Welcome to the latest installment of the "Save, Splurge, Steal" interview series. Getting great value when I travel is always such a fun challenge for me and I love to learn how other people get the best possible experience for their available time and money. I'm asking pro travelers to share their expertise and I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I do!
Meet Andrew from dobbernationLOVES!
Andrew Dobson runs dobbernationLOVES, a daily lifestyle blog focussed on inspiring the world to “Eat Well, Travel Hard, Live Better.” He originally started blogging to document a three year adventure around the world to visit over 60 countries. While he moved to Toronto in 2010 to “settle down,” the blog has retained its original travel roots, as well as sharing plenty of Toronto Tales.
1) How do you save money in order to travel?
Flights are one of the largest expenses when booking a vacation. In the past whenever I’ve booked travel for myself I first research the region I want to visit and then do research on local budget carriers to try and save money. You can also save a ton of money by taking advantage of free layovers/connections en route home. A few examples of what I’ve done in the past below:
Europe: fly from Toronto to mainland Europe via Reykjavik on Iceland Air and take advantage of a free layover to visit this jaw dropping destination. I connected through the capital to Helsinki and on my way home departed from Stockholm.
Asia: I was living in Seoul Korea when I decided to embark on a one year travel adventure around Asia. I did extensive research on what airlines fly in and out of Incheon Airport and then individually researched each airline. I discovered that the cheapest flight I could get out of Seoul was via Cebu Pacific which I had never heard of before. It’s a low cost carrier based in the Philippines so I started my adventure in Manila. I remember the one way flight was 300-400 dollars cheaper than the other cheapest flights which flew to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Hanoi.
Australia/New Zealand: I enjoyed an epic trip home to Toronto from Sydney Australia. So many people complain about the length of the non stop flights and since I was in no rush to get home ended up booking a number of flights (on one ticket via multi-destination option) into Toronto. I remember the total cost of this “one way flight” was under 800 dollars and had me flying to the following destinations with a week long stop in each spot. Sydney-Fjii-Hawaii-Vancouver-Chicago-DC-NYC-Boston-Montreal-Toronto
2) Everyone needs to splurge now and then – describe a time when you blew your budget and it was worth every penny.
I always spend my disposable income on culinary experiences. I’m a food writer so I’m rather biased here! Most of my solo adventures before becoming a travel writer were out of hostels and guest houses.
3) There’s nothing like a bargain – name your favorite great steal of a deal?
Cuba Cruise launched last year as the first cruise line offering a circumnavigation of Cuba in just one week. For those looking to explore Cuba for its culture and want to see more than one destination have an opportunity to do so with Cuba Cruise. At the beginning of each season they offer amazing deals. This year I believe they offered a one week cruise for under 700 dollars a person including airfare (ridiculous!)
4) What tips do you have for a traveler to get the best value for their money?
Do your research. Once you've had an opportunity to travel to a few destinations you’ll realize what aspects of a trip you are most likely to splurge on. For those booking sun destinations this winter to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America etc… I can’t emphasize enough how much money you can save by avoiding "All-Inclusive" resorts. You can find a lovely, locally owned property for a fraction of the cost and then spend your extra cash on authentic local restaurants and bars at your own discretion rather than feeling obligated to drink and eat yourself silly at the buffet.
5) Time is valuable too – how do you make every moment count?
I've always been a Type A personality, even before I started traveling for work. I fondly remember my first solo travel experience in 2006. It was the summer of the World Cup in Germany and I booked all of my flights and hostels throughout Europe that summer before I departed. I remember printing out all of my hotel bookings and flights in the family kitchen and storing them in a manila folder which I traveled with through out the duration of my trip. For those looking to backpack or indulge in long term travel stints, planning your first few weeks in advance allows you to relax a bit and know you have a place to stay at home. Also take into consideration festivals and events going on when you are traveling. I’m glad I booked my hostels that summer in advance as many major hubs in Germany were totally sold out because of the World Cup. So much so that even when I booked my bed in Berlin 2 months in advance I had to stay at a hostel almost an hour outside of the city centre. Do your homework in advance and you’ll save time on the road so you can enjoy yourself on vacation and soak up the experience.
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Save, Splurge, Steal: Traveling with MJ
Save, Splurge, Steal: The Picktures
Save, Splurge, Steal: 1 Dad, 1 Kid