The ultimate list of 14 travel hacking tools
Every freelancer has their own reason for pursuing freelance work. But one big benefit of freelancing is undeniable: the freedom to travel while working.
It’s easier than ever to work from wherever you want thanks to the evolution of tools, apps, services and marketplaces dedicated to the frequent traveler. Freelancers especially have an opportunity to take advantage of these tools as remote workers dictating their own schedule. You can work from anywhere, even when your clients are spread across time zones.
We understand there may be some hesitations around long-term travel: costs, distractions, wifi availability. In actuality, you can spend less money living a nomadic life than you would in a major metro area like New York or the San Francisco Bay Area. Heck, you could fly half-way across the world for the same cost of a nice winter coat, that you won’t need.
Here are the 14 best tools for traveling comfortably on a budget.
1) Twitter accounts dedicated to travel deals
Following Twitter accounts for deals is a great way to stay on top of sales before they’re gone. You have to be flexible because you never know what deals they’re going to offer but these unique opportunities will open your mind to new possibilities.
In his guide to inexpensive travel, Anthony Marnell shares the best Twitter accounts sharing flight deals throughout the day. For deals you’re not likely to find elsewhere, follow Secret Flying for inexpensive fares from departure points around the globe. The Flight Deal also publishes travel deals throughout the day departing from most major cities around the globe. If you’re loyal to Jet Blue, their @JetBlueCheeps account shares JetBlue-specific deals including their flash sales: low-cost deals on specific flights on particular dates. If you’re looking to learn about deals from all airlines, @airfarewatchdog claims it’s the only low airfare alert site covering all airlines.
Remember, these deals disappear fast. So if you see one you like, make sure you’re in the clear with client meetings and deadlines and book it! If you can handle one more notifications, set these accounts to get push notifications to your phone, alerting you of new tweets. To do so, visit their Twitter profile → click on the turn wheel for settings → select “turn on mobile notifications.”
There are a ton of travel deal apps out there, but there are a few that are especially great for finding unique deals. One of those is Hopper, a mobile app Peep and CP team member Lauren Jewell swears by. When you search for a flight on the app, it shares a calendar view showing you which days are the least expensive to fly. It will also send you an alert before it does, prompting you to “book now.”
If you’re flexible in terms of dates and locations, Hitlist is perfect for you. You can set up alerts to inform you of (usually last minute) trip deals from your hometown. For example, you could fly from NY to Cancun, Mexico for seven days for less than $300 in early May.
From the folks at Hopper, GTFO is a bit like Hitlist, but with a more simple UI, listing destinations and flight prices from your hometown. Just click on your city of choice to see date options.
5) Airline newsletters
If you use popular flight aggregators such as Hipmunk, Google Flights, Kayak, Skyscanner or the ones mentioned above, you’ll likely miss out on flight deals from budget airlines such as WOW Air and Norwegian.
To keep up with all deals, sign up for the newsletters from all of the airlines that fly from your local airport or that you’re a loyalty member of (meaning you collect points with that airline). We suggest setting up a rule in your mail client so they’re filtered into a folder and don’t clutter up your inbox. Scan through the subject lines at the end of the day to see if anything jumps out at you, then archive the rest.
6) Credit card point programs
Surely you’ve heard plenty of tips about using credit card points for travel perks and cheap flights. Our travel-hacking Peeps say there are some cards that are must-haves, namely these:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Ink Plus
- Chase Southwest
- Mileage Plus Explorer
- Citi AAdvantage
- Capital One Venture Miles Card
- AMEX Skymiles Card
Most of these cards also don’t charge you international transaction fees. Talk to your bank about fees on your credit and debit cards before traveling. If you really want to up your points game, follow The Points Guy for the best tips and tactics for making the most of loyalty programs.
7) Amtrak and EuRail programs
Flying isn’t the only way to get from point A to point B. Traveling by train can be both enjoyable and economical as long as you book your trip at least a month in advance. Last minute Amtrak tickets are notorious for being pricey. That said, the rail service offers frequent deals and discounts to its newsletter subscribers if you sign up.
They’ve also run programs in the past offering free travel to writers, such as the Residency for Writers. Over a year, 24 writers work on writing projects of their choice in the unique workspace of a long-distance train. Each writer’s round-trip journey includes accommodations on board a sleeper car equipped with a bed, a desk and outlets.
If you’re traveling throughout Europe,EuRail Passes are worth checking out. However, the pros say to only purchase EuRail Pass if you’re traveling to several European cities. If you’re only traveling between two or three, you’re better off purchasing regular tickets.
Believe it or not, you can actually find a place to stay for free. That means if you’re renting or subletting your home out, you can actually make more money than you would staying home. Several Peeps swear by TrustedHousesitters.com. The site helps you find places to stay for free in turn for watching the homeowner’s pets. Peep Marian Schembari is a host on Trusted Housesitters, often finding sitters for her apartment in Germany as her and her husband travel frequently.
Peep Kat Loughrey recommended the housesitting section of the Globetrotter Girls blog for tips on how to do house sitting right.
The benefits of Airbnb are two-sided for frequent and long-term travelers. On one side, you can rent out your house or room while you travel like Peeps Ashley and Antony McGregor Dey do. On the flip side, you can take advantage of Airbnb to live like a local in your destination of choice. You can either rent out an entire apartment, house, boathouse, Yurt, treehouse, whatever suits your desires all to yourself.
Or, you can opt for renting a room to stay with hosts when they’re home who typically act as live-in tour guides. Airbnb also just launched a new matching service that helps pair travelers to the right host to plan their trip from start to end – activities included.
If you’re looking for a free place to stay for a few nights at a time (or more, depending on your host!), Couchsurfing is another great option for finding a safe place to stay. It’s quite literally what it sounds like. You can stay on people’s couch or spare room very inexpensively. But it’s more than that. Couchsurfing is a community of fellow travelers and digital nomads working across industries to connect and build relationships with.
It’s nearly impossible to live without wifi as a freelancer working in the digital space. A fast connection to wifi is your lifeblood. Fortunately, there are several options for connecting to the internet nearly anywhere with a signal. T-Mobile has a great hotspot with decent deals on data packages, including daily for $5 (the cost of a latte in the US) and weekly for $10. Lauren said Xfinity cable company has hotspots f you’re based in the US and have (or know someone who has) an account and is willing to share their login details with you.
Another hack is to find the local spots with free wifi and connect on while you’re there, which will then be saved to your device. Peep Samuel Pavin sais that the most reliable hubs for wifi in nearly any location are pubs, Starbucks and Mcdonald’s. Ashley said she scopes out the closest internet cafes, coffee shops or other places with wifi in case it goes out where she’s staying. She added, “My first couple days in San Pedro, I popped into most of the shops/restaurants/cafes/bars for a light snack or drink and got their wifi passwords. Now I automatically connect to wifi all over the island.”
NomadList is a resource and community that ranks locations based on digital nomad friendliness: coworking opportunities, strength and availability of wifi, costs of accommodations, food and more.
It’s also much more than that. When you become a member of NomadList, you become a member of a community of digital nomads. They share tips, tricks, and even accommodations with each other, often organizing meetups and events in various cities around the world geared for the long-term traveler. Take advantage of communities like NomadList to learn as much as possible about your destination from locals.
13) Foursquare and Yelp
What’s the point of traveling if you’re not going to immerse yourself in local culture? Peep Jessie Wood says Foursquare is great for finding restaurants, museums, shops and other attractions in new cities – including those off the beaten path. Foursquare shares tips from other people who’ve visited that location, prioritizing those from your friends if they’ve been to that location. And we all value recommendations from our friends. If you’re looking for what people outside of your personal network suggest, Yelp is a great option as the frequent contributors are very dedicated to sharing truthful reviews.
14) Facebook Groups
Like NomadList and Couchsurfing, Facebook is an awesome resource for connecting with fellow travelers and nomads around the world. There are plenty of Facebook Groups dedicated to travel with people ready to share tips and maybe even a couch. If you do a Group search for “Travel” you’ll likely find many groups dedicated to sharing travel tips and deals, such as Digital Nomads Around The World or Girls LOVE Travel.
Peep Monica Aguilar says, “I live in Baja California (Ensenada). One of the things I’ve noticed the most in the Americas is that because a lot of local business’ don’t have websites, they tend to use Facebook Groups. A lot. One of the tips I would share is that if you’re looking for more local information, do a search for groups starting with the name of city + expat. I’ve found way more out about local events/services etc from groups than I ever did by googling it while in Peru, Colombia, Belize and Mexico.”
Get those bags packed!
Armed with the right tools, you could be working from a beach or mountaintop (ok, maybe not a mountaintop) next week! Traveling comfortably on a budget is all about knowing where to look for deals, being flexible and having flexible work opportunities. We hope the above tips, hacks and tools help you explore the places you’ve been dreaming about!
Looking for work that allows you to travel and work from anywhere? Check out the remote freelance jobs available on CloudPeeps and go explore!
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