Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
BUY YOUR FLIGHT RIGHT AWAY
If you haven’t read the intro: how to travel without time or money, read that shit first…
After Spain I caught the travel bug and couldn’t shake it. On my last day in Barcelona, I was laying in my bed when I got a notification on Facebook. My friend Holly had tagged me below an image of a crazy South American road trip. It was one of those trips that nobody actually takes… just a dreamy fantasy of the perfect locations to visit on the continent. I immediately knew I had to do it. I bought a one-way ticket to Montevideo, Uruguay as my starting point… After all, I did tell the girl I had sex with in the bathroom of that Madrid hostel that I’d come visit her in South America. I had no idea what my family would say, where the money would come, or how in the hell I’d actually do it, but the flight was booked, and I was leaving in three weeks.
The one-way ticket was about six hundred bucks with two connections in Fort Lauderdale, and then in Lima, Peru. It was about seventeen hours in total from take-off to landing. I reserved an Airbnb in the Tres Cruces section of the city from a woman named Pao. I had no idea what to do when I got there or if this was a good idea. I could barely explain to the bus driver outside the airport that I had to get to Tres Cruces. I stayed on the jungle-like bus ride for what seemed like an eternity until some woman screamed at me, “Bajas aqui!” So, I got off the bus and looked for my landmark. I walked inside the Tres Cruces bus terminal to meet that girl and the security guard told me to take off my hat. What? Why? Take it off, he told me in Spanish. What a dick, I thought. I later learned that gang members wear hats and for that reason, it’s proper manners to not wear hats inside. The girl showed up and we took a taxi to my apartment rental: a place that looked like the filming location for a murder scene. I walked inside and so my hundred-day trek around South America began, and it was the most wonderful and educational experience of a lifetime.
Point is, I had bought the ticket way before any of the “holy shit, what did I just do?” thoughts crossed my mind, and that’s the hack: buy your ticket fast. It might seem like that’s not a hack at all, but I assure you, it’s the only thing you really need to do if you want to travel the world, wouldn’t you agree? You need to leave where you are now and go somewhere else. Right? Right. But if you wait too long to buy the ticket, you’ll never buy it. If you impulse-buy your flight, the adventure is born in a matter of seconds. The ticket is always the first step, and without that first step, there are no other steps. So, my advice is to take that first step as quickly as possible.
When it comes to choosing where you’re going, stay away from idea-pinball. Look at a map; a real map. One you fold up and shit. Look at the world and pick a place that seems fucking amazing, like what I did with the South America road trip map. Use references wherever you find them then make it your own. But it’s the map that’s going to really sell you on the magnitude of what your trip truly means. There’s a saying on Broadway when looking for investors: “Bring the horse to the track,” or some shit like that. Basically, it means don’t pitch an investor at a bus stop, bring them to the actual theatre—the big, glorious theatre—and let them see what they’ll be a part of if they part with a small investment of a trillion dollars. Your journey becomes much more appetizing when you see it in front of your eyes. Buy a map and draw lines of where you will go and look at it all the time. Before you start second-guessing yourself, book the flight.
As far as when to go, you already know the answer to that. If you work a job that you’re not going to quit then you only have a few times a year you can go anyway, so that’s when you book your ticket for. If you plan to leave your job and travel the world or you don’t have one at the moment, book your ticket a month or so out. That’ll give you enough time to prepare. We’ll go over preparation in the following chapters… Right now, all you need to do is buy the flight.
Your starting point should excite you, but don’t look for some perfect destination because they don’t exist. Pick a damn place and commit. Flight by flight, you’ll see the world. I’m not going over flight hacks or mileage rewards programs because they’re bullshit. Don’t complicate the flight-buying process with flight hacks that’ll only save you fifty bucks. That’s the type of nonsense that’ll keep this whole process from ever happening. Too much research is deadly. Don’t look and read and research and get tired then say fuck it… I’ll finish this tomorrow. But more than anything, there’s no reason to fuck with flight hacks. Search “cheap flights” once and leave it at that. Don’t worry about cheaper flights than the already-cheap flights. Don’t piece together a jigsaw puzzle of four flights if it’s only saving you a hundred bucks because it interferes with the crux of the secret: to buy the flight fast.
Don’t dig yourself a hole of debt by signing up for credit cards that give you 50,000 miles after the first $5,000 USD you spend. That’ll leave you in credit card debt in exchange for miles that cost only a few hundred bucks if you were to buy them in cash. In the grand scheme of life, those dollars you might save don’t mean anything compared to the journey you’re about to take, so just buy the damn ticket! If you’re thinking, “No Greg! I won’t leave a balance! I’ll pay off every month with no interest!” Right, but that’s not how the credit card industry works. At some point, you’ll fuck up. All you need to do is miss one payment for that damn “flight hack” to go to shit because your interest payment will be the amount you initially saved. Just keep it simple. For now, pick a country you want to go to—not based on price—based on the fact that it’s where you want to go. We’ll talk more about credit cards later because you do need one, but not because it’ll get you reward miles or whatever. For another reason which I don’t want to get into just yet. Just focus on buying your flight with cash you have and do it fast. Don’t plan any part of your trip yet. The adventure of traveling the world and having no idea what’s about to come has officially begun the second your flight is booked, and that’s the core of this secret. One step at a time. Just make sure you either don’t need a tourist visa or can easily get one.
Here’s another crazy idea but I highly recommend it if you can stomach the uncertainty: Book a one-way ticket, not a round-trip. You may be thinking why? It’s far more expensive to do it that way! Well, yes, it’s pricier but not as expensive as constantly changing your return date or the mental exhaustion of knowing when your trip has to end. The perk of a one-way ticket is you don’t have to be somewhere on a certain date to fly home. What if you show up in Iceland and hate the damn place? You’ve already set aside the time to travel, wouldn’t you rather go somewhere different than be stuck somewhere you hate for two weeks? Just pay a bit more so you can leave yourself the freedom to bounce around to somewhere else if you hate where you are, or so you can stay longer if you love it.
Sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve seen all you can see far quicker than you thought. I was planning to stay in Guatape, Colombia for a few days, but I saw the whole damn place in an hour! Good thing I didn’t reserve more than one night at the hostel. But then I ended up really liking the solitude and decided to stay there a bit longer, so at the last moment, I made a decision to stay. I like one-way tickets so I can change my mind if I want to, and you’ll probably like that same luxury.
Let me get back to the initial secret: The trick here is speed. If you think about your trip for too long, all the reasons not to do it will come up in your thoughts and mind-fuck you till you’re too worried to pull the trigger. Go fast. Buy now, logistics later. Don’t buy a roundtrip if you don’t need to or if you don’t know for sure where you want to fly out of. You may not know how long you want to spend in Lyon, France, but you know for sure you want to go to France… So, just make Lyon your starting point.
If your tourist visa requires proof of exit—meaning they want to make sure you’re only passing through and do not intend on moving to the country—then buy a refundable one-way ticket out of the country, get your visa, then call the airline and get a refund as soon as you land. Now you can leave whenever you want.
Make your trip meaningful, it’ll help a lot. Pick an adventure that’ll make you feel accomplished. Cross something off your bucket list. Where do you have to go? Getting excited about your trip is an important ingredient to quickly buying your ticket. Make sure you’re aroused simply from thinking about the journey ahead of you and you’ll have that confirmation email in your inbox in no time. Then tell me you don’t walk with a different strut from that point on… you will. You’ll finally be taking that damn trip you’ve been putting off for far too long.
My promise to you is you’ll feel more alive than you have in a long while after you buy that ticket, and you’ll feel it immediately. You’ll feel like you’ve finally put something in motion. Don’t worry if you feel anxious, we’re going tackle that in the next post. Just remember: If you don’t irrationally buy your ticket, it’ll never happen. Today is the day you reclaim your life. There’re few outcomes in life we can predict with certainty, but I can say with near-absolute certainty that you will be a different person after buying this ticket.
The secret to quickly leaping to your first adventure is to buy your flight right away.
Now… on to Secret 2…
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