Long haul travel on the cheap!

If you are a long term traveller or digital nomad with time on your hands then flying the around the World does not have to be expensive if you are prepared to be flexible with dates and destinations.

I recently flew from Sydney to London via Hawaii, Vegas, Mexico, Munich and Budapest on the cheap with mainly no-frills airlines.

Here is a breakdown of what I paid (prices in Pound Sterling)

Sydney to Honolulu via Auckland £200 with Air New Zealand
Honolulu to Las Vegas £90 with Allegiant Air
Las Vegas to Cancun £80 with United
Cancun to Munich £150 with Air Berlin
Munich to Budapest £20 (overland with DB trains)
Budapest to London Stansted £30 with Ryanair

Total = £570 (AUD $1050)

Had I booked a direct flight from London to Sydney I would have paid well over £900 when I left in January and I wouldn’t have got to see Hawaii and Mexico too!

I used skyscanner and google flights for most of my flight searching. Don’t like to admit it but I find Google flights better than Skyscanner as it’s easier to find cheaper fares at alternative airports nearby.

For instance it’s possible to search up to five airports from one country to five airports from another! Just supposing you were wanting a cheap flight to Dominican Republic you can enter the five nearest airports to you and then search the five main airports on the DR and Google will return the cheapest combinations.

Of course you need to be flexible if you really want to get the cheapest long haul fare but when you are travelling for months rather than weeks it’s normally no issue and travelling overland in most countries in the World is easy these days.

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The European Homeless in Australia

rest-area-turned-campsite
Free camping for all near Bryon Bay, NSW

I have recently returned from a three month road trip around the continent country of Australia and hoping to get a story published in the Australian press about a subculture of backpackers I met on my travels.

This subculture fits the typical stereotype of the backpacker in Australia. Young Europeans on a trip of a lifetime Downunder. Many come with little money but armed with a WHV (working holiday visa) they hope to work for some of their time in OZ before spending their hard earned on a trip around the country.

The reality of often very different. Unemployment in Australia is on the rise and competition for ‘backpacker’ type work is fierce. Much of the work in rural Australia is now offered on a voluntary basis.

This group of unemployed backpackers are rarely seen in the flashy backpacker hostels or holiday parks. A bed in a hostel in Sydney for instance can be up to $50 (£26) a night. Australia is no longer a cheap destination for the young budget traveller.

So during my trip in the trusty Toyota Station Wagon I came across many from this subculture. They were from France, Italy, Spain, Greece and not only were they sheltering from the European winter, they were also escaping the widespread youth unemployment in their countries.

The photo is from a roadside rest area, usually frequented by truckers and road weary travellers who stop off for a quick rest. This one near the popular resort of Byron Bay on the NSW coast was a virtual campsite. “Why pay $50 for a bed in a room with a dozen strangers when you can camp for free” is their claim.

I spoke to lots of the homeless backpackers and in many cases they could barely afford food let alone a bed in a ‘flashpackers’. They washed in the sea and showered by the beach and ate wherever they could fire up their stove. Some were getting by on just a few dollars a day saving only enough to change their return flight home.

I am not really sure what the purpose of me highlighting their plight and writing their story. In most cases they have a flight home and are certainly not on the brink of starvation. I guess I felt sorry for them. They are economic migrants of sorts and I don’t believe for one second that they set off from Paris, Madrid or Rome with the intention of sleeping night after night by the roadside eating instant noodles and taking cigarettes from passing motorists.

Australia is the dream destination of many young people the World over but it is a magnet for the unemployed youth of Europe. Like so many migrants the World over the green grass they seek is often illusive.