My Approach to Travel

I have always felt compelled to explore every corner of the world. Until 2014, I believed it to be totally unaffordable for a young person like myself to take international trips with any regularity, so I shelved the idea until I came across Norwegian Air’s one-way transatlantic fares for ~$150. The mathematician in me quickly recognized booking travel as an optimization problem just waiting to be solved, so from then on, I was hooked.

Once I learned that airfares are arbitrary and the way you book trips can result in massive price differences, I realized I could stretch my dollars into far more travel than I ever thought possible. Airlines publish and change thousands of airfares every day; if you’re trying to see the whole world, and aren’t in any particular hurry, it makes sense to find and book the best of those fares. And the best fares might require originating travel in other countries, booking on the local version of a foreign airline’s website instead of the tourist version, taking advantage of fares whose rules make free or low-cost stopovers available to you, or even booking tickets with extra flights you don’t intend to take (hidden-city ticketing). Flexibility is key.

I began as and continue to be a cost-conscious traveler, but that doesn’t mean I only stay in hostels and eat street food. I won’t hesitate to book a great deal at a fine hotel or a first-class airfare if the price is right. It is just as important to me that my travel is both fulfilling and cost-effective. It’s all about finding the optimal value.

I believe traveling often and to far-flung places is some of the best real-world, hands-on experience one can get in life, and I will always make time for it. I often hear people say “I wish I could travel like you do”, to which I usually respond that one can “create their own luck” by simply shuffling priorities around a bit. You can always take a bit of time away and make that dream trip a reality. Because if you wait, incredible travel opportunities will pass you by, and your body might not be capable of what it once was.

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