Welcome to the 2nd part of the “Around the World for Free” series!
In this part, we will be talking about Alternate Travel and how to utilize it to to your advantage and travel around the world for free!
Finally, “Around the World for Free” is a multi-part series that is posted weekly, so make sure you tune in and check out the new posts whenever you can!
What is Alternate Travel?
I mentioned very briefly about what Alternate Travel was back in Part 1, and it is typically available for people who travel for work.
When people travel for work, they would travel to a client site during the weekdays and fly home on the weekends. Instead of going home, it is possible to alternately travel to a destination of your choice. That is what alternate travel is.
The simplest way of putting it is instead of flying home for the weekend, you would instead fly somewhere else.
There are some things that you should look into before you try and do alternate travel, as the policy differs from company to company.
Here’s a checklist for you to research:
- Are you traveling for work?
- Does your travel policy allow for alternate travel?
- Would alternate travel be taxed?
- How lenient is your firm with expenses while you are performing alternate travel?
Depending on your answers, you may be a bit restricted on alternate travel, but if you can do it, that’s good!
Now let’s get into how it all works!
How Alternate Travel Works
For this example, let’s assume the best case scenario and our fictitious company allows us to do the following:
- They allow us to travel to any destination as long as the cost is equivalent to the cost to travel back home.
- They do not tax us on alternate travel as it is counted as an expense to go home.
- They allow us to fly our preferred airline and won’t restrict us to using the cheapest one.
- They do not allow accommodation expenses to be charged on the business card, so it must be charged to your personal card.
Now to give it a bit more of a setting, let’s say that we fly out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) every Monday Morning and arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York the same day.
According to Google Flights, the typical price for this flight on American Airlines (my preferred airline carrier) is $832.00 for my desired time. It would have been considerably cheaper if my arrival and departure time to the client site was flexible, but let’s say it’s not for this example.
With $832.00 as the typical price for a round trip flight from home to the work, this sets the benchmark for all future flights that I purchase and that they should be around the same amount or less.
This means that if we wanted to do some alternate travel, we would be able to travel anywhere in the world as long as the ticket is around $832.00 or less!
After some quick searching, I found a flight from New York to London for $608.00 on April 6th (Friday) to April 10th (Monday)!
This means I would leave work on Thursday Afternoon, fly to London, and arrive Friday Morning.
For the rest of Friday, I would work remotely and then spend my weekend sightseeing, before flying back to New York on Monday Morning for work.
Of course, this contradicts our earlier flight before because we were supposed to fly back to Los Angeles on the 6th!
Well, the easiest way to fix that is to shift the date to the next week, so instead of returning to Los Angeles on the 6th, you would return on the 13th.
Now if we take a look at our complete schedule, we would be flying on the following dates:
- April 3: Los Angeles to New York
- April 6: New York to London
- April 10: London to New York
- April 13: New York to Los Angeles
By performing alternate travel, we were able to visit London for a short weekend and check out some cool landmarks like the London Eye, Big Ben, or maybe even the British Museum!
We could also extend our short trip by combining the weekends with weekday holidays, like Memorial Day, to get us a few more days of sightseeing and exploring!
But what about accommodations? Where would I stay?
Accommodation is generally pretty easy to get if you travel around for work already. You’ll generally rack up points from staying in hotels and can use those points for a hotel in London or wherever you plan to go.
If you don’t have any points, I recommend looking at hostels (check out Hostel World or Hostels.com for some cheap ones!) around the area you plan to stay, they are generally very cheap and can range from $10 – $40 USD.
Furthermore, if you are traveling out of the country a lot, I recommend getting a no-fee ATM card, like the Charles Schwab Debit Card, as you can withdraw international currency for no fees. You can sign up for their checking account at their website and there are no fees or monthly minimums needed to maintain your account!
To recap, alternative travel is a great way of seeing the world for cheap when you already travel for work.
Depending on your company’s travel policies, you may not have to pay for a ticket to an exotic location like Hawaii or the Bahamas and go exploring for free. You might even get free accommodation and not have to pay for anything at all!
Furthermore, the resources that were used or mentioned in this post are:
- Google Flights (great for pricing out tickets for the general user, I mainly use this for alternate travel)
- Hostel World (cheap accommodation for those on a budget)
- Hostels.com (cheap accommodation for those on a budget)
- Charles Schwab Debit Card (great no-fee ATM card that allows you to withdraw at any ATM for $0! I love this card when traveling in a cash-heavy society.)
With that, what do you think about Alternate Travel? Would you do it if you could and where would you go? What do you think I should cover or go over more about in travel hacking? Are you looking forward to any specific topics?
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Here is the table of contents for the “Around the World for Free” series: