Traveling this summer? Jeremy Scott Foster has been traveling the world for 7 years. He works full-time as a travel photographer, writer, influencer, and digital marketer and has been featured by the International New York Times, National Geographic, USA Today, BuzzFeed and more.
He is the founding editor of the popular adventure travel blog, travelFREAK. Join him for this casual Lunch & Learn, where Jeremy will share his tips, tricks, and hacks to help you travel smarter and cheaper this summer.
He’ll cover the best countries to travel to in 2017 and how to rack up hundreds of thousands of airline miles to cash in on free flights and hotel stays. He’ll talk about the best sites to use for booking your travel, where to find the best travel info, how to cut down on costs while you’re on the ground, and even the travel mindset.
First Things First
- The first steps to planning a trip are deciding what kind of trip you want. Hiking/trekking? All-inclusive vacation? Want to see history? Eat food? Once you know what kind of vacation/trip you want, THEN pick the location.
- There’s a difference between traveling and going on vacation. Especially if you’re traveling with friends, make sure you know exactly which one you’re doing.
- DON’T FORGET TRAVEL INSURANCE. Biggest mistake I see people make. I’ve been lucky to have it on numerous occasions. I recommend World Nomads.
Where to Travel in 2017?
There are SO many great places to travel to this summer.
- North America – So much to do and see, but ROUGH on the wallet. Travel in the USA is expensive!
- Colorado for roughing it—camping, hiking, etc
- Kauai, Hawaii—amazing weather this summer
- Banff, Canada (Lake Louise)
- Playa del Carmen/Tulum for beach & party
- Isla Holbox for chill out
- Central/South America
- Costa Rica has amazing travel infrastructure but lots of tourists.
- Colombia is super safe! Probably safest in all of SA.
- Argentina (Buenos Aires!)
- Europe – Travel around Europe is super cheap! Flights are like $5 on Ryanair.
- The Balkans are a great choice for summer—and cheap!
- Berlin is a personal favorite, but everywhere in Germany is cool
- Other cool European cities are Budapest, Prague, Belgrade, Copenhagen, Amsterdam
- Iceland is a hot destination because flights are cheap, but it’s crazy expensive once you get on the ground.
- Greece has everything from the beach & islands and parties to ruins and history, plus fascinating culture.
- Spain—Barcelona, Ibiza, Canary Islands, etc. SO many amazing places in Spain.
- Stockholm, Sweden is good at this time—weather is milder during the summer
- Montenegro & Croatia for coastline (also yacht week)
- Egypt is next level weird and it IS safe to travel there.
- Botswana for Safari (don’t book a safari ahead of time—you can get amazing discounts once you touch down on the ground)
- Capetown has wine & amazing views + dining and people
- Pakistan & Kyrgyzstan are (surprisingly!) getting some serious attention right now
- Jordan is always a favorite.
- Japan is hot right now!
- China is one of my favorite countries ever.
- Thailand & Indonesia are always a favorite (but some parts of Thailand get rainy this time of year)
- Vietnam is my favorite country of all time
- Israel is VERY interest—but if you go, make sure you visit Palestine too. It’s not unsafe. Take this tour: https://abrahamtours.com/tours/hebron-tour/
The fact is, ALL these places are good places to travel, whether it’s high season or low season. I never travel based on weather (unless we’re talking big-time rainy season). In fact, low season is often better because it means better prices and a more authentic experience. Though sometimes you have to battle the weather, that means you see the city from a different perspective (i.e. getting stuck in coffee shops and hanging out inside drinking wine instead of looking for views, but that’s still awesome in my book).
The Best Travel Credit Cards to Get Right Now
If you’re not working towards a bonus, it’s time to sign up for a new card. You should ALWAYS be working towards a bonus (just make sure you’re paying everything off, and don’t spend unless you normally would).
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- 50,000 bonus points
- 3x per dollar on travel & dining
- Access to lounges (Priority Pass)
- Ink Business Preferred Card from Chase
- 80,000 bonus points, must register as a business
- 3x per dollar on travel & dining plus advertising spend on social media
- American Express Platinum
- 60,000 bonus points, 5x points per dollar on hotels and airfare
- $200 airline rebate (annual)
- $200 Uber credits
- Access to lounges
I always check The Points Guy for most up-to-date card offers: https://thepointsguy.com/2017/06/top-card-offers-june-2017/
HOT TIP: Don’t book through your credit card’s portal—you can often transfer points to the airline directly and get a better deal. Instead of $918 for my flight to SFO, I paid 25k points + $5. A slightly worse time would have been 12.5k points. Tomorrow I’m flying IAD > SFO, SAN > IAD for $85.
Organizing Your Miles
It’s best to have one account from each of the alliances. Alliances allow you to use points from one program and book on another.
- Star Alliance
Resources for Your Trip
- My favorite booking sites: The Tools You Need to Travel the World
- Travel light: How to Travel the World with Carry-On Luggage Only
- What I travel with: The Quintessential Guide to the Best Travel Gear
- BRING A GOOD CAMERA! The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel: Exceptional Options for Every Budget
Saving Money on Travel
- Number 1 tip: Stay in hostels. It’s also the best way to meet new people.
- Do this exercise: How to Save Up Money for Travel: You Don’t Need to Stop Drinking $5 Lattes
- Saving Money on the Road: A Simple Guide to Banking While You Travel
- Best checking account is Charles Schwab High Yield Checking—never pay ATM fees anywhere in the world
- Don’t bring cash. Just bring your CS debit card and withdraw at an ATM. That’s how you get the best exchange rate. Also using credit cards, but you can’t use credit cards everywhere, especially in some places around South America and Asia.
- When you’re traveling, don’t splurge because you’re on vacation. Act like you’re at home. That’s how you save money when you travel. Eat on a budget by cooking for yourself (Airbnb or alternatives), go to expensive restaurants for lunch. Don’t take taxi’s or Uber’s everywhere—take public transport, just like at home. The best way to save money while you’re traveling is to pretend that you aren’t.
Mentally Prepare Yourself For Your Trip
- Leave expectations at the door. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
- If you’re traveling with friends, practice patience. Or go solo—I’m a huge advocate for solo travel!
- Slow things down. Don’t GO GO GO. Give yourself more time in fewer places. The experience will be richer.
- Remember: you’re an ambassador for your country when you travel. Represent us well, and do your best to learn from the locals. Don’t bring your customs into their culture, learn theirs instead. Be respectful and vote with your dollar!