column “STOPS”. To get the flight details, either click on the price at the left of the page; or hover your mouse on the right side of the display, which will reveal a “details” link.
Head straight to the airlines own website (very important) and book the flight as per the details provided in the ITA matrix.
If you don’t fancy doing the work involved in this travel hack, you can always head over to Skiplagged, and see what flights they have managed to find, whilst it’s a slight time saver I would always check manually for best results.
There’s nothing like a pair of big corporations suing a 22-year-old kid who turns an obscure loophole into a money saving website. On November 17th United Airlines, one of the three giant American carriers, and Orbitz, an online travel agency, filed a federal lawsuit demanding damages “in excess of $75,000” against Aktarer Zaman, a recent college graduate and the creator and owner of the website Skiplagged. The service enabled users to discover cheap airfares that did not appear on competing engines’ searches by utilising a tactic known as “hidden-city ticketing”, which takes advantage of occasional anomalies in airlines’ pricing algorithms.
The case was thrown out of court.
Moreover, even if Skiplagged vanished from the internet tomorrow, the automated hidden-city lookup tool Mr. Zaman sought to offer already exists, thanks to none other than Google’s ITA Matrix we have used. With just a little know-how, it is easy to find flights on Matrix, and employ the Django Technique.
You may NOT check any luggage.
This is the airline’s mainline of defense because they will not under any circumstances check your luggage only to the connection airport.
Therefore: Pack light with only carry-on luggage.
If for any reason airport staff try to separate you from your hand luggage and put it in the hold, politely give them one of these replies:
“I have medication in my bag which I must have with me at all times.” (By the way, aspirin is a medication…and you should always carry it to deal with the headaches that today’s airlines can give you.)
“I’m carrying some documents with me and am going to needing them in (name of your connecting city).” These documents might be a novel you are intending to read in your connecting city, but they don’t have to know that.
Or the simplest: “I’m sorry, but I need to keep the contents of my luggage with me at all times.” (If they want to know why just tell them “it’s rather personal” and leave it at that.)
Make it a habit of packing medication, or a book so you can be prepared, and you are telling the truth.
Only book your Django Technique ticket through the airline website.
If you book your ticket through a travel agency and only use the first part, the airline will possibly bill the agency for the amount of money you saved. If they don’t pay it, the airline will prohibit the agency from further ticketing on that airline. Which really, just isn’t fair on them.
Never submit your frequent flyer number.
Closing your account and revoking your miles is a tactic the airlines have, at times, tried to use to retaliate against frequent exploits. While it’s never been legally successful for the airlines when a customer has the time, money, and legal guts to challenge, considering the money you’re saving and the paltry value of those miles anyway, it’s best just to not give the airline a way to track you, especially if you use them frequently.
Be prepared for flight irregularities.
If the first leg of a flight is cancelled due to weather or any other reason. From the departure airport to the connection airport (Your desired airport).
Before even asking you, they may have re-booked you on a flight to the end destination via another hub in any other city, or even re-booked you on another airline. When this occurs, you must inform an agent that you booked this flight specifically because of the change of planes in the desired airport so you could meet somebody (which is true, assuming you are not going there to be completely alone and never see anybody). Politely insist that your new flight take you through the desired airport on your way to the end destination.
Only book your Django technique tickets as one-way tickets.
This is because as soon as you “miss” your first connecting flight, the airline will automatically cancel the rest of your ticket’s reservations. In most cases, you would need to do this anyway, as when you return home, you’ll be departing from a different city than the one you were originally ticketed for.
If you found these flight booking hacks useful, make sure you check out my full list of 15 flight booking hacks you can use today.
Guest Post Author Bio:
Joe Ryan –
“Slowly dragging my girlfriend around the world, place by place.”