Sorry if I got you excited, but this is not that kind of friends with benefits travel hacking you were thinking about. I mean I’ve heard of people who does Tinder travel hacking, and they basically just sleep around everywhere (pun intended :).
There are a lot of travel hacking articles out there and for the most part people essentially churn credit card’s sign-on bonuses to travel for free. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the most lucrative and quickest ways to help you travel cheaply. However, I think you are missing out if you are not factoring friends with benefits as part of your travel hacking equation.
What is Friends with Benefits Travel Hacking?
Literally, friends with benefits.
Think of a friend that you can travel with to share costs. Or my favorite, which is visiting friends in their own country/city. All of this can help you to get the most out of your travels, monetarily and most importantly, getting the best and most authentic experiences possible.
Let’s break it down.
Visiting Friends at Their Own Country/City
This is by farrrrrrrrr my favorite way to travel!
Nothing beats exploring a city/place with a local who’s also your good friend! As you know planning your travels and itineraries could get overwhelming at times. When I visit friends, I tend to only do little research of the place I am going and I would just leave the rest to my friends. Not only do they know the best places to go, they also speak the language and know the culture. I simply just show up and let them do the rest. They’ve got you covered!
Here are some of the benefits:
-You don’t have to Worry about Transportations
For instance, when I visited Germany, my friend Micheal arranged a super random ride for me from Berlin to Nuremberg. I told him that I don’t want to spend too much money on a plane ticket to go from Berlin to Nuremberg. Michael simply replied, “no worries, I got it!” He called me back a few minutes later, “just go to this place on this date, and there would be a blue Opel sedan picking you up to go to Nuremberg. Give them $30 Euro and you are set.”
Going into a stranger’s car under a bridge in a foreign country? I am sure my mama is totally cool with that!
It turned out that it was a popular ride-share service that Germans use all the time. This was all before Uber and Lyft were a thing.
Without a doubt I would have no clue that this was even an option without Michael’s help.
-You get the BEST Experiences!!!
Not only do your friends know the best places to go, but the best part? You get to kick it with them and their friends and family!
In addition to showing me around Nuremberg and Munich, Michael took me to the village where his family lives. It was super cool for me to experience what village life is like in Germany. His family is also super awesome and friendly and fed me like a pig! Michael also took me to a university party where his sister goes to school.
When in Finland, my friends took me to a local market and bought whole bunch of traditional Finnish foods to eat at the park. They were so enthusiastic (perhaps they just wanted to see my reactions) for me to try the Finnish national candy- Salmiakki and watched for my reaction. I mean come on…I seriously had no idea how people eat that…
Landmarks and top tourist spots are obviously fun to go, but I’d choose hanging out with a local and have some cultural exchanges over crowded tourists spots any day!
-You get to crash at their place
It’s a bonus if you can crash at your friends place. Not only to save money, but it’s like Airbnb with the host! You really get to see how people with different cultures live in an intimate way.
From tiny studio in New York to tatami in Japan, I would always get the wow factor traveling to new places.
-Your friends will figure something out if they can’t personally help
Often times for various reasons (such as schedule conflict, different interests, unfamiliar with certain things), your friend might not be able to help you, but they will almost always figure something out for you. That’s what friends do!
A lot of times they will even hook you up with their friends to help you out.
For instance, when I was in Rome, my friend actually ended up arranging her roommate to take me out and showed me around since she wasn’t available.
Traveling with Friends
Traveling with friends is an underrated way of travel hacking. Not only do you get to watch out for one another, you get to split costs on things such as accommodations, transportation and more.
When me and my friends went to Croatia together, we were lucky to have five people. Just the maximum capacity for a car. We were able to split our luxury BMW five ways as well as accommodations, which ended up being very cost effective.
Thanks for all of you who have hosted and helped me with my travels in the past, you know who you are. I am definitely looking forward to host you one day.
One of my goals is to make more friends from around the world so I get to visit them.
As for me, if you are ever in Texas, the Bay Area (in Northern California), and Taipei, I will make sure to get you covered!
What’s your favorite way of travel hacking besides credit cards? Comment below!