Some people make money to travel. Why not make money while we travel instead?
I’ve always been drawn by the freedom of not having a regular 9-5 job. Believe me, I have worked long hours and sometimes even more than full time, but being open to new opportunities has made it possible for me to combine work with travel. Being location independent has given me more liberty and joy than a regular paycheck. So what are the steps you can do to ”break free” without losing your financial wealth?
1. Take advantage of the digital era
Don’t quit your dayjob. Most meetings can be done via Skype or Facetime. If your work only requires you to sit behind a desk and a computer, bring a laptop with you so that you can work with a view. Talk with your employer and see if he or she thinks your tasks would be compatible with working remotely, at least to some extent. Most people have never dared to ask and just having the option to work remotely for some days might stimulate your inner travel bug.
2. Work less but for yourself
If you do quit your dayjob, try working for yourself. I have a small consultancy business. I do social media analysis for lifestyle brands. Working for myself makes it possible to trade some office hours for more travel.
3. Diversify your income stream
Being dependent on only one source of income might be hard and risky. I am studying sociology part time and I receive a small scholarship for my research each year. I have also been very interested in the stock market and have a few stocks that give me quarterly dividends. Again, no big bucks, but enough to save me on a rainy day.
4. Don’t underestimate the value of points
The biggest helper to working remotely is getting your points strategy right. This makes you fly and stay in hotels for free. Enroll in all frequent traveller programs, and seize the opportunity to accelerate or boost your points. Earn your points in nice promos where your activity will be rewarded with double or even quadruple points. Finally, redeem them when they are on sale.
5. Always be a gentleman
Be nice, flexible and always do what is expected from you. Working remotely is a privilege, so make sure your constituents know you’re grateful to be able to do so. And pay your taxes. A part of it goes to maintaining and growing your country’s diplomatic relations, which makes it easier for you to travel.
The salesmen of Marrakech are practicing the art of supply and demand. Expect to pay 1/10-1/5 of the initial offer.
After seeing pictures from Marrakech on Instagram, me and my fiancée were very intrigued and decided to go there. But we hadn’t thought of the many scams we would experience.
Don’t get me wrong. If you stay in a Riad, a traditional and somewhat luxurious Moroccan boutique hotel, you get really lovely and honest service, but the moment you step out on the streets, you’re gonna be a walking wallet that hustlers want to rip apart. Traveling in the third world often means being approached by locals trying to get money out from you in a number of creative ways, but Morocco is different. Although it isn’t really the third world anymore, hustlers are everywhere, they are aggressive and most of them seem to think you are walking around with millions.
Before we list the scams we experienced – here’s an overview over what things should cost in the souks.
100g of Moroccan spice: 10-20 Dirham Slippers or shoes: 50-100 Dirham Pastry: 1 dirham per cake / cookie Yoghurt / smoothie: 5 dirham A lamp, lantern: 50-70 Dirham A scarf in cashmere: 150 Dirham Another scarf: 50 Dirham Real argan oil with ”eco-sticker” 100 ml: 150 Dirham A taxi ride within the Medina: 5-10 Dirham, add another 10 Dirham if you or your hotel have called for the driver A taxi ride to the airport: 70 Dirham, but you could probably pay less if you speak arabic
The salesmen of Marrakech are practicing the art of supply and demand. Expect to pay 1/10-1/5 of their initial offer, unless there already is a ”prix fix”.
Do not tip! We wanted to buy shoes from a nice gentleman but couldn’t find anything that would fit my fiancée’s Cinderella foot. We felt bad for the guy, so I tipped him 10 Dirham (1 USD) for his effort. He then demanded at least 5 dollars. For nothing.
Scam group #1 – People who want to take you to places
”Sorry, square is this way”.
Many youngsters know exactly how to catch the attention of lost tourists who aren’t able to navigate in the small streets of the Medina. Most of them assume you’re going to the big square – Jemma El Fna, so they suggest another way. Best case: they show you to the square by taking a detour to some shops where they get commissions for bringing tourists. Worst case: they take you to a small alley where they ask for a donation. If you don’t pay, some shady dude will appear and make you pay.
”This is closed but another thing is open – only today”
Usually the same type of person approaches you nearby to a tourist attraction, saying it is closed. But he can show you to a market, a tannery, etc. We came across a very trustworthy gentleman next to Bahia Palace, which in fact had just closed. He then wanted to show us to the ”jewish quarter”. ”Only today” it was open for the public. It was more or less on our way, so we let him accompany us. Then he insisted on us going in a small, dark alley, which clearly wasn’t right and that was when we realised he was a fraud. A police officer we talked to later, told us this occurs sometimes and that we would have gotten robbed.
”People come from Atlas Mountain – only today”
This is the ”only today”-scam I love the most. It is totally harmless. But time consuming. Some friendly person who identifies himself as ”Berber” tells you he and his family have ”gone down the mountains” and brought hand-made things and they now are borrowing a shop around the corner. ”Only today! Just look, no buy!” You feel sorry for him, so you tag along. The family is there, but they are there every day. And you feel like an a-hole trying to get out of there not buying anything, so you buy.
”I no guide but I help”
Guides must be registered with the government and if someone wants this how you around, ask for ID. Nobody helps anyone for free in Marrakech.
Scam group #2 – Taxi drivers
Most of your Marrakech money will go to cab drivers. They are obliged to put the meter on, but they never do. Petit Taxis, that is. Grand Taxis do not have a meter. Having to change Riads in Morocco, we asked 10 different drivers we hailed on the street if they wanted to take us 2 kilometers to the new place with our bags. Their offers ranged all the way from 200 Dirham to 50. I insisted on the meter, showing my 10 fingers and not a penny more. After half an hour, a guy agreed on taking us for 15 Dirham. Shared with a local woman. We had nothing against it. It was a lovely ride and she was very nice. But as we got to our destination, the meter said 6 Dirham and the local woman got out and paid 2. He insisted on still getting 15 from me.
Riding to and from the airport is different. Here you will have to haggle down the price from ridiculous amounts like 500 Dirhams to 70. For a 3 kilometer ride, that is. This makes Marrakech more expensive for taxi per kilometer than Oslo, NYC or Zürich.
The female sneak-up ”tattoo artists”
Usually in the hideous square of Jemma El Fna. Some nice women will sneak up from behind, grab your hand and perform a Henna tattoo without asking you first. Then you need to pay. This happened to us but we waved them off last second. In return we were cursed and they wished us bad sex in the future. We recommend to have your hand in your pocket.
The involuntary photo model
You’re taking a photo and a person is very angry because he ended up in the picture. He now wants money, because you will sell that photograph for millions later. Solution? You take more than one shot and show him one picture that you erase if you have your camera strapped around your neck. If not, don’t bring up any valuables.
The baker / fruit dude
We experienced a ”baker” approaching us with coconut donuts. We said we didn’t have money, but he insisted on us tasting these donuts anyhow. ”Taste, only try, no money, don’t worry, be happy”. I tried saying I was gluten intolerant, but he didn’t mind. Once he forced the donuts in our hands, we had to pay him 25 Dirhams per donut. Bakeries sell these for 0,5 Dirham each. We gave one of the donuts back and gave him 5 Dirham just to get rid of him. 20 minutes later, he approached us and had no idea he had just been talking to us.
As a Swede, I get many questions about what Swedish credit cards to use to maximise your points travel, so here’s everything a Swede needs to know about points travel! In Swedish, this time.
Dessa svenska kreditkort ger bäst bonuspoäng för resor
Att samla kreditkortspoäng är ett fantastiskt sätt att maximera sitt resande. Varje månad har vi löpande utgifter såsom mat och drivmedel och ibland köper vi kläder eller renoverar hemma. När vi använder vårt kreditkort får vi tillbaka ca 1% i form av poäng att resa för. Om du handlar mat för 1200 kronor varje vecka får du 12 kronor tillbaka i resepoäng. Inte mycket på en vecka, men en fantastisk fin återbäring om man slår ut det på ett år. Dessutom får du gratis reseförsäkringar.
Det absolut viktigaste med poängresor är att ha tålamod och vara långsiktig. Det tar ofta två-tre år att skrapa ihop tillräckligt med poäng till en resa, men när man väl har uppnått sitt mål är det ganska underbart att kunna åka iväg helt gratis. Men det kräver medvetenhet.
Köp aldrig något som du annars inte hade köpt bara för att samla poäng.
Betala alltid fakturan i sin helhet så att du slipper räntan.
Prenumerera på SMS och e-mail från alla poängutgivare så att du kan nappa på tillfällen att få dubbla, trippla eller till och med tiodubbla poäng.
Skippa kontanterna helt.
Om du måste ta ut, var uppmärksam på uttagsavgifter och valutapåslag när du är utomlands.
Logga in regelbundet och se till att använda eller byta dina bonuspoäng innan de förfaller. Oftast sker detta efter 3-5 år.
Håll koll på årsavgift och vad poängen är värda i kronor. Om avgiften chockhöjs och poängen samtidigt devalveras kanske kortet inte är värt att ha kvar.
Håll utkik efter tjänster som kan boosta dina poäng! Exempelvis kan du få poäng värda ca 1000 kronor per år från din elleverantör och ännu högre återbäring om du har hemlarm. Här rekommenderar jag att söka information i varje bonusklubb och prenumerera på information.
1. SAS Eurobonus – American Express Premium
Kortet har överlägset bäst reseförsäkring av alla kort jag äger. Även poängintjäningen är mycket lukrativ, speciellt om man överstiger 150 000 kronor i transaktioner på ett kalenderår. Då får man resan till halva poängpriset. Alltså tar man med sin partner exempelvis utan extra kostnad till Asien för 2×30 000 poäng istället för 60 000 poäng. Poängen funkar även med SAS Partnerbolag i Star Alliance. Nackdelen är hög årsavgift, att en del butiker fortfarande inte accepterar, eller gnäller extra mycket över Amex, samt att du måste betala flygplatsavgift när du bokar din bonusresa. Ett tips här är att undvika så många mellanlandningar som möjligt.
Årsavgift: 1000 SEK Valutapåslag: 2% Poängvärde: 1,5 p / 1 SEK (1,3%-2,8% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Flygskatt Betyg: 4/5 Rekommendation: Köp
1. Norwegian – Bank Norwegian Visa
Norwegian har det mest rättvisa poängsystemet. När du köper din bonusresa är 1 NOK detsamma som 1 Cashpoint. Och återbäringen är strikt 1%. Handlar du för 1000 SEK, ca 950 NOK, får du 9,5 CashPoints på kontot. Mycket enkelt. Transaktioner för drygt 20 000 SEK ger 200 CashPoints, vilket räcker för en flygning inom Europa, exempelvis till London. Detta kortet ger dig resor snabbast om du spenderar mindre än 150 000 kr per år. Extra pluspoäng för avsaknad av årsavgift och att de även bjuder på flygskatt. En bonusresa är verkligen en gratisresa med Norwegian. Solklar delad förstaplats.
Årsavgift: 0 SEK Valutapåslag: 1,75% Poängvärde: 1 p / 1 NOK (0,95% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Inga Betyg: 5/5 Rekommendation: Köp
3. Nordic Choice Club – Mastercard
Flygpriserna sjunker, men hotellpriserna stiger. Det gör det extra relevant att se sig om efter kreditkort som kan ge bonusnätter istället för bonusflyg. Absolut bäst i kategorin är Nordic Choice Club. Takk, Petter Stordalen! Meget flink. Här bor du gratis från och med 7500 poäng och du får 10 poäng per 100 kronor. Vän av ordning räknar ut att det krävs ett spenderande på 75000 kronor för att bo gratis, men kortet ska snarare ses som ett sätt att nå poäng snabbare om man ändå bor på Choice Hotels då och då, eftersom du direkt får silverstatus. Dessutom 20% extrapoäng per vistelse (10% för silverstatus och 10% som en kortbonus) samt en tillgodokupong på 75 kronor per natt i restaurang och bar. Slår man ihop allt detta är kortet mer intressant än de flesta flygkort. En extra eloge för att de rätt ofta har kampanjer som ger dubbla poäng, inte bara på boende utan även på kortanvändande.
Årsavgift: 200 SEK Valutapåslag: 2% Poängvärde: 10 p / 100 SEK (0,7-1,6% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Inga Betyg: 5/5 (om man spenderar minst 2 nätter per år med Choice) Rekommendation: Köp
4. Coop MedMera Mer – Mastercard
Coop har nyligen försämrat sina villkor på en rad punkter, men är fortfarande en smart produkt. Kortet saknar valutapåslag och kontantuttagsavgift. Det sparar dig mycket huvudvärk, och pengar, utomlands. Du får dock bara 0,5% i återbäring och dessutom har de devalverat värdet på sina poäng betydligt. Tidigare kunde du byta 30 000 Coop-poäng mot 5000 Nordic Choice-poäng. Det innebar att om du spenderade 45 000 kronor med kortet, så fick du en gratisnatt hos Nordic Choice. Med den tidigare återbäringen om 1%, var det alltså smartare att använda Coopkortet för Choicenätter än Choice-kortet självt. Men nu är det ändring på saken och Coop-kunden får spendera 120 000 kronor för samma nöje. Likadant är det med byte till Eurobonuspoäng som blivit dyrare via Coop-kortet eftersom återbäringen halverats. Men Coop-kortet är fortfarande intressant om man handlar på Coop, för då är återbäringen hela 2%. Rekommendationen blir därför att endast handla i Coops butiker med kortet och istället använda det utomlands, i bankomat eller vid e-handel som görs i annan valuta än SEK.
Årsavgift: 348 SEK Poängvärde: 0,5 p / 1 SEK (0,5% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Ca 20% faktisk devalvering vid byte till olika resepoäng Betyg: 3/5 Rekommendation: Behåll
5. Finnair Plus – Mastercard
Finnair Plus är ett kort jag endast använder i nödfall. Men ibland ger de dubbla poäng och då kan man plocka fram det ur lådan. Du får endast 10 poäng per 100 kronor och du behöver långt mycket fler bonuspoäng när du ska flyga än på exempelvis SAS. Dessutom har alla Oneworld-bolag mage att råna dig på både flygskatt och bränsleavgift när du bokar bonusresa. Detta kan dock faktiskt ändras med tanke på den hårda konkurrens som finns i branschen varför jag behåller mitt kort. En bra tröst är att man konstant flyger för samma poängpris på en viss sträcka oavsett om man bokar tidigt eller sent. Om en flight som kostar 600 kr har gått upp till 2900 kr, kan det vara smart att nyttja poängen. Och man kan faktiskt byta sina poäng mot hotellpoäng och det värdet är ofta mer lukrativt än besparingen på flygbiljetten.
Årsavgift: 395 SEK Poängvärde: 10 p / 100 SEK (0,4-0,9% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Flygskatt och bränsleavgift, dock lägre än exempelvis British Airways Betyg: 2/5 Rekommendation: Behåll/avvakta
6. Marginalen Traveller – Mastercard
Marginalen Bank var för 3-4 år sedan en kul uppstickare med generösa poäng på bonusresor, men detta har ändrats. Under 2016 gjordes en omfattande devalvering där en resa till Seattle som tidigare brukade kosta 52 000 poäng plötsligt kostade 96 000. Dessutom ökades både årsavgift och poänginsamling blev ett svårare förehavande eftersom många kampanjer som gav upp till fyrdubbla poäng (exempelvis på internethandel) slopades. I sista sekund bokade jag i alla fall en flight till Seattle innan poängen devalverades, men upplevde till min stora avsmak att Resia (som sköter bokningarna) efter flera upprepade kontakter endast ville föreslå flighter på bolag som inräknade bränsleavgifter i flygskatten. Och i enlighet med villkoren skulle resenären själv betala flygskatt. Flygskatten uppgick till ca 3300 SEK. Hade jag köpt en biljett till Vancouver för vanliga pengar, som ändå var min slutdestination, hade den kostat mig 4400 SEK. Och då hade jag även fått mat på flyget istället för att behöva köpa lunch på Reykjaviks flygplats för 500 spänn. Jag har naturligtvis slängt kortet idag.
Årsavgift: 395 SEK Poängvärde: 1 p / 1 SEK (0,1-0,7% återbäring) Extra kostnader vid poängbokning: Bränsleavgift och flygskatt Betyg: 1/5 Rekommendation: Flyg och släng
Jag har tidigare även haft ett Finnair Diners Club, vilket jag var väldigt nöjd med, men slängt det till förmån för American Express. Till slut blev det tröttsamt med alla ställen som inte accepterade kortet och årsavgiften blev på tok för hög i förhållande till hur ofta det användes.
Man kan även ha kreditkort hos British Airways Avios, och Air Berlin Topbonus men eftersom båda flygbolag är inom Oneworld, känns det onödigt då jag redan har Finnair. Air Berlin har ett något bättre frequent flyer-program, medan British Airways har otroligt dålig återbäringskvot.
Även ICA och diverse bensinstationer har kort med poäng och återbäring. Är inte resor ditt förstahandsalternativ, kanske de även gör sig bra i din plånbok. Det viktigaste är att du inte kör på vanliga kredit- eller debitkort som kommer direkt från din bank. Värdet av det som skulle ha kunnat vara dina poäng hamnar istället hos farbror banken.
A trip together with your loved one is a great way to grow and to create beautiful memories together.
I used to be a solo traveler and I loved it. Then I met my girlfriend and I discovered that I love traveling with her even more than I loved traveling solo. I think it has something to do with being in love with your best friend. So I have been fascinated about other travel couples, how they do it and a favourite couple of mine is Alexander Waltner (swedishnomad.com / @swedishnomad) and Christine Wedberg (alienchris.com / @alienchrisblog) from Sweden who have mesmerised me a long time with their beautiful shots from their journeys from around the world.
I’m catching up with Alexander and Christine to see how they reason about traveling as a couple and doing it for a living – a highly inspiring discussion that really shows the passion and generosity of these two. Thanks so much guys!
Where are you right now and how are you doing?
We have some vacay in Sweden before our next adventure to New York, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba.
How did you guys meet?
We actually met at the beach on Rhodes in Greece. Both of us worked on the Scandinavian bar street, and it was love at first sight. This was back in 2012, and we have been a couple since 2013.
Where was the first destination you went together?
Budapest was our first destination, I, Alex, had been there before since my grandfather is from Hungary and I love it there, so, of course, I had to take my love to one of my favorite cities. Since then we have been back three times and we just love it, good food, cheap accommodation, great sightseeing, friendly locals and a nice city vibe.
How do you find traveling together as a couple differs from traveling solo?
Alexander: Well, it makes things a little easier when planning, at least if you want and like the same things as we do. It’s very rare that we don’t feel like doing the same thing. I also like the fact that you can get better accommodation and split the costs. While it can be fun to live at hostels and meet other travelers, it will not allow you to work properly. So it’s great to be able to rent nicer apartments where you can feel at home while on the road.
The downside is that you feel safe with your partner and won’t explore and challenge yourself as much as you would’ve when traveling solo. The downside is also one of the positive aspects of traveling as a couple. You are never alone if you don’t want to, and you always have someone you can trust and have your back.
Christine: Traveling together with someone you love is one of the most awesome things you can do. Sure, traveling solo can be very inspiring, fun and much freer – but a trip together with your loved one is a great way to grow and to create beautiful memories together.
If you are a couple and like to do different things, then solo traveling probably will be a better option. But, if you’re like Alex and me and like to do the same things, then traveling together is great!
You never get bored, since you’ve always got someone there to make you laugh, and you have an extra thinking mind in stressful situations. It’s also more economical, you always have someone to keep an extra eye on your belongings, and the best part – home is where the heart is, so you will never feel too far away from home.
Since you’re both full-time travel bloggers – Alexander is also the brain behind the Swedish travel website destinavo.com – how would you describe it is running a family business in travel?
It’s so much fun to share this passion, and we always inspire each other to write about new subjects. It’s also great because you can get a second perspective and proofread before publishing.
How is the planning procedure? Who picks where to go?
Well, we both pick where to go, but it’s not so much about picking, it’s more about the cheapest and most fun route available, and we choose together. We spend maybe a day on planning our next adventure and split the tasks like this; one will look for cheap flights, bus tickets and so on and come up with a fun route.
If we got some spare time, it’s not uncommon to showcase the route with a fun power point presentation on the tv-screen.
When we have chosen which route to take, the other will look for accommodation.
Tell us about your future travels and why you’ve chosen to go there.
The remainder of this year we’re going to New York, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Alexander: Well, New York is a city that everyone should visit, but what I’m looking forward to the most are Mexico and Cuba. I have a great interest in history, so a visit to the world wonder Chichen Itza is something that I have wanted to do for a long time.
The same goes for Cuba; I love different cultures, and this is the last chance to visit before the American tourists will take over. Puerto Rico seems amazing as well with the old San Juan and Cueva Ventana.
Christine: My biggest reason why I want to travel to New York is that my two older sisters live there, so I want to hang out with them as much as possible and, of course, explore the city!
When I think of Mexico, I imagine wild sea turtles, paradise beaches and super delicious Mexican food – I’m dying to eat tacos, burritos and fajitas! From what it seems, Mexico has plenty of beautiful beaches and lovely nature to explore – so that’s going to be awesome! Besides me eating a lot of Mexican food and splashing around in the turquoise water, I’m also looking forward to visiting the world-famous Chichen Itza!
Last but not least: Cuba and Puerto Rico has always been a big bucket list for me since I adore the nature of Puerto Rico and heard so many good things about Cuba!
Tell us about an unforgettable moment that you’ve encountered throughout your previous travels.
Alexander: Well let’s say, be sure that you order chicken filet when you order chicken in Vietnam. One unforgettable moment is when we were at Phu Quoc Island and stayed in the local village of Duong Dong.
At this point, we had been in Vietnam for several weeks and just wanted a normal dish with no surprises. In the local area of Duong Dong it’s quite hard to find a place where they speak English, so we didn’t know what we ordered.
Anyhow this particular night we found a place where they spoke a little English, and the waiter explained that the dish we were looking at in the text menu, in Vietnamese, was chicken, so we ordered two plates (yay, finally some plain chicken breast), at least that’s what we thought.
But not this time, when the plates arrived we both looked at each other and didn’t know whether we should cry or laugh or what to do. The chicken we ordered was not some ordinary chicken, on our plates we were looking at chicken feet, yes, feet of a chicken.
This is definitely something that we won’t forget about for a long time.
Christine: Well, there is actually one moment of our trip in India that I’ll never forget. It was during our 4-hour train ride from Agra to Jaipur. When the train left the train station in Agra, we started to see something we’ve never seen before.
People, men, women, children and whole families pooping together along the railroad.
We saw another one, another family and also a couple of brothers doing their morning routines together. I mean, when you sit on a train for 4 hours you have to look out the window not to get bored. So what did we do? We counted them! And guess how many people we saw pooping along the railroad from Agra to Jaipur within 4 hours? 72 people!
So if you ever decide to walk along a railroad in India – keep your eyes on the ground, so you don’t see yourself stepping into a fresh pile of crap.
What have these travels taught you?
Alexander: The world is way smaller than you think, and people are not so different after all. Another important thing, don’t stress. There’s so much to explore out there, but there’s no point to explore it in a hurry, you will just be disappointed and not feel like you’ve experienced that place enough.
Christine: My travels have taught me to appreciate the small things in life and not to be happy by buying things. Before I started to travel the world I wanted to have expensive bags, go on luxury vacations and have a fancy life. That’s not what I dream about today.
By seeing families and people living on the street beeing twice as happy, and that made me appreciate what I have and the great life that I have lived.
My travels have also taught me more about animal cruelty since I’ve seen it happen in real life. It has gotten me motivated to try and put a stop to animal cruelty by teaching others about why it’s wrong.
What would you recommend?
Alexander: Just go, the adventure awaits. No matter if you’re a couple or traveling solo if you want to travel, do it. If you don’t have the money? Prioritize and save, don’t waste your money on things you won’t remember in a year from now.
Start spending money on things that you will remember and cherish for the rest of your life. And also, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path, most places around the world have Wi-Fi nowadays, and most people are friendly, no matter where you go, at least if you’re friendly and bring a smile.
If you’re a traveler today, start traveling responsibly. It’s so important, both when it comes to animals and nature, but also towards the locals. We are all one in this world, and we need to start acting that way.
As a traveler, we can do our best to not leave any trash behind or encouraging bad habits and activities.
Christine: Travel light. To travel with only one light carry-on or a small backpack is the best way to travel. During your trip, you will realize how many things and clothes that you wished that you would’ve left home.
I got this advice before my backpacking trip in Asia, and I decided to travel with a 30-liter backpack. That’s pretty light if you compare to the most travelers traveling with 50-70 liter backpacks for only 2-3 months. During my six month trip in Asia, I could’ve easily brought half of the stuff I had with me – which would’ve saved me from the pain in my shoulders and money/time by only traveling with a hand luggage.
Have you ever dreamt of seeing New Zealand, but decided not to go, since you simply didn’t have ”enough time” to see it all?
Truth is, you don’t need to be a teenager with a one-year working-holiday-visa to see the beauty of the islands. All you need is to have a driver’s license and 10 days to spare. But make sure you leave your lazy bone companions at home.
Day 1-4 Glenorchy -> Queenstown -> Oamaru -> Christchurch
Most international flights take you to Auckland, so hop on the next domestic flight to Queenstown. The southwesternmost city on the South Island offers beautiful natural scenery with picturesque mountains, fiords and of course that Wanaka tree.
Start by renting a car (or camper) at Queenstown airport. It will give you the absolute freedom to see the mystery of the landscape as you please. Glenorchy is a small village just northwest of Queenstown, most known from certain scenes from Lord of the Rings, but also a great destination for adventurous souls, as kayaking, jet boating and skydiving is offered in the most beautiful surroundings.
The east coast of the South Island does not offer as magic scenery as Glenorchy and Wanaka, but it is definitely worth experiencing, especially if you’re a fan of penguins! Oamaru has two beautiful penguin colonies, the small Blue Penguins located the harbor and their big, Yellow-Eyed relatives on nearby Katiki Point.
Having seen one of the most beautiful sceneries on the planet, arriving in Christchurch at the end of this South Island adventure will give you quit the chock. The city was totally devastated in an earthquake, and is still a ghost town. However, it’s a convenient way of island-hopping as it offers plenty of connections to the North Island. Plus, it’s an easy town to drop off a one-way rental.
Day 4-5 Wellington
Wellington is probably the antithesis to Chistchurch. It’s a compact capital with a certain English feel to it. It’s extremely convenient as the city center is extremely compact and walkable. The cable car will take you to all levels of the city, so don’t miss this charming opportunity to learn more about the city and it’s history. If you’re interested in the latter, don’t miss Te Papa, an impressive museum complex offering exhibitions on all kinds of topics, everything from earthquakes to Maori culture.
Day 6-8 Rotorua -> Hobbiton
Depending on your budget, there are several ways of getting around the north island. If you value your time, a smart idea would be to fly directly from Wellington to Rotorua and rent your car there to get around the area. A cheaper option is however another one-way rental, this time from Wellington to Auckland. The benefit? Even more beautiful sights on the way.
Rotorua is a fascinating place, centrally located on the North Island. The entire village is built over hot springs and there is an incredible geothermal activity all over the village. It is also an amazing place to get familiar with the indigenous peoples of New Zealand as the Maori who still live around the hot springs invite you around their villages. You will learn about Maori history, see amazing cultural performances and also get to know how it is to live in a place where you can take a nice 40C bath and boil your vegetables in your garden.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have a bath in a hot spring yourself. Kerosene Creek offers year-round bathing just minutes south of Rotorua. You will get there by taking a left to an extremely unpaved road with giant holes. But it’s worth it.
Between Rotorua and Auckland, you will find another fascinating place. Hobbiton! Famous for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, this spectacular movie set will intrigue everyone, even somebody like myself that hasn’t seen the original movie. Get to know how you would live, had you been a Hobbit!
Day 9-10 Auckland
Auckland, the biggest city of New Zealand and the only true metropolis of the country. Extremely easy and convenient, don’t miss to stroll around the Domain, Auckland Harbour, Cornwall park or why not take the lift to the Sky Tower on a sunshiny day?
New Zealand is home to many amazing species. If you weren’t able to see native birds on the island on your 10 day stay – such as Emu’s, Kiwi’s or Kea’s – a stop by Auckland Zoo is a golden opportunity to catch up with all of the above and maybe squeeze in a really touristy selfie.
Falling commodity prices and dovish central banks have created the best travel opportunity in many, many years.
Over the last two years, oil prices have fallen 70% and the rest of the commodities are down big time. At the same time, China struggles and central banks all over the world seem to compete with who’s going to lower the interest rates the most, just to dope their own inflation.
But why writing about this on a travel blog?
Because it might be the best travel opportunity for you in many, many years!
As big capital flees from currencies connected to these countries to find safety and yield someplace else (preferably with the US dollar), some countries that were ridiculously expensive have turned amazingly affordable during the last year.
Americans save 51%
Canadians save 26%
Europeans save 33%
With a plunged currency and big cuts on corporate traveling in the oil industry, oil-based Norway just waits for foreigners to fill empty hotel rooms and plane seats. And what’s best – it still is one of the safest, cleanest and most convenient countries in the world.
With amazing outdoors, state-of-the-art skiing, midnight sun and northern lights, Norway is my top pick for this year’s vacationing.
Wintertime, don’t miss the northern lights in Tromsø, maybe the best place to spot the aurora’s on the planet because of how fast the weather changes. A couple of days in the village will guarantee at least a couple of opportunities with clear skies.
Summer or early fall, rent a car and drive to the many cliffs and fiords that you have seen so many pictures of. Trolltunga, Preikestolen and my favorite, Kjeragsbolten. Don’t forget to visit Bergen, which is the architectural heart of Norway. Bring a raincoat.
Oslo is a great weekend destination and a perfect stopover if you fly to Europe or Scandinavia with Norwegian Airlines. Ski on Tryvann and don’t miss Korketrekkeren, the world’s longest toboggan run. Rent a sledge or bring your own. The subway train will take you to the top of the hill. Be careful. I broke my thumb.
2. Vienna, Austria
Americans save 52%
Canadians save 28%
Europeans save 30%
The euro has fallen big time compared to the US dollar after the turbulence with Greece and the action of aggressive stimulations from the European Central Bank. But it has also attracted a big number of foreign travelers to, for instance, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Venice. Hotel prices have actually increased quite a lot, but these cities have also overshadowed other destinations that are equally interesting.
Every dandy should visit Vienna, the capital of classical music and home to the most stunning Art Nouveau architecture. Now down staggering 30% on hotel prices due to heavy oversupply. So take this opportunity to wander around the home town of Mozart for less. Make sure to attend Musikverein, as they play similar repertoire to the New Year’s concert even on other dates. The Spanish Riding school offers a unique experience with beautiful equestrian dressage, and if you’re still not tired of horses after you get out, there are chariots all over the city to take you wherever you please. You will feel like being back in the 19th century!
For non-Mozartophiles, The Golden Quarter offers a lot of nice upscale shopping and Schönbrunn has a great zoo. Arriving in winter? Don’t forget to visit Vienna Ice World, an amazing ice skating course with cool iced paths, alleys and bridges down by the parliament.
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Americans save 33%
Canadians save 8%
Europeans save 15%
Sweden is not a commodity-driven economy. The country is in fact doing really well, but the change of government from liberal to socialist combined with a very low inflation has caused the central bank to impose negative interest rates and sent the Swedish currency to all-time-lows. So take this opportunity to visit the most high-tech and service minded country in the western world.
With Vienna being the capital of classical music, Stockholm is probably its equivalent for Pop! Avid house music fans – make sure not to miss the Summerburst music festival. More traditional pop enthusiasts, may not leave until they have seen the Abba Museum and this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
To maximize your visit in Stockholm, go from late May to early August, stay in the city for a few days and treat yourself with an additional few days in the archipelago, preferably Sandhamn or Möja. Best way to go about it is by yacht, but the public transport is superb. If you’re in town for a quick stopover, just have a nice glimpse of the archipelago in Vaxholm by taking the Vaxholm ferry.
Stockholm offers great waterfront lodging along beautiful Strandvägen in the very center. Go by foot and don’t miss the islands of Skeppsholmen, Djurgården and Gamla Stan with many attractions such as museums, the world-famous Skansen and the small narrow medieval alleys. Public museums in Sweden are free of charge as of 2016, which saves you another big bill for a rainy day.
Americans save 25%
Europeans save 1%
Make sure to pay a visit to oil-driven Canada. The country has got it all and it’s on sale now. For every season! I’m not missing out on the spring in the Oakanagan, the summer in Toronto, the fall in Banff and the winter in Whistler.
Americans save 25%
Canadians overpay 2%
Europeans save 5%
Low oil prices and troubles in China have sent the Aussie dollar way down under from where it used to be. But it’s not much of a difference for Europeans. Canadians, who struggle with a weak currency themselves, would even lose a couple of cents on going there right now. But fortunately not too much.
Australia is a magical place with amazing wildlife, beautiful national parks and perfect beaches. You really should pay a visit down under if you haven’t done it before. Make sure to visit the Whitsunday Islands, but make sure to read my Ultimate guide to the Whitsundays before you go.
Vaud, Switzerland – Everything but a bargain
Everybody overpays by at least 15%.
But not everything is about the money. The little canton of Vaud north of Geneva is a beautiful sweet spot and you will have to pay the premium for time spent there, especially when you own Canadian Dollars and Swedish Crowns like we do. But we have fallen in love with the place and we can’t wait to return.
So if you truly want to go some place, don’t mind the fact that you are a currency loser. Go, be a wise spender and smile. Soon time will change and you will be the winner.
A quick flight to a meeting gave me a one-way ticket over the Atlantic.
The secret behind heavily discounted travel?
All major airlines have their own frequent flyer-programs. Hotel chains such as IHG or Hilton have their own reward systems, but there are also some great loyalty programs to enroll with third-party suppliers such as banks. Always look out for interesting sign-up offers, as you might reach your first flight by spending a small amount to qualify, or by simply signing up.
Don’t fall into the fuel trap
Before signing up, make sure you don’t fall into the most common bonus program trap. The fuel surcharge trap! Some airlines will have you pay separately even for the fuel while booking award flights! And this is such a huge part of the final bill. It’s just a cruel and greedy way of cheating loyal customers. When you have gathered points for a couple of years, you want to get a FREE flight, not just a 30% discount. So choose airlines that won’t impose fuel surcharge on any award flights! From my experience, the good guys are: American & Alaska (as long as you stay away from partner flights with British & Iberia), Scandinavian, Swiss, Turkish and United. But the No. 1 pick is Norwegian, as it is the only carrier to even include airport tax in their CashPoints.
Say goodbye to cash
Having a credit card connected to a bonus program is the fastest and easiest way of gathering points. If you consequently pay all your expenses with your cards, you will pretty soon gather enough for a free getaway. I myself managed to buy my car on my Diners Club which is connected to Finnair. I drove home with a new car and 120 000 points, which was enough for a trip to Asia. I converted it to 6 hotel nights with IHG.
Points from your business travels belong to you. No matter who paid for the ticket.
Many business travelers are still unaware of that they can redeem points for all of their business journeys, and believe me, this is a true gold mine. Even though your corporation is paying for the trip, the points belong to YOU. This applies to hotel stays, car rentals and plane tickets. Using Norwegian for my business travels, a Copenhagen – London return flight on a flexible ticket paid for a one-way journey over the Atlantic.
Use your credit card for your business expenses as well.
Whether it’s a new computer or a night out with your clients – a really good way of gathering points is to pay your business expenses with your bonus-attached credit card. Just keep the receipts and make sure your employer pays you before your monthly bill is due.
Allow yourself to get spammed!
Airlines and hotel chains love sending all kinds of e-mail blasts. Luckily for you, they really can come up with great offers. Airlines have secret sales and hotel chains can boost your points up to 20 times if you book the way they want you to book. I’m not saying you should go some place just because there’s an offer, but if you already are planning a journey, combining offers like these can be really favorable. While staying with IHG in multiple brands last spring, I spent a total of $1040 and earned points that saved me $786.
Always keep your eyes open!
There are bonuses to earn everywhere! Last year, I received an e-mail from my bank that I could register myself for a bonus program and receive points on all my stock trades! Who would imagine that a conservative Swiss bank would pay your restaurant and rental car bill? Well, I would have done the stock trades anyhow, so what’s not to like in free Bouillabaise and a Fiat?